New Collections in the IDHH

The IDHH has continued to grow with new collections and contributors added each quarterly harvest!

Want to learn about the history of instrumental music education? Explore three new collections from the VanderCook College of Music, which contain images, sheet music, documents, and narratives about the founders Hale A. VanderCook and Hubert E. Nutt and the students who have passed through the halls of VanderCook College:

Want to learn about the history of the Alton, Illinois, and its neighbor cities, villages, and townships? Explore the new collection from the Hayner Public Library District, which includes over 5,000 images from photographs and postcards, including images originally taken for the Alton Telegraph newspaper:

 

IDHH Welcomes New Contributor, Chicago Theological Seminary!

With our most recent harvest, the IDHH welcomes a new contributor, Chicago Theological Seminary! Established in 1855, Chicago Theological Seminary is a multi-faith seminary affiliated with the United Church of Christ and committed to “racial and social justice, to gender equality and LGBTQ rights, and to deep interreligious engagement.”¹ This new contributor shares with the IDHH two new collections: Triennial Conventions and Challenge and Response.

Triennial Conventions features the minutes and proceedings of the Triennial Conventions, a convention of the Ministers and Delegates of the Congregational Churches in the Midwest held every three years in association with the Chicago Theological Seminary. The collection contains the Triennial Conventions from 1858 through 1930.

Title page of the proceedings of the 1st Triennial Convention in October 1858
1st Triennial Convention, October 1858 [page 2]. 1858. Chicago Theological Seminary. Triennial Conventions. Courtesy of Chicago Theological Seminary.
Minutes page of the proceedings of the 1st Triennial Convention in October 1858
1st Triennial Convention, October 1858 [page 4]. 1858. Chicago Theological Seminary. Triennial Conventions. Courtesy of Chicago Theological Seminary.
Challenge and Response features the flagship magazine, Challenge & Response, published by the CTS Office of Advancement beginning in 2012. The magazine publishes news from the seminary faculty and staff, as well as students and alums.

Cover of Chicago Theological Seminary's Challenge & Response Fall 2012 magazine
Challenge & Response Fall 2012 [page 1]. 2012. Chicago Theological Seminary. Challenge and Response. Courtesy of Chicago Theological Seminary.
¹ From Chicago Theological Seminary’s Statement of Mission & Commitments.


Want to see more?

Visit the IDHH to view all items from Chicago Theological Seminary.

New IDHH Collections from Des Plaines Public Library

With our most recent harvest, the IDHH has added nine new collections! Today we’re highlighting two collections from the Des Plaines Public Library: City of Destiny and Greetings from Des Plaines.

City of Destiny features items that tell the story of Des Plaines’s governmental growth from a nineteenth-century village to a modern city. These items include governmental and public buildings, portraits of elected officials, newspaper clippings, events such as planting trees for Arbor Day, and even sheet music with fifty reasons that “You Will Like Des Plaines!”

Printed title page of the Revised Ordinances of the Village of Des Plaines that were passed on December 7, 1885.
Revised Ordinances of the Village of Des Plaines [page 2]. 1886. Des Plaines Public Library. City of Destiny. Courtesy of the Des Plaines Public Library.
Second page of sheet music for the song You Will Like Des Plaines that includes a list of 50 reason why people like Des Plaines.
You Will Like Des Plaines, Sheet Music [page 2]. 1924. Des Plaines Public Library. City of Destiny. Courtesy of the Des Plaines Public Library.
Greetings from Des Plaines is a collection of postcards, featuring buildings and scenic views in Des Plaines as well as Chicago. Though some postcards are unsent and blank, many are postmarked with stories of the people who sent and received them.

Postcard image of storefronts on historic Main Street in Des Plaines, Illinois.
Main Street W. from Pearson Street. c. 1900. Des Plaines Public Library. Greetings from Des Plaines. Courtesy of the Des Plaines Public Library.

Postcard image of the Des Plaines Public Library in 1916.
Des Plaines Public Library, 1916 [front]. March 31, 1916. Des Plaines Public Library. Greetings from Des Plaines. Courtesy of the Des Plaines Public Library.
Postmarked postcard with handwritten note.
Des Plaines Public Library, 1916 [back]. March 31, 1916. Des Plaines Public Library. Greetings from Des Plaines. Courtesy of the Des Plaines Public Library. The postcard sender hopes to see the recipient soon, to share some “pretty useful” crochet patterns.


Want to see more?

Visit the IDHH to view more postcards from the Greetings from Des Plaines collection, or to browse all items from Des Plaines Public Library.

New IDHH Collections on Enslavement Documents and Yearbooks

The IDHH contains some content that may be harmful or difficult to view. Our cultural heritage partners collect materials from history, as well as artifacts from many cultures and time periods, to preserve and make available the historical record. Please view the Digital Public Library of America’s (DPLA) Statement on Potentially Harmful Content for further information.


With our most recent harvest, the IDHH has added nine new collections! Today we’re highlighting two of them: North American Enslavement Documents from the Chicago History Museum and Yearbooks from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The Chicago History Museum’s North American Enslavement Documents collection contains late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century items related to enslavement in primarily the United States. These include bills of sale for enslaved people and letters between slave owners as well as deeds of emancipation and letters regarding the activities of antislavery groups and underground railways.

Interested in transcribing? The Chicago History Museum, in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith internship program, are working to transcribe materials relating primarily to chattel slavery in the United States. You can visit their transcription site to help transcribe these documents.

Deed of emancipation by William Garnett freeing his eight slaves due to his belief that slavery is wrong in principle and practice.
William Garnett deed of emancipation, 1845 October 17. October 17, 1845. Chicago Historical Society. North American Enslavement Documents. Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.

Letter from John M. Roberts to Zebina Eastman accounting the activities of the anti-slavery group, formation of the society, and underground railway established from St. Louis, circa 1842.
Underground Railway letter, circa 1842 [page 1]. c. 1842. Chicago Historical Society. North American Enslavement Documents. Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.
The Illinois Institute of Technology’s Yearbooks collection features yearbooks of the Armour Institute of Technology (AIT) published from 1898 until 1940, when AIT merged with the Lewis Institute to form the Illinois Institute of Technology. These yearbooks document the academic and social life of AIT and offers a view into the history of AIT and its founder as well as academic institutions during times of national hardship and war.

The Yearbooks collection complements the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Lewis Annual collection, which features the yearbooks of the Lewis Institute published between 1903 and 1940.

Page from the 1898 Armour Institute of Technology yearbook describing the history of the institute
Integral, 1898 [page 32]. 1898. Illinois Institute of Technology. Yearbooks. Courtesy of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Page from the 1918 Armour Institute of Technology yearbook describing the military drills students underwent during the First World War.
The Cycle, 1918 [page 117]. 1918. Illinois Institute of Technology. Yearbooks. Courtesy of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
A page from the Armour Institute of Technology 1909 yearbook with the librarian Mrs. Julia A Beveridge and students studying in the library at desks.
Integral, 1909 [page 29]. 1909. Illinois Institute of Technology. Yearbooks. Courtesy of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Small Town with a Big Story: Marshall Public Library

Near the Illinois border with Indiana lies the town of Marshall, the county seat of Clark County, Illinois. Boasting a history much bigger than its size might suggest, the IDHH is pleased to feature the Marshall Public Library Digital Archive as one of our newest additions to the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub. Marshall traces its founding to 1835, when Illinois politician and businessman William B. Archer officially organized what would be the beginnings of the city. Marshall took the surname of a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Marshall, as its namesake and would be incorporated as a city in 1873. Situated along the National Road, the first major improved highway built by the federal government in the early 1800s, Marshall saw thousands of settlers pass through on their travels to the West.

The city would play host to a variety of notable persons over its nearly 200-hundred-year history, with Abraham Lincoln being a frequent visitor of Marshall during his time as a lawyer. Marshall was also the temporary home of James Jones, best-selling author and winner of the 1952 National Book Award for his novel From Here to Eternity. Jones helped found the Handy Writers’ Colony in 1950 with Lowney Turner Handy and her husband, Harry Handy. A demanding teacher, Lowney Handy would have her students spend many hours copying, by hand or typewriter, materials from authors whose work she admired. The Colony would eventually dissolve after operating for 14 years, but not before seeing several of The Colony writers such as John Bowers and Charles Wright receive publications of their works.

Marshall continues to be a small city with big appeal, whether hosting its annual Fall Festival each autumn or offering a summer of live music by the Marshall City Band, the oldest, continuously operating band in Illinois. Here are a few of our favorite items from the Marshall Public Library Digital Archive:

Light plant 1915. 1915. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.
Christmas 1961, looking East down Archer Avenue. 1961. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.
Balloon at Courthouse. July 5, 1900. Photographed by Bert Hogue. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.
Marshall Public Library — 612 Archer Avenue. circa 1970. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.
Fireworks at Canton A. Dixon Buggies & Wagons Farm Machinery — 614 -616 Archer Avenue. circa 1902. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.
Mail carriers 1909. December 24, 1909. Photographed by Arthur Hurst. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.
Marshall CC Camp. circa 1934. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.
Harry Handy at the Handy Colony pond. circa 1950s. Marshall Public Library. Marshall Public Library Digital Archive. Courtesy of Marshall Public Library.

Want to see more? 

Visit the IDHH to browse even more items from the Marshall Public Library.

Welcome to the Madison County Historical Society

Along the Mississippi River, across from St. Louis, Missouri, lies Madison County, Illinois. Part of the Metro-East region comprising various counties on both sides of the Mississippi River, Madison County is home to a number of cities, villages, and townships that speak to the larger history of the state of Illinois and the land on which it stands. Established on September 14, 1812, the county was named for President James Madison and initially included the modern state of Illinois north of St. Louis as well as all of Wisconsin, part of Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Over time, this enormous jurisdiction would be reduced to its present size of 741 square miles. An industrial region since the late 1800s, the area was first populated by the largest and most influential urban settlement of the Native American Mississippian culture – Cahokia. Containing about 80 humanmade earthen mounds near Collinsville, the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is now a National Historic Landmark and one of the 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the United States.

In the last 250 years, Madison County’s advantageous position next to the Mississippi River has allowed it to bear witness to a variety of notable people and events in United States history. Camp Dubois, the winter camp and launch-point for the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803, lies within the county, as did the original City Hall in Alton, which hosted the last of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates on October 15, 1858. The Madison County Historical Society seeks to preserve the wonderful history of the county through their mission of “Opening Doors to Madison County History.” The digital collections shared with the IDHH certainly fulfill this mission, as they provide insight into the lives of 19th-century women through a series of private letters (Private and Real), the experiences of an American nurse serving in France during World War I (In Her Own Words), and the ways in which Madison County has changed over the years (Picturing the History of Madison County).

Join us in offering a warm welcome to the Madison County Historical Society, and enjoy a few of our favorite items from their collections below:

Alton City Hall. n.d. Madison County Historical Society. Picturing the History of Madison County – Selected Snapshots. Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society (IL).
Madison County’s Tallest Man. 1940. Madison County Historical Society. Picturing the History of Madison County – Selected Snapshots. Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society (IL).
Catsup Bottle. July 17, 1995. Madison County Historical Society. Picturing the History of Madison County – Selected Snapshots. Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society (IL).
Mrs. Mary Lusk. September 14, 1912. Madison County Historical Society. Picturing the History of Madison County – Selected Snapshots. Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society (IL).
Madison County Centennial Arch. 1912. Published by the Edwardsville Intelligencer. Madison County Historical Society. Picturing the History of Madison County – Selected Snapshots. Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society (IL).

Horse Thief Detective Society. 1873. Madison County Historical Society. Picturing the History of Madison County – Selected Snapshots. Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society (IL).
Excursion Steamer. n.d. Madison County Historical Society. Picturing the History of Madison County – Selected Snapshots. Courtesy of Madison County Historical Society (IL).

Want to see more? 

Visit the IDHH to view even more items from the Madison County Historical Society.

Start Near, Go Far: the Prairie State College Archive Collection

With summer just around the corner, the IDHH is pleased to feature the Archive Collection from one of our newest contributors, Prairie State College. A two-year community college founded in 1957 as Bloom Township Junior College, the college offered its first classes in 1958 in the basement of the First Christian Church in Chicago Heights. From these humble beginnings, Prairie State College has emerged as a vital part of the Chicago Heights community, now spanning 130 acres and serving over 20 different communities in the diverse area once known as “the Crossroads of the Nation”. The first community college in Illinois to guarantee that all credits would transfer to other colleges and universities in the state, Prairie State College now offers degrees and certificates in more than 100 fields of study, from liberal arts subject areas to technical and career disciplines. 

The extensive Archive Collection at Prairie State College provides a look at the rich history of the community college, from its earliest days as Bloom Township Junior College and into the 21st century. Of particular note are items in the collection that focus on the various technical and career programs available at the college. Images of students working under car hoods, on dental patients’ mouths, and with nursing equipment reflect the practical experiences of students in the Automotive Technology, Dental Hygiene, and Nursing programs respectively. In addition to these photographs, the Archive Collection contains items featuring the expansion of the campus and construction of campus buildings, the day-to-day events and happenings of the college, and the achievements and recognition of Prairie State College students. 

The IDHH warmly welcomes Prairie State College, and we hope you enjoy perusing their collection as much as we do! Here are a few of our favorite items:

Prairie State College Welding Students Working at the Welding Shop 1981. 1981. Prairie State College. Archive Collection. Courtesy of Prairie State College.
Prairie State College EMT students are performing CPR in class, ca. 1987. 1987. Prairie State College. Archive Collection. Courtesy of Prairie State College.
Prairie State College Student Working in autoshop 80’s. 1984. Prairie State College. Archive Collection. Courtesy of Prairie State College.

Prairie State College Dental Hygiene student is working on a patient. 2004. Prairie State College. Archive Collection. Courtesy of Prairie State College.
Prairie State College Mechanical technology and manufacturing program, ca. 1987. 1987. Prairie State College. Archive Collection. Courtesy of Prairie State College.
PSC Main Campus Fall 1998. September 1, 1998. Prairie State College. Archive Collection. Courtesy of Prairie State College.

Want to see more? 

Visit the IDHH to view even more items from Prairie State College.

Continued Growth: the IDHH Passes Half a Million Items!

With our latest harvest, the IDHH now has 510,614 items from 548 collections. Thanks to our 150 Illinois partners and contributing institutions for making this possible!

Some of our newest collections and contributors include:

Keep checking back here at Illinois Highlights as we promote new collections, highlight older ones, and feature materials relevant to Illinois and national history.

Don’t forget to check out the IDHH Exhibits site as well!

Want to see more in the IDHH?

Browse the collections by select topics and people

Search all items or Browse by select facets

Browse by Contributing Partner

Welcome to Dixon, the Petunia Capitol of Illinois

Nestled along the picturesque Rock River in northwestern Illinois, the city of Dixon bears a fascinating history in the early nineteenth century as a fledgling outpost in the newly incorporated state of Illinois. Established in 1828 by Joseph Ogee, who operated a ferry along the banks of the Rock River, the city would take its name from a “Father” John Dixon after coming to the area in 1830 and purchasing the ferry operation from Ogee. With its advantageous position on the Rock River for trade and commerce, the settlement prospered from the abundance of the significant waterway and quickly grew into a thriving community. 

Fifty years later, the thriving city of Dixon saw the creation of Dixon College, a private college that operated with a teacher-training institution, the Northern Illinois Normal School. Dixon College advertised itself as an institution that taught “practically everything” and offered courses in such subjects as civil and electrical engineering, typewriting, and law. Though Dixon College closed around 1914 after only 35 years, the city of Dixon has a number of attractions that keep visitors coming to the area year after year. Designated the “Petunia Capital of Illinois” by the Illinois General Assembly in 1999, the city holds an annual Petunia Festival every summer featuring a parade, carnival, and fireworks show. In preparation for the festival, volunteers and citizens plant thousands of pink petunias along main streets, such as Galena Avenue with its iconic Dixon Arch. 

The IDHH is pleased to welcome the Dixon Public Library to the IDHH and feature their collections with this Highlights post. Here are a few of our favorite items:

Beautiful Galena Avenue Dixon, (the petunia city), Illinois. 1960. Photograph by Ralph-Lois Pierce Studio. Dixon Public Library. Dixon History Documents and Photographs. Courtesy of the Dixon Public Library.
Petunia lined Galena Avenue. 1980. Photograph by Ralph-Lois Pierce Studio. Dixon Public Library. Dixon History Documents and Photographs. Courtesy of the Dixon Public Library.
Dixon Theatre. 1922. Photograph by Brooks Photo. Dixon Public Library. Dixon History Documents and Photographs. Courtesy of the Dixon Public Library.
Dixon College Main Building sepia photograph. n.d. Dixon Public Library. Dixon College. Courtesy of the Dixon Public Library.
Eighth Annual Commencement of the Scientific Class 1889. 1889. Dixon Public Library. Dixon College. Courtesy of the Dixon Public Library.
Dixon College Staff. 1881. Dixon Public Library. Dixon College. Courtesy of the Dixon Public Library.

Illinois Central crossing Rock River, Dixon, Ill. 1907. Photograph by E.C. Kropp. Dixon Public Library. Dixon History Documents and Photographs. Courtesy of the Dixon Public Library.

Want to see more? 

Visit the IDHH to explore even more items from the Dixon Public Library.

The Electric Way: Streetcars, Trolleys, and Trams

Imagine the wonder of one day being able to ride a new-fangled machine powered entirely by electricity that could whisk passengers between cities at a brisk speed of up to 20 miles per hour. Such was the excitement and delight with the invention of the streetcar in the mid-1880s by American engineer Frank Julian Sprague (1857–1934). Before the arrival of streetcars, also known as trolleys or trams, the fastest mode of interurban transportation was the horse-drawn tram, a much slower way to travel within or between nearby cities. The convenience that the streetcar provided facilitated a boom in urban populations as citizens could move to suburban areas and become the first commuters. 

The area of East St. Louis in Illinois experienced a surge in population growth and urban expansion in the late 1800s as the East St. Louis & Suburban Railway extended its reach in the St. Clair and Madison counties of the state. Stretching from the town of East St. Louis in Illinois to St. Louis in Missouri and beyond, the Great East Side Railway moved passengers and freight between the two states, becoming a transportation hub and spurring industrial development in the area. The IDHH is pleased to welcome the St. Clair County Historical Society to the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub and to feature their Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection, which contains images of the streetcars and transportation infrastructure of the East St. Louis & Suburban Railway and the St. Louis & Belleville Electric Railway. Passed down through generations from a longtime employee of the Union Electric Company, which provided the power for the electric railways in the area, these photographs offer a glimpse at the historic influence of this novel mode of transportation. 

Here are a few of our favorite items from the collection:

East St Louis RR, Car #24. November 4, 1929. St. Clair County Historical Society. Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the St. Clair County Historical Society.
Track scene, IL Central Car Derailment. [n.d.] St. Clair County Historical Society. Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the St. Clair County Historical Society.
Trolley Car 25. [n.d.] St. Clair County Historical Society. Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the St. Clair County Historical Society.
Suburban Railway. January 11, 1932. St. Clair County Historical Society. Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the St. Clair County Historical Society.
Miner’s Extra Train. [n.d.] St. Clair County Historical Society. Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the St. Clair County Historical Society.
Inside of Trolley with car operator. [n.d.] St. Clair County Historical Society. Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the St. Clair County Historical Society.
Eads Bridge Trolley Station. [n.d.] St. Clair County Historical Society. Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection. Courtesy of the St. Clair County Historical Society.

Want to see more? 

Browse the full Metro East Streetcar Photographic Collection from the St. Clair County Historical Society. 

Visit the IDHH to explore even more items related to streetcars.