The Illinois History Documents Project

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Teacher Resource

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With the grand exception of Abraham Lincoln, most Illinoisans tend to think of American History as something which happened somewhere else: Jamestown, Philadelphia, Gettysburg and such. This is a shame, as the pageant of our state's past stands up rather well, thankyouverymuch, if one only knows where to look. People have inhabited Illinois for the last ten thousand years. The state's written history extends back nearly 300 years; and what a history it is! Native Americans, Frenchmen, British, and Americans all vying for possession of the heart of the continent In the nineteenth century, pioneers, canalmen, railroadmen, steamboatmen, inventors, and entreprenuers reshaped the land in pursuit of their dreams. It is a dramatic story, and one very much worth the telling.

The Illinois History Website is an ongoing research project undertaken by the faculty and students of the History/ Social Science Department of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. The goal is to provide secondary and college students with access to primary documents illustrating our state's past. The collection begins with the arrival of the French in Le Pays des Illinois in the 1670's, continues on through the colonial wars, the American Revolution and into the nineteenth century, and will eventually extend into the twentieth. The project has focussed particularly on reproducing materials, long out of print, which otherwise would be unavailable for school library collections.

The documents contained in the Website were selected to provide a window into our past through the words of the people who lived it. There has been no attempt to edit content and so teachers and students who wish to use these materials are warned that they may contain violence, discussions of adult issues, and/or attitudes offensive to modern readers. These issues concerned us, but we preferred to retain the authenticity of the original documents.