Mervis, Sybil. Collection on Central Illinois Jewish Communities, 1808 and 1834-2022 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
Champaign County--Champaign (Ill.)
Jackson County--Makanda (Ill.)
Logan County--Lincoln (Ill.)
Macon County--Decatur (Ill.)
McLean County--Bloomington (Ill.)
Sangamon County--Springfield (Ill.)
Vermilion County--Danville (Ill.)
Vermilion County--Hoopeston (Ill.)
The Sybil Mervis Collection on Central Illinois Jewish Communities contains materials accumulated by Sybil Mervis, a longtime Jewish resident of Danville, Illinois. This collection is comprised of Mervis's writings, research materials, and donation documents. These materials encompass the Jewish communities of Danville and Bloomington, as well as others across central Illinois and Indiana. The collection also includes Sybil Mervis’s research on Jewish life and culture more broadly.
Sybil Mervis (née Stern) was born to David and Gertrude Stern in 1935. She was raised in Bloomington, Illinois, and attended Moses Montefiore Temple, whose congregation practiced Reform Judaism. In high school, Sybil Mervis took part in the Illinois Federation of Jewish Youth (IFJY), a social organization for Jewish adolescents in central Illinois. She met her future husband, Louis Mervis, at an IFJY convention in 1949. In 1953, Sybil Mervis graduated from high school and moved to New York to attend Barnard College. In 1954, she transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she would earn her bachelor's degree in Journalism in 1957.
Sybil Mervis moved to Danville after she and Louis Mervis married in 1958. Together, they attended Congregation Anshe Knesset Israel, the Conservative synagogue that he grew up attending. Sybil Mervis soon became an active member of the Jewish community in Danville, participating in both synagogue- and community-based organizations and initiatives. She has assumed many roles throughout her Danville residency, serving as the president of Congregation Anshe Knesset Israel, the chairman of the Jewish Section of Springhill Cemetery, and a member of the Danville Chapter of Hadassah, among others.
Sybil Mervis recognized the value of preserving the experiences of central Illinois's Jewish communities, which led her to collect and research materials that reflected them. She also established a website including some of her findings on Danville's Jewish community, which can be found at: http://www.danvillejewishcommunity.com/index.html.
This collection contains materials Sybil Mervis used to support her research, as well as her own writings. It is organized into five series: 1. Writings; 2. Research Materials on Jewish Communities; 3. Research Materials on Jewish Life and Culture; 4. Notes, Correspondence, and Reference Materials; and 5. Donation Documents. Included are books, essays, and magazines, copies of legal documents, newspaper clippings, obituaries, correspondence, notes, reference materials, donation documents, photos, ephemera, and other materials.
These materials were donated by Sybil Mervis in 2021 and 2022.
View full finding aid and PDF box/folder list