Category Archives: Media

WMAY Shower of Stars, 1959

This entry has been edited to correct the date of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. On Feb. 15, 1959, the curtain opened on the stage of the Illinois State Armory, and Harry … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Communications, Media | 3 Comments

First African-American mail carrier

When Charles Ellis Sr. was appointed a Springfield mail carrier in 1890 – the first African-American to hold the job – his predecessor refused to show him the route, and the Illinois State Register erupted with a racist personal attack … Continue reading

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Doc Helm, photographer

Eddie Winfred “Doc” Helm, whose striking photographs documented African-American life in Springfield for 50 years, started his career as the man responsible for raising and lowering the flag over the Illinois Statehouse. Helm (1911-94), who grew up in Mount Vernon, … Continue reading

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Armistice celebrations, Nov. 11, 1918

On Nov. 11, 1918, the parades started at 4 a.m. News that negotiators had agreed on an armistice to end World War I reached Springfield shortly after 2:30 a.m. that Monday. Middle of the night or not, celebrations – spontaneous, … Continue reading

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Sangamo Monitor

The Sangamo Monitor, published from 1873 until 1898, for a time sold more copies than either the Illinois State Journal or Illinois State Register. Most of the credit goes to Thomas Winfield Scott Kidd (1828-1904), the Monitor’s popular, freewheeling publisher. … Continue reading

Posted in Communications, Media, Prominent figures | 2 Comments

The Harrison Revival, 1886

Thomas Harrison, “the boy preacher,” was well past boyhood when he arrived in Springfield for a revival series in January 1886. It’s not clear, in fact, that he was ever that boyish in the pulpit – Harrison, born in Boston … Continue reading

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Newsboys vs. the mayor, 1921

When a newsboy stiffed Mayor Charles Baumann out of 2 cents change, Baumann ordered city police to dismantle every news stand in downtown Springfield. But the newsboys had allies of their own, including an influential group of civic-minded women. The … Continue reading

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Poisoning and racial controversy, 1860

The sentencing of three African-American teenagers in 1860 on charges they tried to poison the employers of two of them highlighted differences in how courts and the newspapers treated blacks and whites at the time. Perhaps inevitably, the case also … Continue reading

Posted in Abolitionism, African Americans, Crime and vice, Journalism, Law enforcement, Media, Politics, Prominent figures | Leave a comment

Charles Darwin letters, Illinois State Register (1914)

More than 50 years after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, the Illinois State Register devoted seven full pages over the summer of 1914 to the continued controversy over Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The result was a verbose … Continue reading

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Late-night Springfield, 1935

J. Emil Smith wrote a daily column, “Making Conversation,” for more than 28 years, starting when he became editor of the Illinois State Journal in 1930. Much of the column was made up of briefs, jokes, poems and birthday notices for friends … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Hotels & taverns, Journalism, Local government, Media, Politics, Prominent figures, Restaurants, Social life | Leave a comment