We are so excited to welcome the Des Plaines Public Library back to the IDHH! The Des Plaines Public Library has added five new collections to Des Plaines Memory: Life During COVID-19; On the Streets of Des Plaines, 1915; Life During Wartime; We Mean Business; and Sports & Recreation. Des Plaines Memory is an online archive of locally sourced photographs, documents, and memorabilia related to the City of Des Plaines, with contributions from the Des Plaines History Center, the Des Plaines Park District, and individuals in the community.
Although all of these collections are amazing, my favorite is On the Streets of Des Plaines, 1915. Contributed by the Des Plaines History Center, this is a stunning collection of candid photographs made from glass plate negatives that were taken in downtown Des Plaines, circa 1915, by an unidentified photographer. My favorite part about this collection is the lack of formally posed photographs. I feel like it gives us a valuable insight into what daily life actually looked like, rather than what a select few people wanted the world to believe it looked like.
Here are a few of our favorite images from the full On The Streets of Des Plaines, 1915 collection:
Jazz is a uniquely American music genre that originated in New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jazz music has roots in blues and ragtime, and has undergone many evolutions over the years, from New Orleans jazz in the 1910s, to big band swing in the 1930s and 1940s, to jazz-rock fusion in the 1960s and 1970s, to smooth jazz in the 1980s. One of the key characteristics of jazz music is improvisation, and jazz music places importance on the collaboration of the performers, with no song being played exactly the same way twice.
Jazz as a genre was pioneered by musicians like Scott Joplin, Bessie Smith, and Jelly Roll Morton. Performers like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington helped to solidify the sound of big band swing. The evolution of Jazz-rock fusion was led by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, and Frank Zappa. Smooth jazz slowed the genre down, and featured artists such as Sade, Anita Baker, Al Jarreau, and Grover Washington, Jr.
Here at the IDHH, we recognize the month of April as Jazz Appreciation Month. To celebrate the genre, we are featuring collections from Illinois Wesleyan University, the Chicago History Museum, Knox College, Western Illinois University, and Benedictine University. These collections highlight jazz performers and performances from Illinois. Here are a few of our favorite images from the collections:
On April 9th, 1865, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met at Appomattox Courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia, where General Lee surrendered to General Grant. Although the last battle of the Civil War was fought in May of 1865, April 9th marks the official end of the war itself.
To mark this event in our nation’s history, the IDHH is featuring the Boys in Blue Collection from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. This collection serves as a repository for cabinet cards, tintypes, and cartes de visite of over 8000 Illinois soldiers who served in the Civil War, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum has verified information about what regiment the soldier served in, when they enlisted, where they were from, and when the photograph was taken.
The boys and men in these photographs are the unsung heroes of the Civil War – though they are not often specifically named in history books, they were the backbone of the Union Army and deserve recognition.
Here are a few of our favorite images from the collection:
Since its founding by Clara Barton on May 21, 1881, the American Red Cross has provided services to American armed forces and their families, as well as disaster relief around the world. While they have adapted to meet the changing needs of the people they serve, they have remained true to their mission of serving people in need.
In 1943, President Roosevelt was the first to proclaim March as American Red Cross Month. Since then, issuing this proclamation has become an annual tradition, where presidents designate March as the month to honor American Red Cross volunteers. March 24 also marks the seventh annual American Red Cross Giving Day, during which the American Red Cross encourages communities to come together and donate to help the American Red Cross provide essential relief to those affected by disasters.
In honor of American Red Cross Giving Day, the IDHH has collected a few of our favorite images featuring American Red Cross volunteers from our contributors at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County, the McLean County Museum of History, and the Graham Hospital School of Nursing:
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we at the IDHH would like to introduce Hazle Buck Ewing, passionate activist for women’s suffrage and lifelong member of the Bloomington League of Women Voters.
Ewing joined the women’s suffrage movement in 1915, and worked to secure voting rights for women through her writing, her attendance at conferences, and her financial support of the movement. She continued to promote women’s rights after the passage of the 19th amendment by supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and voting in every election beginning in 1920, only stopping when she was too ill to leave her home. She died at the age of 88 on August 29, 1969.
The Hazle Buck Ewing Women’s Suffrage collection from Illinois State University is comprised of materials created and collected by Ewing during her involvement in the women’s suffrage movement. The collection has over 150 items and includes letters, articles, pamphlets, and photographs that give insight into the efforts made by early 20th-century suffrage activists to secure women the right to vote.
To celebrate Hazle Buck Ewing and Women’s History Month, here are a few of our favorite items from the collection:
In August, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, featuring images of women exercising their right to vote from the McLean County Museum of History’s Pantagraph Negative Collection (1940-1945).
Healthcare providers play a critical role in caring for patients and saving lives, especially during a pandemic. For roughly a year now, these front-line workers have continued the dedication and sacrifice of the healthcare profession, putting themselves at risk for COVID-19 while taking care of their patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities around the world.
To celebrate these healthcare providers, the IDHH welcomes our new contributor Methodist College and their History of Methodist College collection. Now a four-year, private, not-for-profit college, Methodist College was established in 1900 as a nurse training program by the deaconesses of the Methodist Episcopal church in Peoria. The History of Methodist College collection reflects the growth of this nurse training program into a four-year college, with over 1,200 items that include class groups, study sessions, diplomas, student bulletins, and patient care throughout the last century.
Here are a few of our favorite items from the collection:
To celebrate Black History Month, the IDHH is featuring the Daily Egyptian Diversity News Archive collection from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC). This collection includes select articles from the 1930s to the 1970s relating to the African American populations at SIUC, digitized from the microfilm archives of SIUC’s award-winning student-run newspaper the Daily Egyptian. Begun in 2006, this digitization project was a collaboration between SIUC’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Morris Library Special Collections Research Center.
Topics covered include the activities of the local chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Alpha Phi Alpha (the first intercollegiate historically African American Greek-lettered sorority and fraternity, respectively); African American performers visiting the campus; athletics, courses, and faculty; and the struggles of African Americans living in the racially-segregated United States.
Happy New Year, everyone! With our first harvest of 2021, the IDHH now contains 471 collections from 146 contributors, for a total of 382,479 items of five different formats: images, text, physical objects, video, and audio. We’d like to start the year by highlighting our two new oral history collections.
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The East Central Illinois Oral Histories collection from Eastern Illinois University features nearly 100 interviews with transcripts, originally recorded between 1977-1989. As the interviewees discuss their lives and histories, the topics covered include the Civilian Conservation Corps, shoe sales, the US Civil War and the World Wars, funeral homes, agriculture and farm life, labor and railroads in Illinois, taxes, temperance and Prohibition, and basketball.
To browse the full East Central Illinois Oral Histories collection, please visit the IDHH here.
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The Recordings of the Illinois Labor History Society collection from Roosevelt University features over 120 recordings, dating from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Topics include labor unions such as the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), labor strikes and lockouts, women and African-Americans in labor, and remembrances of the Haymarket Square Riot. Notable voices in the recordings include labor activists Leslie “Les” Orear, Lou Krainock, Ralph Helstein, and Victoria “Vicki” Starr.
To see the full Recordings of the Illinois Labor History Society collection, please visit the IDHH here.
This year has no doubt been marked by the coronavirus pandemic. The Illinois State Museum has started a collection documenting Illinoisans experiences of the initial days shelter-in place and the summer’s movement for justice following the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville through art, personal essays, and photographs. The collection is on-going, but here are a few already in the collection: