It is that time of year again! The leaves are changing and the weather is dramatically fluctuating between warm and astonishingly cold as Fall tries to get its footing. The perfect time to curl up under a blanket and read something eerie. If you’re looking for a good non-fiction book to read in honor of Halloween then this is the list for you.
Here are a few of the books in our collection that are excellent for this season:
Continue reading “Halloween Reads at the Library”
In September of 1944 the front pages of the Daily Illini were covered with updates about the ongoing war. The newspaper readily chronicled major developments in the war as well as the deaths of young men who, just a few short years before, had once walked the university’s halls. Given the amount of bloodshed that was unfolding around the world, it is easy to miss the newspapers’ coverage of one particularly strange event, one that would come to be called the Mad Gasser of Mattoon.
Continue reading “The Mad Gasser of Mattoon”
In March of 1912 a lovelorn young woman wrote into the Rock Island Argus with a problem. At 20 years old she found that her boyfriend of 2 years was starting to hint that he was interested in marriage. Overcome with doubt, she wrote a letter to Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, the Rock Island Argus’ resident advice columnist. After explaining the situation, she ended her letter with one simple question: Am I too young? The answer she received was quick and straight to the point: “No”. This short and straight to the point style of answering questions seemed to be Mrs. Thompson’s specialty. Another woman in the same issue asked for advice on what to wear to an upcoming masquerade and was told curtly to dress as a French maid. Mrs. Thompson’s knowledge base was expansive and she seemed to be able to answer questions over a broad array of topics from skincare to food to fashion. She also dealt with much heavier topics, telling people, women in particular, how to survive and provide for their children when they had nowhere else to turn.
Continue reading “A Brief History of Advice Columns”
There is no secret that humans are drawn to the macabre. Shows revolving around murder, such as CSI and Criminal Minds, carry on for years and spur a number of spin-offs which are often met with success. In the meantime, podcasts like UP and Vanished and My Favorite Murder continue to top the iTunes podcast charts.
Continue reading “Morbidity, Macabre, Murder, and Memory: a look into our collections”
“The case of Lurancy Vennum, a bright young girl of fourteen years, has been the subject of much discussion in Watseka during the past year, and there is a good deal in it beyond human comprehension.” – “Mesmeric Mysteries,” Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), Jun. 22, 1878 
Ever since Regan MacNeil crawled backwards down the stairs in The Exorcist, possession has been a cornerstone of American horror movies. The very idea of losing control of ourselves to something otherworldly fills us with fear. The fear of possession, of course, has been around since long before the 1970s. Cases of possession have featured on the pages of newspapers across the country since the Salem witch trials in the 1690s. We don’t have to look far to find one such case.
Continue reading “The Watseka Wonder”
Housed at the southern end of campus, right next to Orchard Downs, is the university’s Student Life and Culture Archive. Dedicated to preserving the history of student life on campus, this archive holds a wide variety of artifacts. From old newspapers to interviews to clothing, they have something that is bound to be of interest to everyone. There is no assignment required to visit, just a curiosity for what you’ll find there.
Continue reading “University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Student Life and Culture Archives”