Sensing Chicago - Adam MackSensing Chicago: Noisemakers, Strikebreakers, and Muckrakers by Adam Mack has been given an award for Superior Achievement by the Illinois State Historical Society.

The awards committee noted, “This scholarly book offers a fresh look at the dynamics between the working class and establishment during the 19th century. It is a significant contribution to urban studies and a persuasive application of sensory history methods. It changes our understanding of the history and particularly the experience of life in the industrial city.”

Awards were announced at the annual meeting of the Illinois State Historical Society in Springfield, April 23, 2016.

“I think sensory studies can change our understanding of the history urban experience,” Mack author Mack said in a Q&A with UIP last year. “One insight that I hope readers take from Sensing Chicago is that people cared deeply about the sensory landscape of the city—the way Chicago looked, sounded, smelled, and felt.”


wellerToday marks the birthday of famed sculptor Lorado Taft, born in 1860 in Elmwood, Illinois.

A graduate of the Illinois Industrial University—forerunner of the University of Illinois at Urbana—Taft studied in France before returning to Chicago to make his reputation and fortune. Today Taft works dot the nation. He also remains one of the great figures in the history of the Art Institute, where he taught for over thirty years.

In the 1920s, Taft was at the height of his fame and undiminished in his powers. A bequest from Urbana resident J.O. Cunningham paid Taft $10,000—less than half his fee—to create a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. Cunningham and her husband had befriended the Railsplitter back in his circuit lawyering days. As Allen Stuart Weller relates in his UIP book Lorado Taft: The Chicago Years (edited by Robert G. La France and Henry Adams with Stephen P. Thomas):

In 1925 Taft signed a contract to make a statue of Lincoln for his college town of Urbana. He had long admired the Saint-Gaudens standing Lincoln in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Subsequently, it seemed impossible for him to think of the great president in any other guise or attitude. But this was followed by a hopeful thought; Taft would not depict the martyred president, but the youthful Lincoln as he appeared when he practiced law in the Illinois federal courts soon after he had been admitted to the bar.

pp_Weller_Taft-172Taft modeled him leaning slightly backward, supported by both hands on a desk, which takes the place of the thronelike chair in Saint-Gaudens statue. The modeling of Taft’s Lincoln is broad and specific. Every detail is powerfully indicated but does not detract from the keenness of the serious facial expression, which was based on the famous life mask by Leonard Volk. The statue was dedicated in 1927 and now stands proudly at the east entrance of Carle Park.

williams plaqueOn Monday, April 25, The College at Brockport, State University of New York, honored alum Fannie Barrier Williams, its first African American female graduate. The institution dedicated a plaque to Williams, honoring in particular her civil rights work. The subject of a recent UIP biography by Wanda A. Hendricks, Williams was an important Progressive Era activist. The College at Brockport noted:

Williams was an educated reformer and social activist who, according to historian Wanda Hendricks, is one of the most noteworthy African American women of her time. After leaving Brockport, Williams went on to become a national representative for black women. She was one of the major figures in the development of the National Association of Colored Women and she led the movement to organize the state-based Federation of Afro-American Women’s Clubs in Illinois.

“Williams’ legacy then and now is that nobody should be allowed to define you,” said Darwin Prioleau, PhD, dean of the School of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, in her welcoming remarks. “You have the right to define yourself.”

For a boring sport, baseball sure produces a lot of interesting writing. Maybe because writers have a lot of time to think, take notes, nap, and so on waiting for something to happen during a game. And then when something does happen, there’s no need to concentrate, because chances are you’ve seen the same thing a million other times. The double play hasn’t fundamentally changed since Tinkers to Evers to Chance, except now the players and field are in color, and the people no longer zip around like the characters in those sped-up clips from The Benny Hill Show.

Long ago, UIP committed to delving beyond the box score to publish on the phenomena, personalities, and overlooked but important aspects of the game. You don’t even have to miss a pitch to read about it all. Just sit back in the chair with your unshelled peanuts and delicious $10 beverage, open the book, and glance up once in a while to see what’s going on.

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grant memoirs

“My family is American, and has been for generations, in all its branches, direct and collateral.”

April 27 marks the 194th anniversary of the birth of Ulysses S. Grant, victor of the Civil War and somewhat unsuccessful president of the United States.

Though Grant found his way into the world in Point Pleasant, Ohio, he began his incredible rise from reluctant soldier and hard luck businessman in Galena. There, at his father’s behest, he entered the leather goods business with his two brothers, one young, the other—more capable—dying of tuberculosis. He spent eleven months in the town, most of the time uneventful except for work, though in those epic days even a leather goods dealer might get caught up in the whirlwind of history:

I traveled through the Northwest considerably during the winter of 1860-1. We had customers in all the little towns in south-west Wisconsin, south-east Minnesota and north-east Iowa. These generally knew I had been a captain in the regular army and had served through the Mexican war. Consequently wherever I stopped at night, some of the people would come to the public-house where I was, and sit till a late hour discussing the probabilities of the future. My own views at that time were like those officially expressed by Mr. Seward at a later day, that “the war would be over in ninety days.” I continued to entertain these views until after the battle of Shiloh.

As the War Between the States heated up, Grant put aside the leather goods business and, as a former professional soldier, became a colonel in the Twenty-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Soon enough he was a brigadier general and the victor in the Chattanooga Campaign, a series of battles that blew the Confederate Army out of Tennessee and opened up the Deep South for Yankee invasion.

For a long time, even the corruption of the Grant Administration failed to diminish the man’s status. Can mean little political scandals eclipse one who vanquished the Rebellion and accepted the surrender of Robert E. Lee? Yet Grant’s second act went less well. Though drafted to run as president, he seemed about as enthusiastic about the office as he did about soldiering, and indeed he delegated to the point that his appointees robbed the country blind. Nor did he get a free ride politically in his own time. Our own Journal of American Ethnic History once reprinted the sick burn below from 1872.

grant editorial cartoon

True, next to no one alive today understands what this cartoon is talking about. But back then!

After his glory days, Grant never spent significant time in Illinois again. He failed in business once more, leaving his family on the edge of ruin. Fellow cigar enthusiast Mark Twain helped Grant publish his memoirs—still acclaimed as one of the best books ever written by an American political figure—and Grant, ill with terminal throat cancer, saw it done days before his death in 1885.

pernotWith the Cubs shocking the monkey in the early going, the cry goes out: Kris Bryant for president. Or Anthony Rizzo. Or Jake Arrieta. Alas, they are all too young and, in Arrieta’s case, too bearded. We could nominate Chicago manager Joe Maddon, but he’d probably choose an alpaca for his vice president, and we cannot have an camelid that competent one heartbeat from the Oval Office.

Only October can tell us whether the latest edition of the Cubs will deliver. Only future years will show if the dynasty-in-waiting becomes a dynasty in fact. But, surprisingly, it would not be the first Cubs super-team to frighten the National League. Yea, back in another era when men wore magnificent facial hair, the Cubs arguably invented the baseball dynasty.

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Headed to Miami for the Association for Asian American Studies conference April 28-30? We have your agenda.

Warm up for the proceedings by checking out our great new UIP titles along with a selection of backlist classics. Since you’re at the table, why not chat with the always personable Dawn Durante, Acquisitions Editor at UIP? That done, you can then get serious with what the Press is bringing to AAAS in 2016:

1) Join UIP authors Faye Caronan and Christine Kim for a book signing and meet-and-greet. It takes place from 6:15 to 7:30 PM on April 28 at the UIP table during the conference’s New Books Reception.

2) Read Faye Caronan‘s Legitimizing Empire: Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Cultural Critique. This breakthrough study explores how colonial narratives complicate the mythology of U.S. exceptionalism. Caronan challenges the promises of “benevolent assimilation” of Puerto Rico and the Philippines within the American empire.

3) Read Christine Kim‘s The Minor Intimacies of Race: Asian Publics in North America. Nothing less than an original reconsideration of foundational concerns, this book delves into the ways cultural conversations minimize race’s relevance even as violent expressions and structural forms of racism continue to occur. Kim examines race, emotional states of intimacy, and social publics among Asian Canadians and Asian Americans.

4) Take a look at the latest issue of the Journal of American Ethnic Studies, the publishing home of many Asian American studies articles, including “A Part and Apart: Asian American and Immigration History,” by Erika Lee.

5) While you’re at the our booth take advantage of the conference discount of up to 40% off with free shipping.*

(*to domestic addresses)

April 21, 1967, dawned cool and foggy in northern Illinois. It had been a tough winter and the cold had yet to fully retreat. In fact, it would snow again three days later in some parts. Not the kind of day you expected warm temperatures, let alone one of the deadliest swarms of tornadoes to ever strike the state.

school busTemperatures warmed as the day continued. The various meteorological factors involved in the development of super-cells steadily gathered. The situation generated a long list of tornadoes that day. Meteorologists later ranked three of them as super-destructive F4 storms. One hit Belvidere shortly after 3:50 p.m., another Oak Lawn and Chicago’s South Side at rush hour, and a third the Barrington-Lake Zurich area. At least seventeen tornadoes touched down in Illinois that day, as did almost thirty others in surrounding states.

The Belvidere tornado became that town’s defining event. The details make one wonder about divine providence. When the tornado hit, school was just letting out at the high school. A fairly small town, Belvidere mixed high school riders with children from middle- and elementary school. Buses full of those kids were lined up when the tornado struck. The storm had already blasted past the local Chrysler plant where my uncle worked, destroying hundreds of cars.

Later on, I met people who had hunkered in the basement while the tornado ripped their houses to pieces, and others who carried in bodies to the school gymnasium. It was one of those events that people remembered like it had happened yesterday. Seemingly everyone knew somebody injured or killed, or who had lost a child. This guy had been in a car rolled across a field. That woman was in a bus that landed on someone’s porch. My grandmother lived in Belvidere then and for the rest of her life she only needed to see a dark cloud to bring up that day. The summers there, the sirens went off three or four or five times, and though I didn’t get it then I can see why the town might play it safe and press the button.

mrs coolidgeUntil climate change renders snowball fights the exclusive preserve of those able to climb K2, April will remain the most welcome of months, for have mercy, it is spring. Natural history, now observable without misery, returns to the forefront of our minds in the chromatic splendor of flowers and tree blossoms, the scents in the air, and the warm sun on our gently perspiring faces. The mysteries we see revealed! Human skin. Baby animals. Tornadoes. Fenders that inexplicably still look whopperjawed after that ice-aided accident in January.

We here at the University of Illinois Press have put aside the temptation to sun ourselves in the verdant pasture between the parking lot and the train tracks in order to help you find a way into nature. Why? Because we care. Pretty much every scientific study not sponsored by the fluorescent lighting industry agrees that connecting with the natural world boosts happiness and adds years to our lives, unless by “connecting” you mean “Dumpster diving with raccoons.” Get in on that free healthiness. And as you do, consult with these UIP volumes in order to better understand all the stuff going on around you.

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pieperIn future years, when the 2010s become a matter of nostalgia and the “What were they thinking?”-related wonder enjoyed by every generation, people will laugh about the neckbeards, and the adult coloring books, and Dubsmash.

When it comes to the increasing fluidity of gender, well, they will probably be over it in a way that, say, the state of North Carolina is not over it right at this moment.

Gender fluidity found one of its first pop culture battlegrounds in sports. In 1960, New York Times sports wag William Barry Furlong went on record wailing about how female shot-putters and the like violated what he called The Image, that is, a traditional female look, body type, and attitude. “Those that frolic athletically in swim suits or brief tennis skirts find it easy to preserve, not to say enhance, that Image,” Furlong mansplained.

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