Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David L. Lightner  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History


-- David L. Lightner on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

David Lightner was an associate professor at the University of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

David Lightner is a Professor Emeritus from the University of Alberta.He is working on a biography of singer and comedian Winnie Lightner (no relation to him), who was the foremost female star of Warner Brothers pictures in the early 1930s.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Asylum, Prison, and Poorhouse: The Writings and Reform Work of Dorothea Dix in Illinois
ISBN: 0809321637

Southern Illinois University Press. 1999

This illustrated collection of annotated newspaper articles and memorials by Dorothea Dix provides a forum for the great mid-nineteenth-century humanitarian and reformer to speak for herself.

Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802­–87) was perhaps the most famous and admired woman in America for much of the nineteenth century. Beginning in the early 1840s, she launched a personal crusade to persuade the various states to provide humane care and effective treatment for the mentally ill by funding specialized hospitals for that purpose. The appalling conditions endured by most mentally ill inmates in prisons, jails, and poorhouses led her to take an active interest also in prison reform and in efforts to ameliorate poverty.

In 1846–­47 Dix brought her crusade to Illinois. She presented two lengthy memorials to the legislature, the first describing conditions at the state penitentiary at Alton and the second discussing the sufferings of the insane and urging the establishment of a state hospital for their care. She also wrote a series of newspaper articles detailing conditions in the jails and poorhouses of many Illinois communities.

These long-forgotten documents, which appear in unabridged form in this book, contain a wealth of information on the living conditions of some of the most unfortunate inhabitants of Illinois. In his preface, David L. Lightner describes some of the vivid images that emerge from Dorothea Dix's descriptions of social conditions in Illinois a century and a half ago: "A helpless maniac confined throughout the bitter cold of winter to a dark and filthy pit. Prison inmates chained in hallways and cellars because no more men can be squeezed into the dank and airless cells. Aged paupers auctioned off by county officers to whoever will maintain them at the lowest cost."

Lightner provides an introduction to every document, placing each memorial and newspaper article in its proper social and historical context. He also furnishes detailed notes, making these documents readily accessible to readers a century and a half later. In his final chapter, Lightner assesses both the immediate and the continuing impact of Dix's work.

Labor on the Illinois Central Railroad, 1852-1900: The Evolution of an Industrial Environment (Dissertations in American Economic History)
ISBN: 0405099142

Ayer Co Pub. 1977

Scholarly examination of how Illinois Central management supervised railroad employees as the new industrial economy grew. The author investigates wages, hours, and working conditions of railroaders the attitude of managers towards the work force and the methods by which employers endeavored to recruit, train, discipline, and provide for the safety and welfare of their employees. The book begins with the IC recruiting labor for the construction of the Charter line, and examines the corporation's handling of labor (including accidents and compensation) during the Civil War, the development of rational practices, the rise of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the Strike of 1877, the effects of the Panic of 1893, the Pullman Boycott, health care, etc. over the years. 437 pages.

Slavery and the Commerce Power: How the Struggle Against the Interstate Slave Trade Led to the Civil War
ISBN: 0300114702

Yale University Press. 2006

Despite the United States’ ban on slave importation in 1808, profitable interstate slave trading continued. The nineteenth century’s great cotton boom required vast human labor to bring new lands under cultivation, and many thousands of slaves were torn from their families and sold across state lines in distant markets. Shocked by the cruelty and extent of this practice, abolitionists called upon the federal government to exercise its constitutional authority over interstate commerce and outlaw the interstate selling of slaves. This groundbreaking book is the first to tell the complex story of the decades-long debate and legal battle over federal regulation of the slave trade.

David Lightner explores a wide range of constitutional, social, and political issues that absorbed antebellum America. He revises accepted interpretations of various historical figures, including James Madison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Abraham Lincoln, and he argues convincingly that southern anxiety over the threat to the interstate slave trade was a key precipitant to the secession of the South and the Civil War.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)