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Prairie Fire: The Illinois Country before 1818

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Image, Menstrual Lodge, James D. Smillie, Vol 5, 1853, Prairie Fire

French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliette's famed expedition landed them in Illinois Country in 1673, land occupied by Native Americans for more than a century. This website traces the history of Illinois Country from 1673 through Illinois statehood in 1818.

Still under construction, a wealth of primary and secondary source materials are currently available. More than 100 texts and 500 images shed light on prominent themes in Illinois history: African-American Experience, Economic Development and Labor, Frontier Settlement, Law and Society, Politics, Religion and Culture, Women and Gender, and the Black Hawk War. A narrative history of "the Indian Experience" provides useful historical context and 15 videos address topics such as Jesuit Relations and the fur trade.