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Richard and Judy Buchanan Named 2019 History Maker Honorees

Richard and Judy Buchanan

What happens when you mix a Chicago Irish Democrat with a small-town Illinois Baptist Republican?  - The amazing community servant duo of Richard and Judy Buchanan.

Jana Edge named 2019 History Maker Honoree

Jana Edge

In 1988, a group of local activists became exploring a “Sister City” relationship with a Russian community, hoping to lessen Cold War tensions.  Jana and Orlyn were in the delegation to the Soviet Union and eventually decided upon Vladimir as Bloomington-Normal’s sister city.  Locally, she was called a “communist, unpatriotic” and threatened, including anonymous phone calls:  “We know you are home alone right now.”

Henry Gay Named 2019 History Maker Honoree

Henry Gay


It’s a rough road from the Louisiana cotton fields to Bloomington-Normal, with obstacles every step of the way.   Henry Gay Sr. completed that journey with dignity and standing up for human rights.

Newsletter -- Winter 2018/19

Check out our latest newsletter!

Don Munson Named 2018 History Maker Honoree

Donald G. Munson was born September 26, 1941, in Gibson City and attended Gibson City schools.

Paul and Sandra Harmon Named 2018 History Maker Honorees

Paul and Sandra Harmon shake their heads when they’re referred to as a “power couple,” but that’s how many people in the community describe them. This reluctant “power couple” first met during their freshman year at the University of Dubuque in Iowa, marrying shortly after they graduated in 1964.

Ronn Morehead Named 2018 History Maker Honoree

Ronn grew up in Normal, Illinois. Working in his father’s tavern as a young man, Ronn feels, shaped him and helped prepare him for the workforce.

Newsletter: Spring 2018

Our latest newsletter is now available! Click the button below to download it.

Lovell Named Executive Director

Adam Lovell, of Reedsville Wisconsin, has been named the new Executive Director at the McLean County Museum of History.

2018 History Makers Announced

The McLean County Museum of History announced on Tuesday four recipients of the 2018 History Makers award to be presented during the Museum’s sixth annual History Makers Gala on Thursday, June 28 at the DoubleTree by Hilton.

Pages from the Past Available Now

This highly anticipated second volume of Pages from the Past: Stories from the Sunday Pantagraph, is now available for purchase. Volume 2 includes 77 new installments from Bill Kemp’s weekly feature.

A message from our Museum director

Dear Museum members and friends,

You have likely heard the news that I will be leaving the McLean County Museum of History next year for a new opportunity with the Town of Normal. I wish I could have personally delivered the news to each of you in person, and perhaps I am in this moment. I hope you’ll allow me a minute to share a little more about this decision and what is next for the Museum.

I believe in lifelong learning and after a career in broadcast news, I took a chance and joined the museum world. I have loved every single day of it.

The McLean County Museum of History has been my home for five very important years. Not only have I grown as a museum professional, I have formed a deeper bond with this community in a way that only a history museum can inspire. I also have a new appreciation for our many cultural opportunities thanks to our community partnerships, board members, and volunteers. In these past five years, we have grown our programs, built new exhibits, upgraded our digital capacity, and successfully transitioned into a new era for the Museum. My exit is bittersweet for me, but I am entirely confident our staff, our board, and volunteers won’t miss a step. They’re a pretty amazing team!

Taking on a leadership role with the Cultural Arts Department and the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal is a chance for more professional growth. And, I’m happy to say our two museums will continue to partner on education programs throughout the year.

I will strive in my final weeks here to prepare the staff and work hard so that our board can focus on finding the Museum’s next leader. Thank you for your support of this invaluable institution. I will continue as a member and participate in learning and loving local history.

Sincerely,

Beth Whisman
Executive Director
McLean County Museum of History

Illinois Bicentennial flag raising kicks off year of programs

Members of the public, elected officials, and the local American Legion Honor Guard/Color Guard pose with the Illinois Bicentennial flag before the ceremony on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (Photo by Candace Summers)

The State of Illinois will celebrate its 200th birthday on Dec. 3, 2018. To help kick off a yearlong celebration of the Illinois Bicentennial, communities across the state hosted a simultaneous Illinois Bicentennial Flag Raising Ceremony at noon on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017.

Collection Storage Improvement Fund Drive Underway

Surgeon kit of Dr. Lee Smith, 26th president of the McLean County Medical Society.

This holiday season, the McLean County Museum of History is raising $5,500 to upgrade our collections storage space to meet museum and archival standards and ensure our collections are preserved for future generations. Our collection contains more than 20,000 objects donated from local residents of McLean County and beyond.

CIADA Makes Donation to FiHC

Museum educator Hannah Johnson expresses her thanks to Mary Lynn Edwards and the CIADA for a generous donation to Futures in History Camp.

In celebration of the organization's 100th anniversary, the Central Illinois Antique Dealers Association (CIADA) presented a generous donation of $825.00 to be used towards scholarships and expenses for Futures in History Camp 2018. CIADA webmaster and vendor Mary Lynn Edwards presented Museum educator Hannah Johnson with the check at the CIADA's Fall Antique Show at the Interstate Center on October 28. The Museum would like to express its thanks to the CIADA for their support and extend that thanks to the past and future campers who make Futures in History Camp a program worth supporting. The Museum looks forward to another summer exploring futures in history. Stay tuned for 2018 camp dates.

Newsletter: Fall 2017

Click here to download the Fall 2017 newsletter.

Museum, Prairie Pride Coalition host trip to Albert Cashier musical in Chicago

Albert Cashier made national news after doctors discovered his female biological gender after years of living as a man, including years of fighting in the Union Army during the Civil War. He is shown as both a young soldier and a senior later in life.

The McLean County Museum of History is currently taking reservations for a special bus trip to see “The Civility of Albert Cashier”, a limited-run musical that focuses on the life of a Central Illinois Civil War soldier who defied contemporary gender roles. A matinee performance, the show will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, September 17 at Stage 773 in Chicago. A limited number of scholarships for local high school students will be available thanks to the Prairie Pride Coalition.

Born Jennie Irene Hodgers, Albert D.J. Cashier (December 25, 1843 – October 10, 1915) was an Irish-born immigrant who moved to Illinois and lived under a male identity before enlisting in the 95th Illinois Infantry during the American Civil War. Cashier maintained his secret throughout the war and for most of his adult life until a doctor discovered Cashier’s biological gender following an injury. Cashier’s story became famous as one of a number of women soldiers who served as men during the Civil War, however Cashier did not dress in men’s clothing just to join the Army. His male identity was part of his life before and after the war, leading current scholars to reconsider the female narrative that has long framed his legacy.

Museum to be Beneficiary of Schnucks' Bags 4 My Cause Program

During the month of August, when you purchase a reusable bag with the “giving is in the bag” message from the Schnucks’ located in north Normal, the Museum will receive $1.

Young Men's Club Funds Scholarships for Eight Campers

Pictured L-R: John William Yoder, Hannah Johnson, McLean County Museum of History, Frank Hoffman, President YMC
Photo Credit: Robert E. Handley (YMC)

Shout out to the Young Men’s Club! On Tuesday, May 30 the YMC, through its Youth Opportunities Foundation, presented the Museum’s Education Program Coordinator Hannah Johnson with a check to cover the cost of eight full scholarships for campers participating in Futures in History Camp 2017. This donation will cover the cost of roughly twenty-five percent of the campers who attend on scholarship each year. In addition to the donation, numerous members of the Club are offering their volunteer services in various capacities, including Bill Caisley, Guy Fraker, and Herb Knudsen.

Museum announces 2017 History Maker Honorees

Graphic showing the 2017 honorees: Craig Hart, Jeanne Morris, Charles Morris, Judy Stone and Jesse Smart

The McLean County Museum of History announced today five recipients of the 2017 History Makers award to be presented during the Museum’s sixth annual History Makers Gala on Thursday, June 15

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