The 21st Show

Best of: Book explores Illinois’ journey to statehood


“During the eventful months of 1817 and 1818, the themes that have defined the Prairie State consistently throughout its history – patronage, race, infrastructure, and political intrigue – marked Illinois’s unique transformation from territory to state.”

That’s a passage from the new book, Avenues of Transformation: Illinois’s Path From Territory to State by James A. Edstrom. He teaches state and American history as a professor of library services and history at Harper College in Palatine. He earned an undergrad degree and two master’s from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He’s also worked for the Urbana Free Library, the Illinois State Library, and the Illinois State Historical Library.

His new book looks at the persuasion and power that went into Illinois statehood and how we’re still living with the consequences of decisions made more than 200 years ago, such as slavery and Black codes.

Versions of this conversation originally aired on Aug. 11, 2022 and Jan. 2, 2023. 


Jim Edstrom

Author, Avenues of Transformation: Illinois’s Path From Territory to State | Professor, Library Services and History at Harper College