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People Activities

The History of Illinois Agriculture presents these activities and lesson plans to teachers, students, and anyone interested in exploring the themes and research we covered in the Web site. All ages will enjoy many of these activities.

Art Activities:

For the student of genealogical and historical research:
Farm Family History Research Unit:
How to Analyze Historical Photographs
How to take an Oral History
How to Use Genealogical Resources
How to Search Public Land Sales Records
How to Search and Read County Plat Maps
How to Find Other Primary and Secondary Resources

For students of science and math:
Webquest: Illinois Prairie — Changing an Ecosystem
Play the role of a pioneer farmer, a botanist, a zoologist, or an ecologist in this group lesson, use internet sites to research your topics, and create a trophic pyramid and a food web for the prairie ecosystem and for the farm ecosystem on the land when the pioneer farmer begins farming.

Mechanization of Farming:
Analyze and calculate man-hours and costs of farm production in two eras of Illinois farming.

Read an article on New Philadelphia, the first African-American Illinois settlement.

Resources on Agriculture

Print Resources for More Information on Agricultural History Topics:
Farm-themed Books for Children and Young Adults

Aliki (1996). Corn is Maize: The Gift of the Indians. Harper Collins Children’s Books. ISBN: 0064450260. Ages 5-9. Tells the cultural importance of corn in Native American cultures.

Artley, Bob (2000). Once Upon a Farm. Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN: 1565547535. Young Adult. Nostalgic story of farm life by a retired farmer based on his memories of growing up and farming

Bial, Raymond (1995). Portrait of a Farm Family. Houghton Mifflin Publishing ISBN: 0395699363. Ages 9-11. Portrays the life of the Steidinger family on the farm.

Peck, Richard (2000). Long Way from Chicago. Puffin books. ISBN: 0141303522. Young Adult. In 1929 Chicago kids go to spend time on a small Illinois farm.

Peck, Richard (2001) Fair Weather: A Novel. Dial Books. ISBN: 0803725167. Young Adult. Teens from a small farm in eastern Illinois visit relatives in Chicago in 1893 and go to the World’s Fair. Compares rural and city life, especially for females.


Ankli, Robert E. Gross Farm Revenue in Pre-Civil War Illinois. Arno Press.

Birkbeck, Morris and Flower, George (1968). History of the English Settlement in Edwards County Illinois, founded in 1817 and 1818, by Morris Birkbeck and George Flower. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor.

Calkins, Earnest E. (1937, reprint, 1989). They Broke the Prairie: Being some account of the settlement of the upper Mississippi valley by religious and education pioneers, told in terms of Galesburg. University of Illinois Press.

Cobbett, William (1828). A Year’s Residence in the United States of America, part 3. Published by the author in London. Online at's+residence,+in+the+United+States+of+America+)) Library of Congress, American memory Project, Travels in America. (10/30/03)

Faragher, John Mack (1986). Sugar Creek: Life on the Illinois Prairie. Yale University Press.

Fernandes, Vernon R. Q. (1995) Faces and Places: a Morgan County Family Album. Jacksonville Journal-Courier.

Woods, John (Paul L. Angle, Ed.) (1968). Two Years’ Residence on the English Prairie of Illinois. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, Chicago. Portions are also online at the Library of Congress’ American Memory Project – Travels in America.