State History
Learn about the history of Illinois and find fun and interesting things to do and see all across Illinois. We've also found the best books, guides, websites, and other resources to make your study of Illinois fun and educational.
Things to See & Do in Illinois
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Led by Brigham Young, roughly 70,000 Mormons traveled along the Mormon Pioneer Trail from 1846 to 1869 in order to escape religious persecution. The general route is from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Salt Lake City, Utah, covering about 1,300 miles. The Mormon Pioneer Trail travels through five states over both public and private land.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis & William Clark began a voyage of discovery with 45 men, a keelboat, two pirogues,and a dog. They departed from Camp Wood located in what was to become Illinois. They traveled over a three-year period through lands that later became 11 states. Most of the trail follows the Missouri & Columbia Rivers. Much has changed in 200 years but trail portions remain intact. At 3700 miles, Lewis & Clark NHT is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic & National Historic Trails. It begins at Hartford, IL & passes through portions of MO, KS, IA, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, OR, & WA. Many people follow the trail by auto; others find adventure in the sections that encourage boating, biking, or hiking. You can still see the White Cliffs in Montana as Lewis & Clark did. You may stand where they stood looking over the rolling plains at Spirit Mound in South Dakota. You might meet the descendants of the people who hosted Lewis & Clark all along the trail. It remains for your discovery.
Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor
The Illinois & Michigan Canal, completed in 1848, connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River watershed along a longstanding Indian portage route. The 97-mile canal extended from the Chicago River near Lake Michigan to the Illinois River at Peru, Illinois. It rapidly transformed Chicago from a small settlement to a critical transportation hub between the East and the developing Midwest. The towpath trail along the canal is a State park that runs through a rural and wooded landscape linking a number of towns laid out by the original canal commission.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
The Lincoln home in Springfield, the centerpiece of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, has been restored to its 1860s appearance, revealing Lincoln as husband, father, politician, and President-elect. It stands in the midst of a four block historic neighborhood which the National Park Service is restoring so that the neighborhood, like the house, will appear much as Lincoln would have remembered it.
Teaching Tips & Ideas
Knowledge Quest
Knowledge Quest offers historical outline maps and timelines designed for the interactive study of world history and geography.
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: History
A look at teaching history across several grades using the classical method of education and a rotation of history every four years.
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Featured Resources

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