Place Names of Illinois

Author: Edward Callary
A comprehensive compendium of Illinois place names and their unique history
Cloth – $39
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Cloth: 11/03/2008
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About the Book

This comprehensive guide illuminates how the history and culture of Illinois are embedded in the names of its towns, cities, and other geographical features. Edward Callary unearths the origins of names of nearly three thousand Illinois communities and the circumstances surrounding their naming and renaming.

Organized alphabetically, the entries are concise, engaging, and full of fascinating detail revealing the rich ethnic history of the state, the impact of industrialization and the coming of the railroads, and insight into local politics and personalities. Many entries concern the names of currently populated places, providing information on local pronunciation, the name’s etymology, and the community’s location, all set in historical and cultural context. The volume also introduces natural and constructed points of interest such as lakes and airports whose names reflect aspects of the state’s history. A general introduction locates Illinois place names in the context of general patterns of place naming in the United States.

An extremely useful reference for scholars of American history, geography, language, and culture, Place Names of Illinois also offers intriguing browsing material for the inquisitive reader and the curious traveler.

About the Author

Edward Callary is an associate professor of English at Northern Illinois University and editor emeritus of Names: A Journal of Onomastics. He is the editor of several books on naming, including Place Names in the Midwestern United States and Surnames, Nicknames, Placenames and Epithets in America: Essays in the Theory of Names.


"It is always rewarding to welcome a new, reader-friendly reference book about Illinois to our shelves . . . Place Names of Illinois, by Edward Callary, is such a book, as entertaining and enlightening a volume as you'll find."--Illinois Heritage

“This volume will be useful for anyone with an interest in or need for resources related to the history of American place-names or the history and geography of Illinois. Highly recommended.”--Choice

“Because each entry includes references, it can serve as a guide for further research about the state and its place-names. Recommended."--Booklist

“It is as useful a reference book as anyone could want for the study of local and state history. . . . In years to come, bets will be settled, arguments will be resolved, and editors will be soothed with the words ‘according to Callary.’”--Journal of Illinois History


“Illinois is blessed in now having available a solid, readable dictionary of the state’s place names. Readers will find all the history, folklore, geography, and quirkiness that make the state special, and this will be an essential reference for academic researchers, genealogists, and historians, as well as people who simply have a natural curiosity about the names around them. This book belongs in the library of every Illinois reader--and in the glove compartment of every Illinois traveler’s car.”--Robert Julyan, author of Place Names of New Mexico

“A significant addition to the place name literature of the United States.”--Ronald L. Baker, author of From Needmore to Prosperity: Hoosier Place Names in Folklore and History