Individual Author Record
Hart was born in Ottawa, Illinois, and attended school and was raised in Springfield, Illinois. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he received his B.A. in 1964 and his J.D. in 1967. He was admitted to practice law in 1967 and has been a practicing attorney in Springfield for the last fifty-two years. He is a partner in the firm of Hart, Southworth & Witsman.
Biographical and Professional Information
Richard E. Hart is a past President of The Abraham Lincoln Association and member of the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He is a past President and board member of the Sangamon County Historical Society, past Chairman of the Advisory Board of The Lincoln Legal Papers, and past President and member of the Board of Directors of the Elijah Iles House Foundation. Hart was largely responsible for raising the funds and managing the day-to-day restoration of the Elijah Iles House and the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, two ca. 1840 Greek Revival residences.
Hart is also past President of Springfield Preservation, Ltd., a for-profit corporation that has restored and leased five Lincoln-era houses in Springfield’s German Settlers Row.
Hart suggested the format for the Looking for Lincoln project in Springfield and donated his personal historical research and ideas that were used for that project.
Hart and his wife Ann were also responsible for proposing the design for the City of Springfield’s streetscape. Their design proposal and advocacy was adopted in lieu of another proposal for a contemporary design. As a part of their advocacy, the Harts purchased and donated the first period lights for Springfield’s streetscape. Since that first donation, the use of the design has spread throughout downtown Springfield and is now moving into several neighborhoods, including the Iles Park Neighborhood.
In 1999, Hart was given the City of Springfield’s Preservationist of the Year award.
In 2012, Hart was presented with the Logan Hay Medal. The bronze medal is awarded infrequently and is the highest honor given by The Abraham Lincoln Association to recognize individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to the mission of the Association.
In 2014, Hart was awarded the Illinois State Historical Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions over the decades to promoting the history of the Prairie State.
In 2015, Hart was awarded the Springfield NAACP Chapter’s 2015 Legal and Political Award.
From 2003 until 2015, Hart served on the Board of Managers of Oak Ridge Cemetery and was Chairman of the Board of Managers of Oak Ridge Cemetery. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Springfield Illinois African American History Foundation Museum and served from. Hart remains a member of the Board of Directors of The Abraham Lincoln Association and of the Elijah Iles House Foundation.
For ten years Hart has been the editor of For The People, a newsletter of The Abraham Lincoln Association, and the Iles Files, a newsletter of the Elijah Iles House Foundation.
Hart’s personal interest has been in the history of Springfield during the time that Abraham Lincoln lived there and in particular in the presence there of African-Americans. He is also interested in particular areas of Sangamon County during the period of early settlement. He has divided his published research on these two areas into the Spring Creek Series focusing on Lincoln’s Springfield, and the Sugar Creek Series focusing on the early settlement of Cotton Hill and Ball Townships in Sangamon County.
The Spring Creek Series includes the following titles:
Lincoln’s Springfield – The Public Square (1823-1865) (2004); Springfield, Illinois’ Nineteenth Century Photographers (2005); Early Sangamon County Antiques – The Barringer Exhibit (2005) (Editor); Lincoln’s Springfield – The Underground Railroad (2006); Lincoln’s Springfield – The Early African American Population (2008); The Early Court Houses of Sangamon County, Illinois (1821-1837) (2008); Lincoln in Illinois: The Bicentennial of the Birth of Abraham Lincoln (2009) (Editor); Abel W. Estabrook: Robert Todd Lincoln’s Abolitionist Teacher (2009); Lincoln’s Springfield – Springfield’s Early Schools (2009); The Colored Section, Oak Ridge Cemetery (2009); Lincoln’s Springfield – Greek Revival Architecture on the Prairie (2011); Camp Butler: A Civil War Story: Photographs of Union Soldiers (2013); Circuses in Lincoln’s Springfield (1833-1860) (2013); Preston Butler: Photographer in Lincoln’s Springfield (2014); Jameson Jenkins and James Blanks, African Americans in Lincoln’s Springfield (2014); Lincoln’s Springfield: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln: May 3rd and 4th, 1865 (2015); Lincoln’s Springfield Neighborhood (2015); Lincoln’s Springfield: Entertainment in Lincoln’s Springfield (1834-1860) (2017); Lincoln’s Springfield–Chair and Cabinet Makers (1831-1860) (2017); Lincoln’s Springfield: Benjamin Robert Biddle: Lincoln’s Tailor and Friend (2018); Lincoln’s Springfield: Elizabeth Jane Todd Grimsley Brown (2018); The Collected Works of Thomas Lincoln Carpenter and Cabinetmaker (2019); Lincoln’s Springfield: Letters of Springfield Ladies (2020); Lincoln’s Springfield: Letters From California and Oregon 1845-1852 (2020); Lincoln’s Springfield: The Todd Brothers (2020); Lincoln’s Springfield: Joel Johnson Springfield Hotel Keeper (2021); Lincoln’s Springfield: The German Population (2021); Slavery in Lincoln’s Hardin County, Kentucky (2021)
The Sugar Creek Series includes the following titles:
Jones Cemetery Tour: Ball, Cotton Hill & Woodside Township, Sangamon County, Illinois (2002); Philemon Stout Cemetery: Ball Township, Sangamon County, Illinois (2006); Christopher Newcomer Cemetery: Woodside Township, Sangamon County, Illinois (2009); Sugar Creek Cemetery: Ball Township, Sangamon County, Illinois (2010); Vigal Cemetery: Cotton Hill Township, Sangamon County, Illinois (2010); David Brunk Cemetery: Ball Township, Sangamon County, Illinois (2010); Cumberland Sugar Creek Cemetery, The Old Burying Ground (2012); George Brunk Cemetery, Cotton Hill Township, Sangamon County, Illinois (2012)
Titles At Your Library