December marks the beginning of the meteorological Winter; however, in Illinois, the cold weather and snow that are part and parcel with the Winter months often get underway as early as October. Now, the winter is just properly starting, with December being the first of the three coldest and usually snowiest months of the year.
As cold as temperatures can be during recent seasons, historical records, including data and photographs, demonstrate that winters in Illinois and across the country were colder and often snowier in the not-so-distant past. The Quincy Public Library’s Quincy Area Historic Photo Collection includes many photos that help provide historical records of winters past as well as capture the sublime beauty of some of Illinois’ harshest weather.
Far beyond its impressive set of winter and weather-related images, the Quincy Area Historic Photo Collection shows the history of a remarkable town, with records dating back to the 1830s, just a decade after the town’s founding. Quincy is a significant location in the history of the Mormon faith as well as being the site of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Elgin Community College’s new collection celebrates the life and legacy of Gil Renner, the institution’s first president and an important figure in the growth of community colleges across the state, helping to lead the development of the Illinois system of community colleges. This collection of correspondence, articles, pamphlets, administrative documents, and other materials authored or co-authored by Gil Renner was donated by his son, Richard. See all of the Gil Renner Collection items in the DPLA here.
Editors Note 06/2021: broken Museum Collection and Prints and Photographs Collection links removed.
Election Day brings to mind the history of democracy in the state of Illinois. One of the richest sources of this legacy is the Chicago History Museum. Marking the week of Election Day, the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub features material from two of the Museum’s digital collections that are also available in the DPLA, the Museum Collection and the Prints and Photographs Collection.
The Chicago History Museum’s collections include some of the earliest campaign material in the state, including posters for Abraham Lincoln’s and Ulysses S. Grant’s election bids. The Museum exhibits technologies essential for the electoral process, such as a ballot box used to gather votes sometime between 1890 and 1932. Other materials chronicle the campaigns of more recent elected officials, such as former mayor, Harold Washington.
The Illinois Digital Heritage Hub celebrates Halloween and the month of October with paintings from the International Collection of Child Art (ICCA) provided by one of our newest partners, Illinois State University. The ICCA features two-dimensional art in many different media created by children around the world. More information on the ICCA can be found here.
The images featured from this collection are from the 1960s but are so relatable that they could be contemporary and feature costumed kids trick-or-treating, a haunted house complete with ghosts, skeletons, and a graveyard, pumpkins, bats, and black cats, a costume party, and a witch on her broomstick.
As historical artifacts, the paintings demonstrate how old and enduring some of Halloween’s most iconic images and traditions are with perhaps only the hair and clothing styles of some of the children in the paintings hinting at the works’ ages. The artists range from ages 9 and 12 and would be in their 50s and 60s today.
The entire International Collection of Child Art can be found in the IDHH here. All of the Halloween-themed items contributed by Illinois Digital Heritage Hub institutions may be found here.
The Illinois Digital Heritage Hub welcomes our latest data provider, Northern Illinois University (NIU) and its fabulous collection of dime novels. NIU’s rich contribution comprises more than 4,600 digitized dime novels from about 1860 to 1930, many of which have not been widely available since their initial publication more than a hundred years ago.
Books in the collection are some of the earliest examples of familiar genres, like westerns, science fiction, romance novels, and mysteries. These would have been read by everyone from factory workers to children, providing unique insights into what a diverse group of Americans were thinking and feeling in the 19th century. This also means, however, that items in the collection sometimes have a darker side, using language or imagery that today would be considered sexist, racist, or otherwise problematic.
The collection is a valuable resource for studying the history of print culture, the origins of genre fiction, and 19th century attitudes about race, gender, and class, and is now widely available to researchers, educators, and students through the DPLA.
The items highlighted here represent some of the most striking cover illustrations of the fully digitized works that can be seen in their complete full-text glory in the NIU’s digital library.
Editors Note 03/2021: Postcards-Illinois is no longer a collection in IDHH. This Spring, the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub celebrated the addition of forty collections from the Illinois Digital Archives to the DPLA. These collections include Postcards-Illinois from the Newberry Library. The collection includes nearly five thousand postcards, many of which feature Illinois’ beautiful State Parks, rivers, and shorelines, and other Summertime destinations, past and present. Postcards-Illinois is just a small subset of the Curt Teich Postcard Archives which comprises around 2.5 million items, probably the largest collection of postcards and related material in the United States. Originally donated by the Lake County Forest Preserve District, a large part of the Newberry’s collection is now searchable through the Digital Public Library of America’s interface which will provide even greater access to and awareness of the material than ever before. The items highlighted here seem particularly relevant for the month of August, including outdoor destinations from around Illinois and serve as encouragement to experience the places that inspired such beautiful imagery.
You can access all of the above images and all other Newberry items in the IDHH.
Editors Note 03/2021: Voices of Extremism is no longer a collection in IDHH.
Illinois State University (ISU) is our newest contributor, with 13 exciting collections including Voices of Extremism, circus films, and the letters of Buffalo Bill. ISU is now the second largest contributor to the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub, contributing the metadata for nearly 20,000 objects.
One of these collections is the Passion for Circus collection of circus images, a collection of over 9400 photographs of the circus taken between the 1930s and the 1950s. The images come from the special collection of Sverre “Bex” and Faye Braathen, which came to the Milner Library in the mid-1970s after the Braathens passed away.
The Passion for Circus collection includes gorgeous color photographs of all things circus that Sverre shot on an Eastman Kodak Ektra F 1.9 camera using Kodachrome film. The photographs show the exciting and vibrant world of circus life and the spectators that flocked to these events. The images show the flashy costumes worn by the performers, the circus wagons used to transport the travelers and their animals around the country, and daring acts of acrobatics and contortionism.
Here is a sneak peak of some of the images from the collection.
For more on this collection, visit the Illinois State University Milner Library digital collections on their home site.
This month the IDHH welcomes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) into the hub. UIUC is no stranger to DPLA, and has been a contributing content hub to DPLA since 2013, so we are pleased to welcome a DPLA veteran aboard. UIUC comes to the IDHH with 19 collections ranging in subject from historical maps of Africa to theater and costume design, Irish political cartoons, and much more.
As part of the many collections that the University of Illinois is making available, the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music’s Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection boasts 231 images of historical instruments (1810-1972) and includes both the familiar and the unfamiliar. The instruments chronicle the evolution of many of the instruments that we recognize today, as well as many instruments that are a product of their time and did not continue to be produced.
Check out this sneak peek of some of the instruments in this collection.
To see more of the images in the collection, please click here.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has many other collections as part of the IDHH here.
This month we welcomed DePaul University into the IDHH. DePaul University has shared the Deborah Bright Photographs collection, which includes 96 black and white photographs taken by the photographer, Deborah Bright, in 1985.
The images in the collection capture an eerily quiet side of Chicago in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, sparsely populated by people. Bright took these photographs as part of the Lincoln Park Study Group, which was a project directed by Dr. Charles Suchar, and involved many DePaul faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As part of this, a group was formed to conduct a historical and cultural study of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, where DePaul is located. Bright’s photographs document the neighborhood as it was at the time, in a process of gentrification.
The collection was donated to DePaul by Bright in 2015 as thirty-seven strips of negatives, with ninety-six exposures, and thirteen 8″x10″ contact sheets containing ninety-eight photos in total.
Here is a sneak peek from the collection.
Permission to display here is granted by DePaul University Special Collections and Archives.