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1908 Springfield Race Riot - Special Resource Study

Denver Service Center » 1908 Springfield Race Riot - Special Resource Study » Document List

The National Park Service is pleased to announce the finalization of a special resource study of the site near Madison Street and the 10th Street Rail Corridor in Springfield, Illinois, associated with the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, in which African Americans were targeted and victimized by mass racial violence. The study was directed by Congress through the Springfield Race Riot Study Act of 2020 (Public Law: 116-139) to study the site under Congressionally mandated criteria to further evaluate the eligibility of the site for potential designation as a new national park unit. All criteria must have positive findings in order for an area to be considered eligible for inclusion in the national park system.

What is a special resource study?

A special resource study evaluates the eligibility of an area to be recommended for designation as a unit in the national park system. The study evaluates criteria for inclusion in the national park system and is designed to provide Congress with information about the resource qualities at the site, the potential for visitor enjoyment, and alternatives for protection, which can be used in the legislative process of designating potential additions to the national park system. The National Park Service prepares the study for the Secretary of the Interior; the findings and any recommendations will then be presented to Congress. Regardless of the outcome of the study, new units of the national park system can only be established by an Act of Congress or by Presidential Proclamation.

The purpose of this special resource study is to gather information about the 1908 Springfield Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois through historical research and public input, and then to report these findings to Congress. The special resource study evaluated the potential for inclusion of areas in the national park system based upon whether it meets established criteria for significance, suitability, feasibility, and the need for NPS management.

Project Background

A reconnaissance survey was prepared in 2019 to provide a preliminary evaluation of the property as a potential new unit of the national park system. The survey analyzed the suitability, feasibility, and need for NPS to manage the site. Based on the findings in the reconnaissance survey, it was determined that further analysis through a Congressionally authorized special resource study was warranted. The Springfield Race Riot Study Act of 2020 (Public Law: 116-139) directed the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the site to evaluate its national significance and determine the suitability and feasibility of designating it as a unit of the national park system.

The 1908 Springfield Race Riot took place over the course of a weekend during which a large White mob targeted Black homes and businesses looting, burning, assaulting, and killing. Most of the destruction took place Friday, August 14, 1908, in the Levee and Badlands neighborhoods, where a majority of city's African American residents lived. Rioting in the Badlands commenced at the corner of 9th and Madison Streets, on the same block as the study area that is the subject of this reconnaissance survey. Since the study area was one of the first places targeted by rioters in the Badlands, the area experienced a significant amount of devastation. The study area consists of an archeological site that preserves the remains of homes burned during the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, and other sites around Springfield that played an important role in the riot and its aftermath.

Contact Information

Tokey Boswell
Associate Regional Director for Facilities, Planning & Infrastructure
tokey_boswell@nps.gov
402-661-1720