Whoa. This year’s Illinois History Conference will have a panel on Route 66 – sounds like your scriveners here are going legit! Yes, fellow roadies, friends and neighbors, Joe, Keith and I had our proposal for a panel on Route 66 in Illinois accepted earlier this spring, and now we’re busy oranizing that for the history conference that will be held on Thursday and Friday, September 25-26 in Springfield, IL. Wheee!!! We’re so excited that the route is getting scholarly Respect in this manner (not to mention that we get to put in a modest plug for our in-progress Route 66 book). More important, it’s happening right before the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival car show in Springfield (it’s that very weekend), and anyone who’s coming to that and wants to attend our session at the conference can still register for it (see p. 2 of the downloadable PDF conference flyer).
Our panel session on Route 66 is scheduled on Friday, September 26 from 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield, just west of Historic U.S. Route 66/Business Interstate 55. That puts us just down the street from the Adams Street headquarters of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway. One-day registration for Friday’s sessions, which begin at 8:30 am, is $50 in advance, $55 on site. If you wish to attend the luncheon that day, that’s another $25; see the conference flyer for further details. But look at it this way: if you’re already going to be in Springfield for the Mother Road Festival, why not take in a session about Route 66, too? After all, how often do you get to do that?
Our panel’s topic on Friday the 26th will be the ongoing relationship between historic preservation and tourism on Route 66, which makes sense not only as subject matter but also considering that the annual meeting is sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. In attendance will be history teachers of all kinds in addition to profesional historians and preservationists – and, in our case (we hope), also people involved in tourism along the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, which is what the Illinois section of the former U.S. Route 66 is called these days (not every state’s section of historic Route 66 is an official National Scenic Byway, at this point, but ours has been since 2005). Also, on Thursday the 25th, that night’s banquet speaker at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will be Dennis H. Cremin, the Lewis University history professor and director of Lewis’s History Center whose wonderful book on Grant Park, published last year, recently earned the Illinois State Historical Society’s Book of the Year Award. I’ve read it, and Cremin deserves his considerable reputation – it’s a fascinating book, particularly for Chicagoans.
In addition to holding the annual conference, managing 56 historic sites and monuments in the state, and operating and maintaining the Illinois State Historical Library collection and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IHPA provides architectural services to people involved in historic preservation projects in Illinois – including those on Route 66 – which means that if you’re involved in a preservation project along the route in Illinois and you’re not already in touch with IHPA, you should be, if only to learn about all the resources to which the agency can direct you. It couldn’t hurt.
Just so you know, the Mother Road Festival events will begin that Friday evening with a custom and classic car cruise through the downtown area at 6:15 pm (cars will begin lining up at 5 pm a few miles south at the Capital City Shopping Center Parking Lot (3095 S. Dirksen Pkwy.). If you’re not participating in that but would prefer to watch instead (oooh, naughty you!), the “Monet of Cars” – some cool cars from Dick Levi’s private collection – will be on display two blocks from the convention center at 6th and Monroe Streets, beginning at 6 pm; and starting at 7 pm just two streets south of the “Monet” cars, there will be live music by the group Sh-Boom over at the Hot Rod Stage, 6th and Washington Streets. Sounds like a lively evening to top off your day after our Route 66 panel session in the afternoon!
We’ll write more about the upcoming Illinois History Conference as the date gets nearer and we have more details.
Until next time,