Past Event

Booth Shot Lincoln: Folksongs of Illinois, 1818 to 1960

A Road Scholar Program by Bucky Halker

Illinois has rich and diverse folk music traditions that remain underrecognized by both specialists and the general public. From the beginning of Illinois statehood through the folk revival that swept the nation and state in the 1950s, the many people who have made Illinois their home produced a huge body of folksongs and music.

What better time than the Illinois Bicentennial to invite the citizens of our state to hear and appreciate the folk music legacy of the Land of Lincoln? This music includes historical ballads that recount the stories of a broad range of events, many of them catastrophic, from floods and tornados to murders and coal mining disasters. Such ballads allowed community members to remember important events of their history at a time when newspapers and literacy were less common around the state.

This body of song also encompasses protest songs from mills and mines, as well as labor anthems to bolster the spirits of workers at demonstrations or union gatherings. We might also add to this hundreds of gospel songs and fiddle tunes, legions of bluegrass and early country songs, and dance tunes from every ethnic group to settle in the Prairie State. “Booth Shot Lincoln” brings a sample of these songs to life through both performance and commentary.

Bucky Halker draws on his extensive knowledge of Illinois folk music gained from years of research and his production of the five-volume CD series, Folksongs of Illinois. Halker has also spent twenty years curating concerts and festivals featuring folk and ethnic music from throughout the state and its many communities. This presentation runs approximately 60-70 minutes, with additional time for questions and answers.

Upon request, Halker will supplement his presentation with selections from the CD series representing various musical traditions found in Illinois.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Linda Kurth at or Sheila Johnsen at