FILE - Oprah Winfrey

It's another list of big names and big legacies over at this week. 

Three first ladies, Illinois' first African American U.S. Senator, one of the largest female conservative voices in the country, and of course Oprah are all on the list of Illinois' most groundbreaking women. 

Chris Wills with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library said this week's list could be one of the toughest for voters. It was one of the toughest for bicentennial planners. 

"We normally trim it down to 20 nominees. In this case we just threw up our hands and went with 25 I think it is, because there are just so many interesting stories," Wills said. 

Mary Todd Lincoln, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are on the list. As are Jane Byrne, Betty Friedan and Jane Addams. 

"Some of the people are famous, some of them you know from history books or from recent politics, others you may never have heard of. But they are just fascinating people."

Voting closes midday Friday. 

Wills said bicentennial best of voters will have three more lists after the list of ground breaking women. 

Minority trailblazers, top leaders and finally Illinois' most unforgettable moments. 

Then the state will truly have a Top 200 list in time for the state's 200th birthday celebration in December.


An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois statewide issues for INN.

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