Tara McClellan McAndrew

Tara McAndrew McClellan
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Wikimedia Commons

Eighty-two years ago, theatrical impresario Orson Welles panicked the nation with his company’s “War of the Worlds” Halloween Eve radio broadcast. That was the reported story, but the truth is more complicated.


When Prohibition became law 100 years ago, it led to bootlegging and gang warfare throughout Illinois. Its effect in Chicago is well-known, but its impact on Southern Illinois was equally devastating. 

In the 1920s, among Southern Illinois’ hundreds of moonshine stills, hills  and hamlets were gangsters whose lawlessness rivaled Chicago’s. However, few people outside of those bottomlands know their names today. 

National Archives and Records Administration

The worst pandemic in recent history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was the 1918 so-called “Spanish flu” pandemic, caused by a virus “with genes of avian origin.” This was caused by a different virus than COVID-19 – coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hopkinsmedicine.org. Spanish flu hit America in the spring of 1918 and wasn’t finished with us until the summer of 1919. 

An 1859 illustration of John A. Logan.
Gillam Bernhard / Library of Congress

One was sold away from her children. Another was freed and became a businessman. Others were freed only to be kidnapped and sold back into slavery. These are just a few stories of people who were enslaved in Illinois.

Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

2020 is the 75th anniversary of America dropping atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II. Without Illinois, there wouldn’t have been nuclear medicine, nuclear power or nuclear weapons.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

 It was a logical step for a state that granted suffrage rights years before.   

“Put Illinois over first!” was the battle cry of suffragists 100 years ago this month, reported Springfield’s June 9, 1919 Daily Illinois State Register. They were at the Statehouse lobbying for the Prairie State to be the first to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would give American women the right to vote. Congress had passed it on June 4 and 36 states had to approve it to become law.

It took Illinois less than sixty minutes.

Jennie Hodgers AKA Albert Cashier served in the Company G of the 95th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which fought at Vicksburg.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

An Illinois woman posed as a man and served in the infantry during the Civil War. Was she transgender?

The first Illinois capitol at Kaskaskia.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Archives

Prairie politicians didn't let challenges, like rules, get in their way, historians say.

Mary Cullen / NPR ILLINOIS | 91.9 UIS

Part 1: Radium poisoning took the lives of perhaps thousands of female factory workers, many in Ottawa, Illinois, in the last century.

Library of Congress

Updating history 

This year is the centennial of America’s entry into World War I. Most stories about the war focus on the fighting overseas, but there was another struggle taking place. An American icon from Illinois helped lead that battle and, for a time, paid for it with her reputation.   

Library of Congress

In April, 1865, there was a major tragedy in American history, but it’s not the one you think. Days after Abraham Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, there was a disaster on the Mississippi River that killed more people than the Titanic sinking. However, news of it was dwarfed by Lincoln’s death. Yet he was tied to this event, too.
Tara McClellan McAndrew describes the disaster in this history story, courtesy of the Sangamon County Historical Society. Much of the information comes from Jerry Potter’s book, “The Sultana Tragedy.”



Today’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration has changed over the last one hundred sixty years, but a few things remain the same. The Irish still wear green, parade, and finish with a big party. Our local history segment is sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society.

An old pocketwatch
Credit IsabellaGrosjea / Wikimedia Commons

There are eleven time zones in Russia. That sounds crazy, but America used to be much worse. Every city had its own time zone until we synchronized our clocks.  Our local history series, sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society, looks at how it changed.


The Ku Klux Klan was in the news again during last year’s election. While white supremacist groups are on the rise again, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, they are nowhere near as prevalent as they were in the 1920s, when Klansmen served in all levels of government.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Because Illinois is a northern state and the former home of Abraham Lincoln, it isn’t typically associated with slavery. But there was slavery in Illinois for more than 100 years.

Even after Illinois entered the Union, loopholes in its laws allowed the practice to continue, making the future Land of Lincoln a quasi-slave state. 


Here's an episode from our history series for those still in the Valentine's Day spirit. On that day in 1929 - seven Chicago gangsters were murdered in a surprise attack. The Valentine's Day massacre was a huge shock to the city, and its aftershocks were felt in central Illinois almost immediately. 

Illinoisans who have led
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In many states, including Illinois, Abraham Lincoln's February twelfth birthday is a holiday. But it's not in others. The federal government has never declared it a national holiday, despite one man's lifelong efforts.

Today we get ice from our freezer. But without refrigeration, our ancestors had to buy it from local icemen who were busy harvesting this time of year. Tara McClellan McAndrew brings us this historical account. It's an installment of our history series, sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society. Eric Woods provides additional narration:


CLICK HERE for more information about ice harvesting.

Tara McClellan McAndrew
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS/Illinois Issues



courtesy of Tara McClellan McAndrew

Today is the primary election for municipal offices, and we're bringing you a story about a campaign tradition back in Abraham Lincoln's era. Our historical stories are sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society and written by Tara McClellan McAndrew, local history columnist for the State Journal-Register. The actors who joined her in this piece were Tom Hutchison and Doug McDonald.