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Collection Highlights Archive

Questers help restore priceless 1873 ‘bird’s eye’ view of Bloomington

Museum staff recognized the local Jesse Fell chapter of Questers International. This group, dedicated to the study and preservation of historical objects, oversaw a $1,500 donation to pay for a professional restoration of the Museum’s rare 1873 “bird’s eye” view of Bloomington.

International Questers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study, conservation, and preservation of historical objects, donated $1,500 to the McLean County Museum of History for the restoration of a priceless 1873 "bird's eye" view of Bloomington. Half the donation came from Illinois State Questers and the other half from the local Jesse Fell Chapter, the latter raised by way of garage sales. This significant donation to the McLean County Museum of History was undertaken by the Jesse Fell Chapter to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

One Dress, Eleven Brides

Myrtle Abbott McCarty, married 30 November 1904

This beautiful wedding gown was recently donated to the museum. First worn in 1904, it was subsequently worn by 10 brides – all descendants of the original wearer, Miss Alice Myrtle Abbott.

Halloween Traditions

These place cards were among many Halloween party favors found in 2009 residing in a wicker trunk in the attic of the Lewis Green Stevenson House at 1316 E. Washington Street in Bloomington.

Although there are several theories regarding the origin of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, its roots can be traced back to the ancient Celts of Ireland and Northern England. The Celtic New Year begins on November 1st and the festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”) is celebrated on October 31st to mark the end of harvest and the beginning of winter.

The Tilbury Flash on display at Central Illinois Regional Airport

The Tilbury Flash is hanging above the passenger side waiting area of the CIRA terminal.

The McLean County Museum of History’s largest artifact, the Tilbury Flash racing plane, has officially arrived at the Central Illinois Regional Airport terminal.

Collection Highlight: Ross Vinson, Funk Bro. Seed Company Photographer

Much of my time as Registrar at the McLean County Museum of History is spent looking through the lens of a camera, photographing the 20,000+ objects in our collection. Capturing the perfect image doesn’t always come easily and I’m always impressed by anyone with a good eye for photography. One such individual is Ross Vinson...

Slitherin’ no more Mystery Pic, 1958

This fascinating photograph is a mystery to Museum staff. The only thing we’re sure about is that it was taken on June 30, 1958.

Springtime in “BloNo’ Iris Walk, 1939

Although you wouldn’t know it from this past weekend’s weather, the end of May and the beginning of June mark the traditional start of the garden walk season in Bloomington-Normal.

Chenoa Airport, 1948

Here are two more photographs from the rural airport’s second annual air show, held August 29, 1948.

Volunteers: Helping the Museum make history every day

Cane given to Isaiah Dillon.  The dates on the inscription, 1855 – 1905, correspond with Isaiah and Mary Fisher Dillon’s wedding anniversary.

The value of each object the Museum owns isn't measured in monetary terms but rather its provenance. Knowing who owned the object, when and where it was used, and for what purpose, helps us to preserve the history of McLean County.

The Meyer Brewing Co.

Advertisement from the Bloomington City Directory, 1904

The McLean County Museum of History holds a small collection of artifacts used by the Meyer Brewing Company of Bloomington, IL, a local brewery that enjoyed much success prior to Prohibition.

Volunteer Reflection: Drew Brandau

My first day here I was given the task of making a finding aid for a nearly 100-year-old collection of World War I material, mainly books and military manuals. A finding aid is a typed inventory of the contents of an archival collection, and as such helps researchers and those interested in the collection find their way around the material.

Intern Reflections: Back Room Objects

That had to be my favorite day, as it morphed from handling the objects in the room to having several employees in the museum show me the various archives and vaults that I had yet to see. I clearly didn't understand the scope of the museum collections nor what their accreditation meant for a museum in a city of this size.

A Unique Look At A Hollywood Starlet

Among the many treasures held by the McLean County Museum of History is this portrait of Irene Delroy (pictured above) painted by George Maillard Kesslere in 1929. It hung in the Ithaca, NY, home of her second husband Gerard Oberrender until his death in 1998.

Josephine Sanders was born in Bloomington, IL, on July 21, 1900. She was better known by her stage and screen name, Irene Delroy.

McNulta Time Capsule

This wine decanter originally arrived at the McLean County Museum of History as a time capsule.

Miller Hatchery Supports War Effort

What do a chicken and a high explosive artillery shell have in common? This sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke, but here in McLean County, they do in fact share something in common!

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Batemans Restaurant & Ice Cream Saloon, 1873, Bloomington Illinois

How long exactly have people been screaming for ice cream? No one really knows for sure; but, I do know that nothing beats the taste of homemade ice cream!

Spring Is In The Air!

In the Garden painting by Nina Kickbusch Griffin

This painting was created by Nina Kickbusch Griffin for the 1937 All-Illinois Society of Fine Arts exhibition at the Congress Hotel in Chicago. The Society would later present the award-winning painting to The Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's School (ISSCS) where it would be displayed for several years before making its way to The Museum.

Easter Parade, LeRoy Style, 1937

Easter LeRoy 1937 McLean County Museum of History

On Sunday, April 9, 1937, The Pantagraph ran a photo spread on LeRoy ladies getting ready for Easter church services and family get-togethers.

Soap Box Derby Dreams

The M.E. Doyle Trophy was presented to Eugene Millard after becoming City Champion of the Bloomington Soap Box Derby on July 22, 1937.

The M.E. Doyle Trophy was presented to Eugene Millard after becoming City Champion of the Bloomington Soap Box Derby on July 22, 1937. Millard would go on to win the Central Illinois title and compete at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio.

How much influence can a historic event have on popular clothing design?

This flapper* dress, though not a Paris design, is hand stitched and beaded, and was collected by Marlyn Lawrentz, a Bloomington resident who adored vintage clothing. She donated it to the Museum in 1996. The circular patterning around the neckline was influenced by beaded collars, like the one pictured below, that were removed from Tut’s tomb.

The dress pictured here was designed in the 1920s and was most definitely influenced by an archaeological event.The geometric beaded pattern was influenced by Egyptian design, but what was the event?

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