Tales of Mystery, Intrigue, and Suspense; or, Northern Illinois University’s Nickels and Dimes Collection

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.

Illustrated cover featuring a trapper in a classic animal-skin hat
Seth Jones; or, The Captive of the Frontier. 1860. Northern Illinois University. Public domain.
Cover art featuring a carriage of children being pulled by a human-like robot
The Huge Hunter; or, The Steam Man of the Prairies. 1870. Northern Illinois University. Public domain.
Newpaper print first page of novel featuring image of a circle of people dressed like cowboys in what appears to be a saloon
Captain Volcano; or, The Man of the Red Revolvers. 1881. Northern Illinois University. Public domain.
Cover art featuring a woman and man escaping on ropes out of a trap door; man firing on a group of people clad in red devil pajamas
A Compact with Dazaar; or, The Devil Worshipper’s Den. 1904. Northern Illinois University. Public domain.
Cover art featuring three men in bowler hats.
Three Jolly Pards; or, The Pets of Paddy’s Flat. 1886. Northern Illinois University. Public domain.

All of Northern Illinois University’s items may be accessed in the DPLA here.

Summer in Illinois Postcards

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.

Postcard featuring picnic grounds among evergreens
Shawnee National Forest, Southern Illinois. 1938. Newberry Library.
Postcard featuring lake and shoreline with houses and people on the beach
The Glorydale Summer Resort on Kankakee River, Momence, IL. 1929. Newberry Library.
Postcard with painting of people on beach and swimming in lake
Bathing Beach on Cedar Lake, between Lake Villa and Antioch, Illinois. 1949. Newberry Library.
Postcard with clear river cutting through a lush forest
Picturesque Des Plaines River. 1964. Newberry Library.
Postcard with a boat on a lake shore
Tower Park -Tower Lakes Estates. 1927. Newberry Library.

You can access all of the above images and all other Newberry items in the DPLA through this link.

Welcome Illinois State University!

Illinois State University (ISU) is our newest contributor, with 13 exciting collections including circus films, the letters of Buffalo Bill, and a collection of audio from historical extremist political movements in the United States. 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.

Color image of two elephants pulling green circus cage wagon. Men in red outfits sit atop one elephant and the cage wagon.
Cage Wagon and Elephants. 1943. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.
Four people in image, from left to right: a clown with white and black face paint in a yellow and red outfit, one aerialist in a yellow and black outfit, a woman in blue holding two baby gorillas, and a man in background looking at the gorillas.
Circus personnel with gorilla. 1954. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.
Image of a woman wearing a large star headdress and green and white outfit, extending her arm and sitting on top of a horse.
Performer on a horse. 1956. Illinois State University.  Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University
Woman in blue outfit and a rose in her hair. She is standing on her hands and her feet are on her shoulders
Performer doing contortions. 1950. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.
Woman and chimpanzees are sitting on grass, all are wearing light blue and silver outfits with tutus and headpieces.
Performer and chimpanzees. 1956. Illinois State University. Permission to display was given by Milner Library, Illinois State University.

For more on this collection, visit the Illinois State University Milner Library digital collections on their home site

You can also access all these images through DPLA this link

Welcome University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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.

Frontal view of bugle against black background.
Bugle from the Carl Busch Papers and Music Instrument Collection, ca. 1833-1924 (series 12/9/91), Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Rectangular experimental guitar made of wood. Right side has 10 levers, there are 12 strings in the center, and a metal plate at the bottom.
Experimental Guitar, Elbern H. “Eddie” Alkire Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1926-1997 (series 12/9/91), Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Image of a heckelphone. Double-reed instrument made of a reddish wood with metal keys.
Heckelphone from the University Bands Collection, ca. 1840-1997 (series 12/9/93), Sousa Archives and Center for American Music
Wood and ivory instrument with finger holes. In the bagpipe family.
Musette from the Carl Busch Papers and Music Instrument Collection, ca. 1833-1924 (series 12/9/93), Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Silver instrument with keys, similar to saxophone, but with bell facing upwards.
Sarussophone from the Carl Busch Papers and Music Instrument Collection, ca. 1833-1924 (series 12/9/93), Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

To see more of the images in the collection, please click here.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has many other collections as well, please visit those in the University of Illinois digital library here and as part of the DPLA here.

Welcome DePaul University

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.

Two children are walking down the sidewalk between two new buildings.
Deborah Bright, Courtyard of apartment building in Lincoln Park, Chicago, 1985. Deborah Bright Photographs, Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.
An alley with a telephone pole that is surrounded by a metal garbage bin, and pieces of wood on the ground.
Deborah Bright. Alley in Lincoln Park, Chicago. 1985. Deborah Bright Photographs, Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.
Three buildings side-by-side on a sunny day, one buildings has a Coca-Cola sign out front, two buildings appear to be residential buildings.
Deborah Bright. Residential and commercial buildings along W. Webster Ave., Chicago. 1985. Deborah Bright Photographs, Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.
A fence separates two urban gardens. There are residential buildings in the background.
Deborah Bright. Garden in a residential lot in Lincoln Park, Chicago. 1985. Deborah Bright Photographs, Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.
Newer homes are surrounded by chain-link fence. There is a boat on a trailer in the middle ground.
Deborah Bright. House exterior in Lincoln Park, Chicago. 1985. Deborah Bright Photographs, Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.

Permission to display here is granted by DePaul University Special Collections and Archives.

To see the full collection, please visit the collection here.

There are other many great collections in Illinois that document various aspects of the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, check them out in DPLA!

Celebrating Pumpkins at the Eureka Pumpkin Festival

Autumn is a beautiful time of year in Illinois when the leaves on the trees change from green to a wild display of colors, the crops in the fields are completing their lifecycle and are ready for harvest, and wildflowers such as goldenrod are putting out their final, golden blooms.

To celebrate this wonderful time of year,  in 1939, the Eureka Community Association, of Eureka, Illinois organized the first Eureka Pumpkin Festival. Originally billed as a way to boost the local economy after the Great Depression, the Eureka Pumpkin Festival was a successful community festival that celebrated pumpkins and the people of Eureka, IL, and lasted from that first festival in 1939 to 1961.

The Eureka Public Library District has nearly 300 photographs and scans of pamphlets and recipe books that document the festival over the years.

PPP107001_Front_Cover.jpg
Dickinson & Company, Eureka, Illinois. Dick’s Kitchen About Custard Pumpkin: How Manufactured How Used In Cooking. 1922. Eureka Public Library. Permission to display was given by Dr. Junius Rodriguez.

Continue reading “Celebrating Pumpkins at the Eureka Pumpkin Festival”

Welcome to IDHH Highlights!

This new blog will highlight digital collections that have been contributed to the Illinois Digital Heritage Hub and will be updated biweekly.  These collections come from the rich and diverse group of institutions that contribute their metadata to the IDHH.  Contributors are made up of libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and many other great institutions from around the state of Illinois.

In these collections you will find diaries chronicling the first hand experience of residents of Illinois, photographs documenting the changing cities and towns, and newspapers that give a glimpse into everyday life of years gone by.   All of these and more can be found through the Digital Public Library of America, as well as highlighted here on the IDHH Highlights blog.  Explore the rich cultural heritage of Illinois with us!