About Illinois Bicentennial

The Bicentennial of Illinois statehood in 2018 offers an opportunity to contemplate and celebrate the manifold legacy of Illinois.

Illinois Humanities is collaborating with organizations and communities across the state to celebrate this anniversary by reminding residents of events that have shaped our past and are impacting our future in Illinois and the country as a whole through series like Illinois Political Theater, Illinois Turns 200 Podcast, Forgotten Illinois Community Grants, and the Bicentennial Edition of the Road Scholars Speakers Bureau.

For more information about Illinois Bicentennial programming, view the details below or contact Paul Durica, Director of Programs, at paul.durica@ilhumanities.org or (312) 422-5583.

Illinois Political Theater

Vote with your voice, parade for Lincoln, gather at the train station, or appear before the TV cameras in four participatory reenactments that tell the story of how Illinoisans have participated in the political process over the last 200 years.

Upcoming Events

Lincoln Wide Awake Parade 1860
August 4 at 7PM in Springfield, IL
Discussion to follow Parade

Election Day 1818
September 16 at 3PM in Kaskaskia, IL

Truman Whistle Stop 1948
October 14 at 2PM in Danville, IL

Nixon Debates Kennedy 1960
October 23 at 7PM in Chicago, IL

Illinois Turns 200 Podcast

State of Illinois SealBe part of the audience at these live podcast episodes that tell the story of seven communities that arose along rivers, rails, and roads through musical performances, interviews, dramatic readings, oral histories, and archival material. This bicentennial series will be released as special episodes of the Studs Terkel Radio Archive’s podcast series Bughouse Square.

Upcoming Live Podcasts

National Great Rivers Museum
#2 Lock and Dam Way
Alton, Illinois
August 25 at 3 PM

Vandalia State House State Historical Site
315 West Gallatin Street
Vandalia, Illinois
August 26 at 3PM

Atlanta Museum
November 2 at 7PM in Atlanta, IL

G.A.R. Memorial Hall
November 3 at 3PM in Peoria, IL

Carl Sandburg State Historic Site
November 4 at 2PM in Galesburg, IL

Tangled Roots Brewing Company
December 2 at 3PM in Ottawa, IL

The Hideout
December 3 at 7PM in Chicago, IL

Forgotten Illinois Community Grants

Road from Kaskaskia to CahokiaTo celebrate the Illinois Bicentennial in 2018 and to spark curiosity about Illinois history and its implications for our state’s present and future, Illinois Humanities, in partnership with the Illinois State Historical Society, launched Forgotten Illinois.

Why We’re Doing It

The core question to which this program responds is, “What can lesser-known features of Illinois history tell us about the ever-evolving identity of our state?” By shedding light on chapters of our history that are significant despite their obscurity, and by using media and digital storytelling platforms to make them widely accessible, Forgotten Illinois intends to engage numerous partners throughout the state in feeding curiosity about the many facets that comprise Illinois’s complex identity.

Partners and Their Roles

Illinois Humanities will administer this grants program, while the Illinois State Historical Society will help to publicize the opportunity to apply as widely as possible, evaluate and select proposals, and disseminate the products of this initiative.

Learn more about the Forgotten Illinois Community Grants series.

Apply for a Forgotten Illinois Action grant.

View the recently funded projects.

Road Scholars Speakers Bureau Bicentennial Edition

Marlene Rivero as Ann StokesIn cooperation with the Illinois Bicentennial Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a new roster of Road Scholars has been commissioned.

This season is devoted to the exploration of Illinois with over 40 presentations by 30 speakers on all aspects of Illinois history and culture, including:  Native American tribes, African immigrant communities, Civil War generals, post-World War II Republican congressmen, patchwork quilting, skyscraper design, and more coming to a library or community center near you.

Learn more about the Road Scholars Speaker Bureau program.

Explore the new roster.

Attend an upcoming presentation.

Book a presentation.