Jim Ridings was born in Joliet, Illinois. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1976.
He was a reporter for The Daily Times in Ottawa and The Beacon-News in Aurora. He won more than a dozen awards for investigative reporting at both newspapers, from the Associated Press, United Press International, Copley Press, Illinois Press Association, Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, Aurora Lions Club, SDX Society of Professional Journalists and other organizations.
Jim Ridings was presented a Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award from the Illinois Humanities Council in 2006.
Ridings has written and published 32 books of local Illinois history. Nine books have won awards from the Illinois State Historical Society:
Herscher's Lost Churches (2018)
The Society of the Living Dead: The Ottawa Radium Dial Scandal (2020)
The Illustrated History of the Cherry Mine Disaster of 1909 (2020)
The Illustrated History of the Ottawa Tent Colony (2021)
Western Kankakee County (2021)
County West: A Sesquicentennial History of Western Kankakee County in 2004
Cardiff: Ghost Town On the Prairie in 2007
Cardiff 2 in 2009
Greetings From Starved Rock in 2012.
His most popular books are Len Small: Governors And Gangsters (2009); Small Justice (2014); Cardiff: Ghost Town On the Prairie (2006); Wild Kankakee (2012); and Kankakee County Confidential (2016).
Jim and Janet Ridings live in Herscher, Illinois (Kankakee County), and have two beautiful daughters, Stephanie and Laura, along with three wonderful grandchildren.
Selected Published Works
*Small Justice: The Tragic Murder of Stephen Small and the Shameful Conviction of an Innocent Woman, 2014
* Len Small: Governors and Gangsters, 2009
*Wild Kankakee: Gangsters, Bootleggers, Bank Robbers, Murder and Offbeat Tales of Crime, Tragedy and Bizarre Stories You Won't See in Other Local History Books, 2012 SOLD OUT
* Chicago to Springfield: Crime and Politics in the 1920s, Arcadia Publishing, 2010
* Cardiff: Ghost Town on the Prairie, 2006
* Cardiff: A Further History of the Ghost Town on the Prairie, 2008
* County West: A Sesquicentennial History of Western Kankakee County, 2003 SOLD OUT
* County West Companion: A Further History of Western Kankakee County, 2005
* Greetings from Ottawa: A Picture Postcard: View of Old Ottawa, 2006 SOLD OUT
* Greetings from Kankakee: A Picture Postcard View of Old Kankakee, 2007 SOLD OUT
* Kankakee Makes Good: A Second Volume of Picture Postcards of Old Kankakee, 2007
* Greetings From Starved Rock, 2011 SOLD OUT
* Ottawa, Arcadia Publishing, 2011