What is the purpose of History on Trial: Historic Cases Project?

History on Trial: Historic Cases Project has two purposes: 

  1. to uncover important cases from Illinois’s rich legal history and publish the data and documents on the internet.
  2. to publish a guidebook to assist individuals and groups who wish to present a historic case in a public venue.

What is involved with the History on Trial: Historic Cases Project?

Illinois has a long tradition of famous lawyers and famous cases, from Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln to Clarence Darrow. The Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission has contacted circuit clerks across Illinois to convene committees to search for cases that meet a certain criteria for deeper study and publication. These casefiles will be digitized, and information about these cases will be entered into a database resulting in the publication of the data and images for the entire world to research and examine.

With the success of History on Trial’s performances of Mary Surratt, Mary Todd Lincoln, Joseph Smith,  Alton School Cases, and Black Sox the Commission is in a unique position to share its knowledge with other groups who are interested in creating their own performances, whether it be a retrial or a re-enactment of a famous case.

With the partnership of The Theatre School at DePaul University, the Commission published a guidebook to give readers step-by-step instructions on how to create an interesting and educational experience.