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Current News

Lots of Lincoln Activities at the 2023 Illinois State Fair
Saturday, June 24, 2023

Looking for Lincoln is proud to bring our 16th president to the Illinois State Fair again in 2023, along with other Lincoln-era activities on the lawn of the Illinois Building near the main gate.

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Looking for Lincoln on NPR
Saturday, February 18, 2023

NPR Illinois and Looking for Lincoln are joining forces all week long, Feb 20-24, 2023 to tell a handful of the lesser-known stories of early Illinois.

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Bronzeville-Black Metropolis is Illinois' newst National Heritage Area
Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Congratulations to Bronzeville-Black Metropolis for becoming Illinois’ newest National Heritage Area. Welcome to the NPS family!

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Upcoming Events

Friday, May 31, 2024 12:00 AM - Sunday, August 4, 2024 12:00 AM

Returning for its 15th season, History Comes Alive transports you back to the 19th Century Springfield.  Immerse yourself in Lincoln's hometown while meeting our largest cast of historical reenactors yet.  Live performances, a varity of demonstrattions, as well special presentations of some of Lincoln's most famous speeches.  Springfield is truly a city where History Comes Alive!  Free downtown trolley service to historic sites Wed.-Sat.!

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North of Slavery: The Matson Slave Trial
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 12:30 PM - 1:15 PM

In 1845 Kentucky slaveowner Robert Matson brought several of his slaves to Illinois, where he put them to work on his farm in Coles County. Two years later an enslaved woman named Jane Bryant fled the farm with her four children. Matson turned to the judicial system in Illinois, hiring attorney Abraham Lincoln to help him reclaim his human property. The ensuing freedom suit reveals the complexity of the institution of slavery, its implications for the “free state” of Illinois, and the role the institution played in the Civil War. The talk will examine the critical role the Illinois Supreme Court played in ensuring Illinois developed as a free state and explore why the future Great Emancipator was on the wrong side of history in this case.

Samuel Wheeler is a historian specializing in the history of Illinois, the Civil War Era, and the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. For more than two decades, Dr. Wheeler has worked in the field of public history, most recently serving as the State Historian of Illinois and Director of Research and Collections at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. He currently serves as the Director of History Programs at the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission.

This program is the first in the summer lunchtime lecture series, Stories of Freedom in Central Series hosted by Looking for Lincoln and the Springfield State Historic Sites.  This weekly lecture series will be hosted on Wednesday's at 12:30 PM in Theater 1 at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site Visitor Center.  The series will start on June 5, 2024 and conclude on July 31, 2024.

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The Underground Railroad in Illinois Connecting the Dots
Wednesday, September 11, 2024 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Illinois has a rich Underground Railroad History.  Join us for a look state-wide at the journeys of Freedom Seekers and the responding networks of the Underground Railroad in the decades before the Civil War.   Connecting the dots in this powerful part of Illinois history.  In addition, details about the work of the Illinois Underground Railroad Task Force.

Larry McClellan's  consulting, research and writing focus is on freedom seekers and the Underground Railroad, and on African American and regional history south of Chicago.  Major publications include 25 articles in the Encyclopedia of Chicago [2005]; The Underground Railroad South of Chicago [2019], co-author of To the River, The Remarkable Journey of Caroline Quarlls, a Freedom Seeker on the Underground Railroad [2019].   Onward to Chicago:  Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad in Northeastern Illinois was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2023.  This received the national 2023 Memorial Prize for the Advancement of Knowledge from the Underground Railroad Free Press. In 2022 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society for his contributions to Illinois history and, in 2024, they gave his latest book their Award for Superior Achievement.

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Regional Highlight

During a court case at the Christian County Courthouse in Taylorville, Illinois Lincoln requested a "writ of quietus" from Judge David Davis. The pigs under the courthouse trying to stay cool were making so much noise Lincoln could not make his arguments to the jury. Today, this incident is marked by a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a pig on the lawn of the Christian County Courthouse in downtown Taylorville.

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