History can be boring to some people – OK, maybe to a lot more people than certain history buffs on newspaper editorial boards care to acknowledge.
But the Illinois’ Top 200 project, operating in conjunction with the Illinois Bicentennial, has found a way to take bite-sized chunks of history and make them, well, appealing.
The Top 200 project lets people vote online on a variety of topics that coincide with the state’s 200 years of existence.
Not long ago, the project recently named Ernest Hemingway as the state’s favorite Illinois-related author.
On a different subject, online voters said Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the Great Chicago Fire were the state’s most heartbreaking moments.
Here’s how the Illinois Bicentennial Commission explains the project:
“Illinoisans can join the state’s 200th birthday celebration by choosing the 200 greatest people, places, and things in state history in online voting coordinated by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The State Journal-Register, and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
“Every 2 weeks through the rest of 2018, the public will get to select the best movies, most inspiring leaders, greatest books, top businesses and much more. By the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories – the Illinois Top 200.”
So far, voters have weighed in on topics such as the best movies made in Illinois and the best businesses, buildings and historic sites, among others.
The John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour and the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon, by the way, placed third and 10th, respectively, in the top historic site voting.
In the inventions and innovations category, an invention that was born right here in the Sauk Valley – the self-scouring steel plow invented by John Deere in Grand Detour in 1837 – came in at No. 1.
Voting on the current category, top musicians, is underway. Nominees include Muddy Waters, Alison Krauss, Nat King Cole, Smashing Pumpkins and Sir Georg Solti — and, we might add, Rockford’s Cheap Trick.
In the weeks to come, topics such as actors, leaders and unforgettable moments will be up for consideration to join the state’s Top 200.
These topics feed us little morsels of history that are just about the right size for many folks who otherwise might not show a whole lot of interest.
And for that approach, we congratulate the Illinois Top 200 project, and we encourage the public’s participation in it.