Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day to remember the U.S. military personnel who have died in the line of duty and also a time to reflect on the soldiers and civilians whose lives were forever changed by U.S.-involved conflicts around the world. With a mind toward examining U.S. military history while wishing for world peace and a peaceful memorial day for veterans, military personnel, and people everywhere, the IDHH highlights collections from across Illinois that evince this history, remember veterans, and memorialize soldiers and civilians touched by war.
The state and its residents have a long history of involvement in most of the U.S.’s major conflicts, from the Civil War to present day. The IDHH’s numerous military history collections are particularly focused on the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, including the materials highlighted here. While there are dozens of institutions contributing invaluable content, the focus is on museums, following up last week’s post on International Museum Day:  Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum and the Midway Village and Museum Center and the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County.
Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum’s collection includes photographic portraits of more than 70 Civil War veterans from the Rockford Area. The collection was previously curated and digitized by the Midway Village and Museum Center. The men in the photographs below represent just three of a small but nonetheless indispensable number of the more than 8,000 Illinoisans who served in the Civil War. Photographs were taken years to decades after the conflict, archived in 1968, and digitized only within the last few years, indicating a long remembrance of the Civil War and its impact on Illinois and its people.

The Bess Bower Dunn Museum features photographs, artifacts, and postcards pertaining to life at what was once a major U.S. Army post in the Fort Sheridan collection. The collection includes photographs of men and women posted at Fort Sheridan from the Spanish American War through the Vietnam War era. In addition to providing a record of everything from the most mundane to the most unusual aspects of life at Fort Sheridan, the collection is especially focused on the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) of Fort Sheridan from its beginnings during World War II until the integration of men and women units in the late 1970s

There are many other collections in the IDHH that commemorate veterans and evince the state’s military history, including the Pritzker Military Museum and Library’s  Music of the First World War. There are also several collections provided by the Illinois State Library, including the Veterans History Project and the World War II Posters collections, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s Boys in Blue collection of photographs Civil War soldiers. There are several collections documenting the service of residents of particular towns and regions in Illinois, such as the Coal City Public Library District’s World War II – From Homefront to Warfront collection, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and Arlington Heights Historical Society’s Military History Collection, the Mel Tierney Post Servicemen File collection from the Park Ridge Public Library, digitized issues of the Melrose Park local newspaper, The Herald, from World War II provided by the Melrose Park Public Library, and Illinois State University Archive’s A University Goes to War, documenting women from the university’s involvement in World War I. For a complete list of collections provided by Illinois Digital Archive (IDA) contributing institutions, most of which are also in the DPLA, see IDA’s Military History page.

Spotlight on Illinois Museums

May 18 is International Museum Day and to celebrate, the IDHH highlights collections from museums across the state of Illinois. Currently, nine museums contribute their materials to the IDHH. Today’s post will take a look at two of these institutions which we have not recently highlighted, the Elgin History Museum and the Illinois State Museum. Several other museums will likely be featured in a forthcoming Memorial Day post.
The Elgin History Museum opened in the mid-1980s, though its founders, the Elgin Historical Society, had been collaborating to remember and preserve Elgin area history since 1961. The museum houses a number of exhibitions, featuring artifacts pertaining to the Elgin Road Race, the Elgin National Watch Company, and the manufacturing industry’s role in the the city. The museum also houses the Gylleck Photo Collection, documenting more than a hundred years of history from 1847-1960, featuring cityscapes, views of buildings, and many facets of life in Elgin, such as sports, industry, schools, and homes.

The Illinois State Museum is one of the oldest institutions in the state, bringing together collections and providing exhibitions of artifacts from across Illinois. Items from the Story of the Illinois State Museum collection are featured below, including photographs of founders and and museum staff who helped shape the institution in its early days, to some of its most notable exhibits, to views of the museum’s exterior and interior throughout the years. The Illinois State Museum also publishes a quarterly, The Living Museum, some issues of which are are available in the DPLA.

Check out the collections of some of the other museums that contribute to the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub, including the Henderson County Historical Society Museum of Raritan, Illinois, the the Illinois State Fair Museum, and, of course, the Chicago History Museum, whose collections we have featured in several recent posts.

International Workers’ Day: Honoring Labor

May 1 marks International Workers’ Day and the first week of May a significant time period in the history of labor and labor organization. May 4 is the 133rd anniversary of the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, an event in city and state history that resounded around the world and it, along with the events leading up to the Affair, are widely cited as the inspiration for International Workers’ Day. The IDHH highlights items from the Chicago History Museum relevant to the Haymarket Affair, workers’ rights, and labor organization across the state of Illinois.
The Chicago History Museum’s Prints and Photographs Collection includes prints and photographs that picture Haymarket Square, the location of a workers’ rally held as part of efforts to instate the eight-hour work day as a national standard and in response to the killing of several protestors on the previous day by police. The rally was initially peaceful but ended in the explosion of a homemade bomb, seen rendered in the print below by the artist, Paul J. Morand, that killed seven police officers. Police veterans of the Haymarket Affair were honored by their department and by local and municipal leaders, as evinced by the banner in an 1895 parade. Organizers, including those killed by police in the aftermath of the bomb and those wrongly accused in the fury of investigations and trials following the bombing were commemorated mainly by labor organizations.

Check out more items that relate to the Haymarket Affair, and workers’ rights and labor in Illinois. There are also many collections with items pertaining to labor, such as the Pullman State Historic Site’s Southeast Chicago Historical Society collection. To learn more about the Haymarket Affair, check out this article from the Encyclopedia of Chicago. For a timeline of events, search strategies, and a sampling of newspaper articles contemporaneous to the Haymarket Affair, see the Library of Congress webpage on the event.