White pitcher with blue design that reads "Lovejoy, the first martyr to American liberty".

Elijah Lovejoy, Abolitionist Printer

  • Event Date: Thursday, June 17, 2021
  • Time: 4:00 pm (CDT)
  • Location: Online
  • Cost: Free

When Elijah Parish Lovejoy was killed by a pro-slavery mob for his publication of an anti-slavery newspaper in Alton, Illinois, it only deepened abolitionist feelings. Learn more about the legacy of the printer and abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy in a talk with UIUC's Rare Book and Manuscript Library curator, Adam Doskey.

Webinar Details

  • The Zoom ID is: 837 4918 9350
  • The Passcode is: 577981

The Iconography of Elijah Lovejoy

The English transferware pitcher memorializing abolitionist printer Elijah Lovejoy’s murder at the hands of an angry pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois, in 1837 (in the Spurlock’s current exhibit, “Debates, Decisions, Demands: Objects of Campaigns and Activism,”) is a starting point for this lecture on the popular image of Elijah Lovejoy.

This talk looks back at the origins of anti-slavery ceramics in late Eighteenth-Century England, while also looking forward to the use of Lovejoy as a figurehead for civil rights and the freedom of speech and the press in the American Midwest of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Central to this discussion will be the publications of the long-serving Illinois politician and 1988 presidential hopeful, Paul Simon, author of Lovejoy, Martyr to Freedom in 1964, which was revised and republished in 1994 as Freedom’s Champion: Elijah Lovejoy.

Adam Doskey is completing his term as Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois this summer. During his six years in that capacity, he co-curated the exhibit Designed, Displayed, and Discarded: Ephemeral Printing in Alton, Illinois, 1835-1855 with Krista Gray of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections for the Illinois state bicentennial in 2018. The 2018 exhibit was based around Doskey and Gray’s long-standing work to conserve a scrapbook of job printing compiled by the Alton Telegraph Printing Office during the mid-nineteenth century, a valuable source of information for both early printing in Illinois and everyday life in this contentious city situated on the border between pro-slavery Missouri and anti-slavery Illinois. Beginning in the fall, Adam will be the proprietor of an online bookselling business based in Columbus, Georgia.

Image Credits: Pitcher depicting Elijah Lovejoy as a martyr. The People's Collection, U.S. History and Culture. 2017.06.0024.

/img/White pitcher with blue design that reads "Lovejoy, the first martyr to American liberty".
Please note that this program does NOT take place at the Spurlock Museum.
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For further information on this event, contact Katya Reno at or (217)-244-8483

To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please contact Brian Cudiamat at or (217) 244-5586.