Next Illinois Bicentennial Speaker Presentation on July 15



Rep. Dave Severin announced today that the next event in the State Museum Bicentennial Speaker Series will be July 15th at 2 p.m. in the Thorne Deuel Auditorium of the Illinois State Museum. Mike Matejka will present a program entitled Building Illinois: Entrepeneurialism Flourishes, Workers Rise.

Beginning with 1850s railroad construction, Illinois boomed as an agricultural and industrial powerhouse. Familiar brand names, from Wrigley chewing gum to Swift and Armour meat products, covered the nation. Looking at two specific industries, this presentation will cover not only the business expansion, but the workplace tensions that followed. George Pullman was a model nineteenth century entrepreneur, a “rags to riches” story. Yet when he was buried, his grave was concrete reinforced, to curtail desecration. What did Pullman create and what was his legacy? For many years Illinois led the nation's coal production--a vital industry that fueled nineteenth and twentieth century expansion. At the same time, the deep dark mines were a dangerous lair, creating a widespread workers’ movement for industrial democracy.

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Future presentations include:

August 19 - Farming in the Great Corn Belt: 200 Years of Challenges, Choices, and Changes
Presented by Don Meyer



Explore 200 years of farming from the arrival of the earliest settlers in Illinois and the decision-making, determination, hard work, adoption of machines and technology, and financial decisions of farm families that have brought us to the modern era of agriculture. Four “eras” of changes will provide the framework including the Western Frontier (1820’s to 1850’s), The Railroad Arrives (1850’s to 1900), Information Age and Mechanization Advancement (1900-1945) and the Modern Era (post WW2 to present).


September 16 - Illinois Art and Literature, 1818-2017
Presented by Laura Mueller


Art historian and educator Laura Mueller will offer a wide-ranging, slide-illustrated presentation surveying depictions of Illinois and its people in art and literature. It will include examples representing many points in time between 1818 and the present, indicating the countless ways in which Illinois has been represented artistically throughout its history as a state. The presentation will emphasize works of visual and literary art by Illinoisans but will also incorporate works by artists and authors from elsewhere that illuminate significant aspects of life in our state.


October 21 - From Prairie to Farm to City: Music to Commemorate Illinois' Bicentennial
Presented by Phil Passen


The music performed by singer and hammered dulcimer player Phil Passen reflects the story of Illinois, which has been shaped not only by its land and natural features – the prairies, lakes, and rivers – but also by the many cultures that have flourished here: those of Native Americans, French, Germans, African Americans, Latin Americans and numerous others. Songs of the Underground Railroad, which ran through Illinois, will be featured as well as selections representing farmers, workers, labor struggles, disasters, and tragedies. Passen will provide commentary about the histories of the selections and the contexts in which they have been sung and played in Illinois. This will be an informative and entertaining look at Illinois, its history and its people. Audiences are fascinated by the uncommon, trapezoidal-shaped hammered dulcimer, a word that means “beautiful song”. After Phil’s performance, members of the audience, young and old, musicians and non-musicians, are welcome to take a closer look at the dulcimer and try their hand at it.






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