IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT: Haunting book plates from West Chicago Public Library District

Happy Halloween from the IDHH. Tonight we’re staying in and looking back through our most chilling collections from our contributors. If you’re feeling the boundary between this and other worlds thinning tonight, and looking for a little more, we recommend starting with Cornelia Neltor Anthony and Frank D. Anthony Book Plate Collection at West Chicago Public Library District.

The Cornelia Neltor Anthony and Frank D. Anthony Book Plate Collection includes over 6000 individual book plates collected over 12 years by Cornelia Neltor Anthony before she donated her collection in 1935. At one point considered the second largest collection, just behind the Library of Congress’, the book plates show the more eerie side of individual book collecting.  Used to claim ownership of a book, to both deter book thieves and provide instructions for those who come across lost books. Here among the ex-libris are depictions of reading and what books contain, including dark and stormy nights:

Prescott Final
It was a dark and stormy night. Waves and lightning were shaking the castle. From the library of Winward and Hazel Prescott. Designed by Charles William Sherborn. 1911.West Chicago Public Library District. Cornelia Neltnor Anthony and Frank D. Anthony Book Plate Collection. Permission to display given by West Chicago Public Library District.

 Reading by candlelight:

Greeley Final
Reading through the night, the pages lit by candlesticks. From the library of Phoebe C. Greeley’s collection, designed by Julia Collins Stohr. 1926. West Chicago Public Library District. Cornelia Neltnor Anthony and Frank D. Anthony Book Plate Collection. Permission to display given by West Chicago Public Library District.

or other scenes with archaic and occult moods:

Banks Final
When the storm cleared a full moon rose behind the tower. Book plate from Helen Banks, designed by Charles Searle McDonald, 1922. West Chicago Public Library District. Cornelia Neltnor Anthony and Frank D. Anthony Book Plate Collection. Permission to display given by West Chicago Public Library District.

Including fantastic and macabre images of reading:

Book plates pull together the arcane and the scientific, blending what appeals to contemporary readers, including mysticism. These images provide commentary on the purpose of the book, and attitudes people have with reading, including their desires and daydreams. Not all books are spell books, but some spells are to protect them.

henry-parsell
A Sator Square embedded in religious and mystic signs and tools. From the library of Henry Van Arsdale, designed by Jay Chambers, 1921. West Chicago Public Library District. Cornelia Neltnor Anthony and Frank D. Anthony Book Plate Collection. Permission to display given by West Chicago Public Library District.

These book plates also include a healthy dose of melancholy and death. Pulling from mythic and christian symbolism, and literature itself.  The owl symbolizing knowledge, wisdom, magic and skepticism, and the skull as memento mori- the reminder of both death and memory, heighten the fear factor.

 For more meditations on fear, reading, and the arcane, including black cats, bats, magic, star-crossed lovers, and hauntings of the skull and owl variety check out the rest of the collection from West Chicago Public Library District on the IDHH Happy Halloween. 

 

Baseball at the IDHH

Tonight is Game Three of the World Series. To celebrate we’re highlighting a few pictures of baseball in Illinois.

There is a rich debate about the origins of baseball, both in terms of its evolution- and place, but we know that by the mid-19th century, baseball was already ingrained into American life and community. Both Union and Confederate soldiers documented baseball games in their diaries, including games played as prisoners of war. After the war communities formed clubs of their own, making baseball one of the first instances of communities establishing their own identities.  

In Illinois, as early as 1869 the Cairo Bulletin was reporting on games in bordering Missouri. By 1870, the Cairo Deltas and Egyptians were playing in Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois as clubs and regional leagues began to form across the state.

Below are some of the greatest hits from Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County, Cherry Valley Historical Society, Chicago History Museum, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showing how the game was played in our communities from the 1880’s onward, and became an international phenomenon in the early 20th century.

The Dunn Museum’s Fort Sheridan Collection includes several images of baseball as a part of life on the Fort.

Woman_Playing_Baseball
Woman Playing shortstop, C.1945. Unknown Photographer. Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County (IL). Fort Sheridan collection. Permission to display was provided by the Bess Bower Dunn Museum.

 

Men_Shaking_Hands_Fort_Sheridan
Man in Army Uniform Shaking Hands, Exchanging Baseball Bat, C. 1920. Unknown Photographer. Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County (IL). Fort Sheridan. Permission to display was provided by the Bess Bower Dunn Museum.

The Cherry Valley Historical Society Cherry Valley Local History Collection includes team portraits of Cherry Valley Wildcats, and little leaguers from the first half of the century, showing what community sports looked like and how communities supported teams during baseball’s most nostalgic moment.

Baseball_team
Cherry Valley Baseball Team, C. 1916. Unknown Photographer. Cherry Valley Historical Society. Cherry Valley Local History Collection. Permission to display was provided by the Cherry Valley Public Library District.

Cherry Valley Baseball Team, C. 1916. Unknown Photographer. Cherry Valley Historical Society. Cherry Valley Local History Collection.

Meanwhile, the Chicago History Museum’s Museum Collection and Prints and Photographs Collection includes artifacts and photographs from Chicago’s MLB teams, the Cubs and the White Sox:

Chicago_Cubs_baseball_player_Ron_Santo_catching_a_foul_ball_at_Wrigley_Field
Chicago Cub Ron Santo catching a foul ball at Wrigley Field, 1969. Jack Lenahan, photographer, Chicago Daily News Inc. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Permission to display was provided by the Chicago History Museum.
Exterior_view_of_Wrigley_Field
Wrigley Field from Sheffield and Waveland avenues, 1964. F.S. Dauwalter, Photographer. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Permission to display was provided by the Chicago History Museum.


And lastly, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Picture Chicago Collection includes this great picture of the Chicago White Sox and New York Giant’s in front of The Great Sphinx during their 1913-1914 world tour:

Whitesox
Chicago White Sox and New York Giants in front of the Sphinx during their World Tour 1913-1914, 1914. Unknown Photographer. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Picture Chicago.

For more fall ball, or if you’re still daydreaming of summer, check out our contributor’s collections on the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub Website .

Eureka Pumpkin Festival

This month at the IDHH we’re looking back at how agriculture and industry shaped civic life in small-town Illinois. We’re looking especially at how agriculture and industry created senses of local identity that could be celebrated. It’s now fall, and Illinois’ legacy of harvest festivals, and celebrating the busy growing season as a community is close to our heart. Looking back through our contributor’s collections we found “Pumpkins, Parades, and Pies– Eureka’s Pumpkin Festival Past 1939-1961” from our partner the Eureka Public Library District.

Souvenir booklet for the 1951 Eureka Pumpkin Festival. Permission To display provided by Eureka Public Library District.

Between 1939 and 1961 the third weekend of September saw the Eureka Pumpkin Festival in Eureka IL. It was first organized by the Eureka Community Association to bolster the local economy after the Great Depression. Its first year, the festival brought 10,000 visitors over the course of the weekend to the small town of 1,700 people. The Eureka Public Library District has gathered over 300 photographs, scans of pamphlets, recipe books, and souvenir ephemera that document the festival. Eureka’s connection with pumpkins began 35 years earlier when Dickinson and Company first canned pumpkin, relying heavily on local farms with their success. Dickinson and Company was bought by Chicago-based Libby, McNeil, and Libby Company in 1929, and with it the recipe for “pumpkin custard”. With Libby’s nationwide distribution network, canned pumpkin became an autumn staple in homes across the country.

Above: Libby’s “custard pumpkin pie” label used in conjunction with Eureka Pumpkin festival c.1946. A Libby’s Pumpkin Can Signed by actor Ronald Reagan c. 1947. Eureka College Ronald Reagan Museum. Permission to display images provided by the Eureka Public Library District.

 

The festival continued annually for the first three years, but was interrupted and discontinued with the United States’ involvement in World War II after the 1941 festival. Global politics and community life was reflected in the parade’s floats, where both themes of peace, agricultural heritage and social clubs, and anticipating the United States’ entrance in WWII, canning’s contribution to war preparedness.

 

“The Pumpkin Center of the World”. 1946 Pumpkin Festival grand prize winning float built by Robert Faubel and Robert Schertz. Featuring pumpkin made of flowers and a float lined with cornstalks. Faubels’ son stands on top.
Permission to display was provided by the Eureka Public Library District.

After WWII, the festivals ballooned to 50,00 people attending. In 1947, then-film star and Eureka College alumnus Ronald Reagan and Governor Dwight H. Green were invited to Eureka to crown Joan Snyder the Pumpkin Queen. The Pumpkin Queen and her attendants were a large part of the parade, in so many ways the face of the other hundreds of coordinators and volunteers who made the festival possible.  Photographs of the Queen and her attendants in the collection show an interesting and idiosyncratic spin on mid-century pageants.  The promotional material generated for the souvenir booklet (of which all the post-World War II festival’s have been fully scanned as part of the collection) show the Queen and her attendants in a local pumpkin field in full pageant-wear.

 In 1959, the centennial celebration included a beard-growing and period-wear contest in addition to the traditional pageant. 

a_few_of_the_men_who_grew_beards_for_the_eureka_pumpkin_festival__eureka_centennial_event_1959
Men in their centenary beards, 1959.Permission to display was provided by the Eureka Public Library District.

The last Eureka Pumpkin Festival was held in September 1961. The November prior, Libby’s closed the Eureka canning factory and moved its operations to the Morton plant.  For more on the pumpkin and mid-century american life be sure to visit Eureka Public Library District’s collection. Happy Autumn.

Mrs. Robert Johann of the Junior Women’s Club and four children marvel over a pumpkin pie. Permission to display was provided by the Eureka Public Library District.