Illinois became the twenty-first state of the United States in 1818. Its name derives from the word iliniwek, meaning tribe of the superior men. The state’s nickname is the Prairie State. While Springfield is the state capital, Chicago is a very large transportation center for rail, air and water. Springfield was the site of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. Illinois still grows large amounts of corn and soybeans, but it also has deposits of coal and gas. The monarch butterfly is the state insect. Children could visit an Internet site at: Illinois. Monarch butterflies make annual migrations to winter in trees in Mexico, California and Florida. Children could find out more about the monarch butterfly and its migration patterns.
League of Women Voters was organized in 1920. Carrie Chapman Catt founded the group in Chicago, Illinois, and the purpose is to promote nonpartisan political action. All fifty states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico have chapters. Children can visit the website at: http://www.lwv.org/.
McDonald’s opened its first franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois, in 1955. A hamburger was fifteen cents, French fries cost ten cents, and a milkshake was twenty cents. Today more than 34,000 restaurants serve 68 million customers daily in 119 countries. Children can view an interesting timeline at: McDonald’s.
Adler Planetarium, the first United States planetarium, opened in Chicago in 1930. The planetarium is still as active as ever! Children can learn more at: http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/
Ellen Church became the first woman flight attendant in 1930. The United Airlines employee flew from San Francisco, California, to Chicago, Illinois. The 20-hour flight stopped at numerous cities. Female flight attendants became more common, but they often had to help pilots, process luggage, or push airplanes into hangars.
Northwest Ordinance was created in 1787. It provided for the government of the territory north of the Ohio River. However, it was the foundation for all other American territorial governments. It established how the territory could eventually become a state, and it guaranteed basic freedoms for its inhabitants. States carved from the Northwest Territory include Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. Idea: Older children could read a transcript of the document at: Northwest Ordinance. Children could find out how a territory became a state.
Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned for thirty hours. Legend states Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern and started a fire in her barn. Almost one hundred thousand people lost their homes, and over 200 people died. Children could learn more at: Chicago Fire.
Peshtigo Forest Fire also started in 1871. Experts believe this to be one of the most damaging forest fires ever. The fire began in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and spread across six counties. More than 1,100 people died. Children could learn more at: Peshtigo Forest Fire.
Barbed wire was patented in 1874 by Joseph Glidden of Dekalb, Illinois. Ranchers quickly found his invention to be invaluable, and Glidden became very rich. Barbed wire really changed ranching in the West. Young historians could find out the advantages and disadvantages of barbed wire. View his patent at: Barbed Wire Patent.