Press Release


Free Living History Programs Explore the Life and Times of Lewis and Clark

CHICAGO – This summer, take a guided tour of the past with the Illinois Humanities Council’s 2004 Heartland Chautauqua. “Changed Lives: Lewis and Clark Meet the West,” this year’s Chautauqua (pronounced “shuh-TAH-kwuh”),will take the town of Alton on an expedition through the lives and experiences of some of the 19th century’s most influential and interesting historical figures.

Produced in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council, this summer’s Chautauqua includes a troupe of six actor/scholars who will lead audiences in a series of explorations that provide insight into life during America’s westward expansion. Sacagawea, Andrew Jackson, Lewis and Clark’s guide York, interpreter George Drouillard, and representatives from both the Eastern Shawnee and the Sac & Fox tribes will engage audiences with their unique tales about a time of incredible growth and political tension. With their intimate and distinct connections to Lewis and Clark, each character provides a novel perspective on the achievement of the country’s greatest explorers at a time when the future of the United States was uncertain. The Chautauqua performers speak in first-person dressed in full costume and field audience questions (both in and out of character) after their presentations.

The 2004 Heartland Chautauqua tour will visit Alton (Haskell Park, 1211 Henry Street)for the week of June 21-25. Each evening, one of the Chautauquans will perform “under the tent” as the day’s featured speaker. Evening performances are preceded by live music. During each day of the event, the Chautauquans will also perform at local community centers and businesses. On the first night in town, community members are invited to relive the 100-year-old tradition of raising the Chautauqua circus tent, which hosts the performances.

Chautauquas began in the 19th century as a vehicle to bring education and entertainment to small Midwestern towns by presenting great oratory, music and drama. Chautauquans, including William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt, would travel from town to town exchanging ideas under the big tent, typical of all Chautauqua performances.

In the 1970s, State Humanities Councils revived the lost art of Chautauqua as a community event for all ages. In 1995, the Illinois Humanities Council joined the Missouri Humanities Council in producing this event, thus creating the “Heartland Chautauqua.” In addition to Alton, this year’s “Heartland Chautauqua” will visit two communities in Missouri:

  • June 7-12, Carthage, MO, Powers Museum
  • June 14-19, Maryville, MO, Missouri State University

For further information please call the 2004 Heartland Chautauqua local contact, Sam Stenn, at 618.465.3535, or contact the IHC at 312.422.5580. Information may also be obtained by visiting the IHC website at


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