Conference on Illinois History will explore Prairie State stories online this year


SPRINGFIELD – Native Americans establishing cities, immigrants building new lives, activists fighting for their rights, soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice – they are all part of Illinois’s fascinating story and will be examined at the 22nd Conference on Illinois History.

The conference, presented Oct. 5-9 by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, will be held online this year, which means anyone, anywhere can watch as experts share their latest research.

The conference also includes special presentations by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, director of the Illinois State Museum, and Kristin Hoganson, author of “The Heartland: An American History.” There will be multiple sessions offering professional-development credits for teachers.

To see the full lineup of panels and register for individual sessions, please visit There is no cost.

“The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to change the way the conference will operate. We’re going to miss seeing everyone in person, but we’re also excited about the opportunity to share Illinois history with people all across the state or even the country,” said Jacob Friefeld, the ALPLM’s specialist on Illinois and Midwest history.

The conference includes several roundtable discussions, including sessions on the lives of Civil War soldiers and using cultural resources to promote tourism along the Mississippi River.

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, in addition to serving as director of the Illinois State Museum, is the author of “Museum Administration 2.0” and the “Small Museum Toolkit.” She will discuss her efforts to reimagine the museum.

The next day, Kristin Hoganson will deliver a speech on “Local History for Our Times.” Hoganson is a history professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the author of several books and president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

“This conference is not just for experts,” said Melissa Coultas, acting executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “Anyone with an interest in history can join in and hear what’s being discovered about the men and women who contributed to the story of Illinois.”

Other topics include

  • The collision of archaeology and organized crime at Cahokia Mounds
  • Some of the state’s long-serving politicians, including immigrant Adolph Sabath
  • The experiences of Jewish military personnel during World War II
  • Racist white mob violence and recent reconciliation efforts
  • The dramatic Illinois monument at the Vicksburg battle site
  • Political cartoons and how they portrayed Abraham Lincoln

Christopher Wills

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