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Archive of: 2017

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.

Newsletter: Winter 2017/18

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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.

Remembering Those Who Served- World War I Veterans at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery

Grave site of Nathan Davis, Pvt Co. M Dev BN No. 2. Grave is marked with a U.S. Flag and poppy at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Bloomington, IL.

As part of the commemoration of the centennial of the U.S. entering World War I, the Museum took on the monumental task of identifying veterans of the First World War who are buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.

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.

Fifth annual Corn Belt Coin Show July 14-15, 1962

The two-day Corn Belt Coin Show in July 1962 was held at the Illinois Hotel (now Illinois House) in downtown Bloomington. Some 1,500 persons were expected to attend the show. Folks here are looking at a $100,000 silver dollar display. If you recognize anyone in this photo, please let us know.

An Old Master returns home ‘Doc’ Bradshaw, July 19, 1962

Kenneth “Doc” Bradshaw, one of the more accomplished pianists to come out of the Twin Cities, returned home in July 1962 after a seventeen-year absence. He performed before a capacity crowd at Miller Park. Doc is seen here warming up in the bandstand with Dorothy Ann Burkhart, a former student of his. Who out there recalls Doc Bradshaw?

Glen Dotson and ‘Sparky’ Towanda, January 1941

Glen Dotson is seen here in late January 1941 with his new pet pigeon “Sparky.” Glen’s previous pigeon had been killed by an automobile. After reading about Glen’s loss, Lewis Hodge of Bloomington gave the Towanda boy a new pigeon, Sparky, who was said to be well-trained and fond of music.

Frankie Finck, Gridley’s ‘strong baby’ August 1949

Margy Finck of Gridley demonstrates how her six-month-old son Frankie was able to balance in her hands. Frankie’s doctor was said to admire his strong back!

New American citizen May 24, 1941

Twenty-six people became American citizens in a naturalization ceremony held May 24, 1941, in the McLean County Courthouse. Overseeing the proceedings was Circuit Judge W.C. Radliff. Seen here is an unidentified woman completing her naturalization paperwork.

Some of the women who became U.S. citizens on this day included Catherina Fillipponi, Marguerite Grundler, and Frieda Wilde. If you can identify the woman shown here, please let us know!

Parking meters perplex motorists Downtown Bloomington, May 1941

Parking meters were first installed in downtown Bloomington in February 1940. By the following spring these contraptions were still confusing local residents, as illustrated in this May 1941 Pantagraph photograph. The befuddled gentleman is local resident L.C. Hill.

Woops! Roller-skating messenger State Farm Insurance, summer 1940

More than a week ago we posted a photograph from this set. Here’s another one. At the time, State Farm was testing the feasibility of having staff at its downtown Bloomington building deliver mail on roller skates. Seen here is Fayne Hoobler taking a rare tumble. Sitting at the desk is Margaret Warrick.

Lexington Art Show July 1962

Jack Statz and Jann Thompson Anderson served as judges for an art show held in conjunction with Lexington’s annual homecoming festivities. The landscape they’re chatting about was judged one of the best in the adult professional class. It was painted by Libby James Compton of Clinton, IL, a native of Lexington.

City Hoosegow September 1938

Old Bloomington City Hall, located at the corner of East and Monroe streets downtown, included eight narrow holding cells. These were located in the basement.

Clarke Triplets Turn Eight Downs, August 1949

Mary, Margaret, and Marilyn Clarke of Downs (don’t ask us to identify who’s who!) turned eight years old on August 21, 1949. Their mother, Maude M. Phillips Clarke, made all their matching outfits—and those for their dolls too!

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