Persistence, Resistance, Survival: The Life of Kate Quarles Burton

Kate Quarles Burton (ca. 1858-1942) started her remarkable life being born into slavery near Hannibal, Missouri—with her father serving as the inspiration for Mark Twain’s character “Jim.” As a young woman, she built a life in Hannibal and eventually Springfield, Illinois, as a domestic worker, wife, and beloved matriarch. Burton was marked by terror and tragedy, when a white mob lynched her husband Scott Burton during the 1908 Springfield Race Riot. This presentation offers a glimpse into Kate Burton’s long journey, as an insight into how African Americans survived, resisted, and persevered in Springfield in the late nineteenth and early-twentieth century.

Devin Hunter is Associate Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at the University of Illinois Springfield, where he teaches public history and twentieth-century United States History. His research focus includes the historical development and use of ideals of cultural diversity, as well as the history of commemoration and the present-day memorialization of historical trauma and difficult pasts.

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.

Event Information

When: Wednesday, June 26, 2024 12:30 PM until 1:15 PM

Location: Lincoln Home National Historic Site Visitor Center, 426 S. 7th Street Springfield, Illinois 62701