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05 December 2018

CGS Library Collections: Illinois

An occasional series highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also included in WorldCat.


Voices of the Prarie Land
The CGS library has twelve shelves of books for the state of Illinois including at least fourteen sets of journals, many source books on individual counties, and several books devoted to cities – quite an impressive set of material. As I took this in, it struck me that even though my paternal grandparents George and Katharine Vetter lived in Cook County, Illinois for twenty-one years, it never occurred to me to check our library for what secrets it might hold for my own family. This is rather embarrassing to admit. Am I the only CGS member who has made this error of omission? I think not. How is it possible that I would seriously contemplate driving halfway across the country to the state of Illinois before I would think to look at the wonderful collection of sources in my own town? This is why I am writing this series for our blog to remind us all of the rich resources we have access to by being members of CGS.
Hiram Revels of Illinois

So, while it was difficult for me to avoid immediately jumping into a search for my own family I focused on writing this post. The first book I found that interested me was Voices of the Prairie Land, Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Martin Litvin. The book was published in 1972 and consists of writings and original papers of early Illinois citizens. Vol. 1 has a chapter titled Hiram Revels and the Negroes of Galesburg. Revels was the first African American U.S. Senator. This lengthy firsthand account includes Revels’ autobiography, comments on race and the Underground Railroad, and much more. It includes a facsimile of Revels’ original hand-written antislavery oration. This is a rich text worthy of review.

Photo from Legends and Lore of Southern Illinois
Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of the Representative Men of the United States, Illinois Edition, Volume II was published in 1896. The embossed leather-bound volume with gilded page edges presents 298 pages of biographies with high-quality portraits and signatures. Unfortunately, the book lacks a table of contents or an index, so I cannot easily tell you how many biographies are included.

Another of our offerings is Legends and Lore of Southern Illinois by John W. Allen, published in 1964. Chapter topics include Individuals, Folklore, Indians, Early Business Activities, Farm Life, Early Schools, Holidays, Slavery and Servitude, Landmarks, Random Stories, and more.
This book looks like a light read with lots of background information.


 Chicago Accomplishments and Leaders
The last book I checked out for this post was Chicago Accomplishments and Leaders. It is organized by different topics such as the Furniture Mart, Music, Steel, Athletics and Recreation, the Shedd Aquarium, and much more. The book includes portraits of the featured men (all men) accompanied by biographical sketches.


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