Archives Acquires Ebert Materials

Ebert Files

An important part of the legacy of the noted film critic, Urbana native, and U of I alumnus Roger Ebert has come home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, thanks to a recent donation from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Archives has acquired the motion picture press kit files used by Ebert when he served as film critic for the newspaper. The files include 35mm slides and black and white glossy photographs, press release information promoting films from the 1980s through the early 2000s, as well as tear sheets of reviews by the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic.

Nine file drawers of color slides and approximately 57 file drawers of press kits for more than 5,200 films spanning a substantial portion of Ebert’s time as the Sun-Times film critic now reside at Illinois awaiting arrangement and description to make them accessible to students, scholars, and the public. The University Archives and the Communications Library at Illinois have already starting working together to create a complete index of all of the thousands of reviews Ebert wrote.

“This is an important story for the university to have,” said University Archivist William Maher. “What Roger learned here, how he honed his craft, got critical experience and gained confidence–all  of that carried him forward. It propelled him. The university gave him that platform, at the same time that he changed the university himself.”

Other universities had approached the Sun-Times for the materials, however Chaz Ebert, Ebert’s widow and publisher of, wanted to see the materials go to the University of Illinois, Ebert’s alma mater.

“Chaz’s efforts to connect us with the Sun-Times have been an invaluable step forward to bring the Roger Ebert archival legacy home,” noted Maher.

There is little doubt that Ebert would be pleased with the decision. In Life Itself , Ebert’s 2011 memoir, he said, “I loved the University. It took me from childhood to my life.”

It was this influence and spirit that inspired an online exhibit all about Roger Ebert and his time at Illinois which made its debut at the 2017 Roger Ebert Film Festival this past April. The exhibit, created by the University Archives and containing examples of Ebert’s early writings as a student as well as his original correspondence with his faculty mentor, Dan Curley, is viewable at

Ultimately, the Sun-Times materials will reside within close proximity to the Roger Ebert Center being established within the College of Media at Illinois. The Ebert Center will offer undergraduate scholarships and mentoring, along with other programs to “inspire critical thinking and illuminate the human condition,” to those interested in filmmaking and film criticism.

“The College of Media is proud to have played a role in acquiring these materials for the University of Illinois,” said Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, interim dean of the College of Media. “Roger loved this place; he established his film festival and the Ebert Center here, visited often and introduced us to Chaz, who has become a valued member of our media family. Roger’s enduring legacy is safe in her hands and with the University of Illinois Archives.”

For more information about the Ebert Center, visit .

Do you have a story you’d like added to the Library News & Events? If so, please contact Heather Murphy ( ).

Honoring Major Kenneth D. Bailey

Medal of Honor and Bailey

The University Library will host a special ceremony honoring Major Kenneth D. Bailey (1910-1942), the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who was a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

The “Honoring Major Kenneth Bailey: Medal of Honor Recipient” ceremony will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017, in the Marshall Gallery of the Main Library on the Illinois campus. The ceremony’s keynote speaker is Captain Anthony Corapi, Commanding Officer of the University of Illinois NROTC.

“It is very humbling to me to be able to recognize a true American hero,” said Captain Corapi.

Major Bailey was a native of Danville, Illinois, a graduate of the University of Illinois (class of 1935), and a major in the U.S. Marine Corps. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society citation for Major Bailey reads, in part: “For extraordinary courage and heroic conduct above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company C, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, during the enemy Japanese attack on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 12-13 September 1942.”

The October 27 ceremony complements a month-long exhibit in the Main Library’s Marshall Gallery which includes Major Bailey’s Medal of Honor on loan from the Vermilion County War Museum.

Exhibit and ceremony sponsors include the Vermilion County War Museum , the University of Illinois Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) , the Student Life and Culture Archives , the University Archives , and the University Library .

For more information about the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and to read the full citation for Major Bailey, please visit .

Do you have a story you’d like added to the Library News & Events? If so, please contact Heather Murphy ( ).