Peter Fritzsche is W.D. and Sara E. Trowbridge Professor of History at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of Life and Death in the Third Reich and many other books. He translated, from German, the Kalshoven family letters that comprise Between Two Homelands and he also wrote the Preface to the book.

Q: How did you come to be associated with Hedda Kalshoven, who assembled her family’s letters for this book?

Peter Fritzsche: I had used the German edition of the letters for my two books on National Socialism, GERMANS INTO NAZIS (1998) and LIFE AND DEATH IN THE THIRD REICH (2008), which Hedda noticed. She then got into email contact with me, told me about the newly discovered diary, and we decided to try and sell the project to American university presses to reach an English-speaking audience. This is probably the most important primary source on the motives and notions of non-Jewish Germans who were sympathetic to the Nazis. It is especially important because of the large cast of characters, the internal tensions, and the long time period of correspondence. Continue reading

Social activist and influential executive secretary of the National Urban League Eugene Kinckle Jones was born on July 30, 1885.

Felix L. Armfield‘s biography Eugene Kinckle Jones: The National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910-1940 details the life an impact of this important agent for black social change in the early twentieth century.

In a January, 2012 Q&A with the Press, the late author pointed out some of the achievements of Eugene Kinckle Jones.

“While serving as the executive secretary of the National Urban League, worked to secure adequate jobs and housing for newly arriving southern black migrants to the often urban north,” Armfield noted. “In addition to jobs and housing, Jones continually worked with industry to make sure that sufficient job opportunities were made available to urban black people from 1916 to 1940.”









The Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge stretches for 261 river miles from Cordova, Illinois to the mouth of Wisconsin’s Chippewa River.

Dozens of bird species can be spotted at the Refuge, especially during migratory season. Perhaps most notable is that the the Refuge is a good place to spot bald eagles. Each winter large numbers of eagles fish in the partially frozen rivers and streams.

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge is featured in Exploring Nature in Illinois: A Field Guide to the Prairie StateThroughout the book naturalists Michael Jeffords and Susan Post invite you to discover fifty preserves, forests, restoration areas, and parks in the Land of Lincoln.

Each Wednesday we’ll preview some of the unexpected beauty of Illinois’s prairies, lakesides, river bottoms, and woodlands found within the book. . . . just in time for you to plan a weekend trip.

You’ll find maps and descriptions of these wild places in Illinois, including many hard-to-find sites, within the pages of the book.

Darlene Clark Hine, co-editor of The New Black Studies Series, has been awarded with the 2013 National Humanities Medal.

President Barack Obama presented the award to Hine at the White House on Monday, July 28. She is one of 10 recipients of the award.

The National Humanities Medal honors individuals honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.

Hine is a leading historian of the African-American experience and is Board of Trustees Professor of African American Studies and Professor of History at Northwestern University. Her other UIP projects include The Black Chicago Renaissance and Black Europe and the African Diaspora.


José Ángel N. is an undocumented immigrant who lives in Chicago. In his memoir Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant, José Ángel writes of his own journey from Mexico to find a new life in America.

The crisis of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving at the Texas border has again brought the issue of undocumented immigrants to the political forefront (and to tv and radio talk shows). However, much of the public debate has been conducted by elected officials and pundits and very few of the voices heard have been from the undocumented individuals who will be most affected by immigration reform.

In light of these issues, José Ángel N. has written an open letter to President Barack Obama, which has been published online at and El Beisman and

Dear President Obama,

I know you will probably never read this letter. But, as a good Mexican, I’ve been taught to expect disappointment in advance, so there is no harm in trying.

My name is José Ángel N., and I am an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. I have lived in Chicago most of my life, and the night you were elected U.S. President I watched with my face pressed against a chain-link fence as you delivered an impassioned speech at Grant Park.

I come from Guadalajara, a city that you visited during your first official trip to Mexico as President. What did you think of my city, by the way? I have not been home in two long decades, so your memory of it is more current than mine.

Like most people, I came to the United States because I heard that people here had a chance to start over. Actually, I didn’t hear that. The news of the riches of our neighbor to the north reached me in the form of shiny cars, designer clothes, flashy shoes, and impressive electronic gadgets that people in my neighborhood brought back with them when they returned from the United States. My knowledge of America was strictly empirical. That was not, incidentally, a word I knew when I first left Mexico at 19 years of age. I learned it first in English here in Chicago when I was almost 30 years old, during my freshman year in college. And only years later did I learn its Spanish equivalent, empírico, with its ostentatious accent mark on the second syllable, which gives the word a nice rounded sound, like a bubble that first bursts in your mouth and then closes gently. . . .

Read the rest of the letter here: An Open Letter to President Obama


Robert G. La France, co-editor of Lorado Taft: The Chicago Years, talks about the life and work of the influential sculptor in this video.

In the book trailer, La France, former Curator of Pre-Modern Art at Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois Urbana campus, shows off some of the museum’s Taft collection.



On July 26, 1971 the Apollo 15 mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center with a mission to explore Earth’s moon.

Four days later, on July 30, 1971 Lunar Module landed on lunar surface. During the mission astronauts David Scott and James Irwin honored Ray Bradbury by naming an impact crater Dandelion Crater, after the author’s classic 1957 novel Dandelion Wine.

It was a tribute to a longtime supporter of their dream and their mission. Through speeches, interviews, and articles for Life magazine, Ray Bradbury spent the 1960s as one of the most enthusiastic public proponents of space exploration in general and the Apollo program in particular. To him, the race to the moon meant nothing less than a necessary step in the evolution of the human race.

When Apollo 11 made its historic landing on the lunar surface in 1969, Bradbury was in London taking his usual summer holiday with his family. He nonetheless found reporter Mike Wallace and did an interview broadcast via tape delay by CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite at NASA Houston. As Jonathan Eller notes in the forthcoming UIP book Ray Bradbury Unbound:

Bradbury presented space exploration as the great moral substitute for war: “War is a great toy to play with. Men and boys love war . . . let us eliminate war because the proper enemy is before us. All of the universe doesn’t care whether we exist or not, but we care whether we exist . . . this is the proper war to fight.”

There was no scientific introspection here; Bradbury was not capable of it, and never pretended to be. But Walter Cronkite’s live studio audience at NASA Houston burst into applause for the final words of the writer who still listened to the whispers of the boy within.

Barbara Foley is a professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark. She is the author of Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro. She answered some questions about her book Jean Toomer: Race, Repression, and Revolution.

Q: How is Jean Toomer best known?

Barbara Foley: Toomer, author of Cane (1923) is widely known as the first—and for some critics the best—writer associated with the movement that has come to be known as the Harlem Renaissance. He is also widely acknowledged to be an experimental modernist of the first rank, since his Cane—an amalgam of prose, poetry, and drama—defies generic classification. A light-skinned man of partly African descent, from a relatively privileged class background among Washington DC’s “Negro Four Hundred,” Toomer was an early interrogator of racial categorization—although what is for some critics a cagey critique of racial essentialism is, for others, a flight from being identified as African American. Finally, Cane—which is based on Toomer’s three-month stay in the Deep South in 1921—is widely read as a nostalgic evocation of a folk way of life on the cusp of disappearance with modernity. While he is credited with acknowledging the harshness of Jim Crow, however, he is generally seen as an apolitical writer. This last point is one that I contest vigorously in my book. Continue reading

The University of Illinois Press has an opening for a Desktop Publisher.

The Press is seeking a Publisher to compose books and journals for the Press using InDesign/CS6 for Macintosh.

Details on the position and how to apply can be found here: – Desktop Publisher/Coordinator postition

Born on July 23, 1971, Central Illinois native Alison Krauss has been awarded with more Grammys than any other female artist. The singer and fiddle player has put up sales numbers greater than any other living bluegrass act. Yet, as Murphy Hicks Henry writes in her book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass, her career “initially caused great angst for any in the bluegrass community who didn’t know whether to love her or leave her alone.”

Krauss has been embraced by any number of audiences, no matter what to genre she has been marketed. When it comes to authenticity, her country music credibility was cemented when she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1993.

In Pretty Good for a Girl, Henry writes about the beginning of the bluegrass superstar:

Alison’s story begins with her family–mother Louise, father Fred, and older brother Viktor–living quietly in Champaign, Illinois. Louise and Fred took parenting seriously and put their two children into every program imaginable, including music. Violin was five-year-old Alison’s choice of instrument, and she stuck with classical lessons until age eleven, when she started to chafe at the rigid confines of the music. Fiddle contests, with Alison began entering at age eight, offered the thrill of competition along with freedom from the printed page. Soon Alison was studying the music of the great contest champions like Randy Howard and Mark O’Connor, and bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan. She took first place at the prestigious Winfield, Kansas, fiddle championship in 1984 and by 1985 had added state championships from Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee to her trophy case.