This collection contains photocopies of articles and documents, newspapers, photographs, and research notes compiled by Richard Phillips about the history of Fort Crevecoeur and the debate over its exact location near Peoria, Illinois.
Fort Crevecoeur was constructed from January to March 1680 by French explorers under the leadership of Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. The fort was destroyed and looted in April 1680 by members of La Salle's expedition while La Salle was obtaining supplies in Canada and his second-in-command, Henri de Tonti, was preparing fortifications at Fort St. Louis near Starved Rock on the Illinois River. A second fort, named Fort St. Louis II or Fort Pimiteoui, was constructed near the site of Fort Crevecoeur in 1691 by de Tonti. This fort and the surrounding community, which became Peoria, Illinois, remained under the control of France until it was ceded, along with the rest of New France, to Great Britain in 1763.
Richard Phillips (1908-1982), developed an interest in the history of Fort Crevecoeur while residing in East Peoria. He worked as a photographer and newspaper publisher with the Peoria Journal and the Tazewell Publishing Company. He was also the editor and publisher of Iliniwek, a bimonthly newspaper about early Illinois history topics that ran from 1963-1976. While living in East Peoria, Phillips began researching the locations of Fort Crevecoeur and Fort St. Louis II which had been debated among historians and local heritage groups. He joined the debate by proposing a more northern site near Lake Peoria for both forts, which rejected the southern location claimed by the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) and the Illinois State Historical Society decades earlier. This claim was outlined in a 1976 edition of Iliniwek.
The collection includes 30 boxes which contain photograph copies of articles and maps, correspondence, newspapers, clippings, photographs, and research notes. These items were originally organized by Betty Madden, a colleague of Phillips who worked as a curator of art at the Illinois State Museum and was a board member of the Illinois State Historical Society.
The collection is organized into two parts or series. Part I includes research materials used to support the fort locations claimed by Phillips. Among these materials are a hand-drawn map showing proposed fort locations, a complete set of Iliniwek, books and journals with information about Native American villages and geography, maps of Fort Crevecoeur and Fort St. Louis II, book chapters and articles about the history of the site and early French leaders in the area, plats, surveys, and photographs. Part II contains information about the historiographical debate over the forts' locations. This part of the collection includes documents from the D.A.R., the Illinois State Historical Society, and Arthur Lagron, a member of the French Military Engineers, discussing the proposed locations; correspondence of Ernest East, member of the Peoria Historical Society, and others; proposed map forgeries from a 1925 report; and articles about the location controversy and the creation of a park at the site.
The collection was donated to the Library in 1982 by Reverend Harold F. Schmitt according to the wishes of Richard Phillips before his death the same year.