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A History of the Evergreen Cemetery Walk

30 min to 1 hour Candace Summers Email

Learn about the past characters, burial customs, cemetery history and architecture, and more.

Format: Powerpoint

A Social History of Bloomington Walking Tour

2 hours Bill Kemp Email

Learn the history of neighborhoods and industry in Bloomington. The walk starts downtown, continues south through the warehouse district, and ends on the west side at the site of the old Chicago & Alton Railroad passenger station.

Format: Tour

Artists of the Corn Belt

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Lou Burk (1845-1914) and Alfred Montgomery (1857-1922) were two of the more important artists who made Bloomington home during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The careers of both men are inextricably linked with the Central Illinois cornbelt�Montgomery primarily painted ear corn and Burk livestock. The rise of folk art as a serious subject matter for scholars and collectors alike has boosted the reputations of both artists.

Format: Powerpoint

Barns of McLean County

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Everybody loves barns! Learn about the history of barns in the context of McLean County history�barn styles, construction materials and the ongoing struggle to preserve these silent sentinels of the Cornbelt countryside. This illustrated talk includes plenty of historic images from the mid-19th century to the present.

Format: Powerpoint

Bloomington-Normal: The Other Side

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Is Bloomington-Normal an exemplar of White Bread America? Or is there another, surprising side to Central Illinois? Local struggles against oppression are not new. Learn amazing stories about how BloNo grappled with slavery, racism, women's equality, workers' struggles, and LGBTQ rights.

Corn and Illinois

45 min Greg Koos Email

The growth of the Midwest is closely tied with the growth of the almighty crop; corn. Hear the "amaizing" story of the people who grew corn; from Native Americans to today's farmers.

Fee: $100

Downtown Bloomington Architectural Tour

30 min to 1 hour Greg Koos Email

An introduction to the past and present buildings of historic downtown Bloomington. Come and learn about the architectural changes that have taken place in a city that was once among the fastest growing in the Midwest.

Fee: $100

Format: Tour

Early Automobiling in McLean County

30 min Greg Koos Email

Explore the first twenty years of automobiling in McLean County.

Fee: $100

Format: Powerpoint

From Jenny to Albert: Pvt. Cashier and the Civil War

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

During the Civil War, Pvt. Cashier spent three years on the march through the South with the 95th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, all the while participating in some of the bloodiest campaigns of the Western Theater. Though a true tale of war and woe, this remarkable story becomes even more remarkable when one learns that Cashier was actually born as Jennie Hodgers.

Format: Powerpoint

Greening of the Prairie: Irish Immigration in McLean County

45 min Greg Koos Email

The Irish have long been a part of the McLean County story. From the Scots-Irish who first settled our county to the Irish Famine refugees who came in the 1850s to build the railroads, this program will tell the story of their lives on both the farms and in the factories, as well as some of the 20th century success stories.

Fee: $100

Format: Powerpoint

Grids: Travel in a Prairie Place

45 min Greg Koos Email

This lecture provides a history of land transportation in McLean County from the first pioneer trails to the Interstate Highway System. PowerPoint illustrated with maps and images of roads, vehicles, and places. Q&A is encouraged.

Fee: $100

Format: Powerpoint

How to Research Your Historic Home

1 hour Greg Koos Email

Get the tips you need to tackle history of your home. Slides.

Fee: $100

John Wesley Powell

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

In 1869, this one-armed Civil War veteran and Illinois Wesleyan instructor led the first expedition through the Grand Canyon. Slides.

Lincoln in Downtown Walking Tour

1 hour Greg Koos Email

One hour tour of sites associated with Abraham Lincoln. Learn about the people and the town where Lincoln spent more time than any other place outside Springfield. Minimum 10 persons, maximum 30, weather permitting.

Fee: $100

Format: Tour

Lucy's Girls: Lucy Orme Morgan and the Girl's Industrial Home

45 min to 1 hour Candace Summers Email

Lucy Orme Morgan was a woman who was passionate about social welfare and was active in numerous philanthropic activities throughout her lifetime. However, her passion (and what would become the most distinguishable effort in her life) was the Girl's Industrial Home. Founded in 1889, the Girl's Industrial Home was a place for dependent children who were neglected or had no one to care for them. It was an institution where girls would be taught useful things to prepare them for a life of independence when they were of age. To Lucy, it was her "hobby" to make it "a home and keep it as far as possible from being an institution." For more than 30 years, the Home flourished under her watchful eye. And because of her service to that institution, the board of the Home honored that service by renaming it as "The Lucy Orme Morgan Home" in 1929.

Format: PowerPoint

McLean County Christmas Stories

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

See and hear how local residents celebrated the holidays from the pioneer era into the mid-20th century. Learn the important role the German community played in popularizing many Christmas traditions, and travel back to a time when downtown Bloomington was a retail wonderland!

McLean County Home Front during World War I

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

The Great War involved a host of home front activities, including war bond drives, food conservation efforts, shipments of Red Cross supplies, parades, and public gatherings to sing patriotic songs. There was also a dark side to the war, including the suppression of the large local German community.

Format: Powerpoint

McLean County in the Civil War

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Some 7,000 men from McLean County enlisted in the Union Army, and about 700 died during the four-year conflict. In this illustrated talk, learn about the county's role in the Civil War, including its generals, colonels, and enlisted men; leading regiments, campaigns and battles; as well as what happened on the home front.

Format: Powerpoint

McLean County Stories

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Learn about some of the more curious chapters of local history, such as the life and times of Leonard "Baby" Bliss, a 500-plus pound Bloomington resident who became a nationally known bicycle showman; the unknown Civil War soldier buried in Saybrook; the 1830-31 "Winter of Deep Snow" that threatened the life and limb of early pioneers; and many others! Think history is boring? Think again!

Format: Powerpoint

McLean County Workers

45 min Mike Matejka Email

A visit to McLean County's past through vintage photos showing a variety of local historic occupations from cigar makers to railroad workers.

Format: Slides

Old McLean County Courthouse

Old McLean County Courthouse

30 min to 1 hour Candace Summers Email

Tour the old McLean County Courthouse and learn about its history and architecture. Maximum of 20 people, minimum of 10

Format: Tour

Pioneer Cattle and Hog Droving

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Before the coming of the railroads, McLean County Farmers marched livestock to markets as far away as Chicago and Cincinnati. Can you imagine driving 2,000 hogs 120 miles to Chicago in the wind, ice, and snow of November? Isaac Funk and other area livestock farmers lived to tell the tale!.

Format: Slides

Step On Tour of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery

1 hour Candace Summers Email

A tour of Bloomington's oldest cemetery featuring information about cemetery art and architecture, the evolution of monument styles and materials, and information about Evergreen Memorial Cemetery's long history. The tour will also feature information about individuals who have been featured on the McLean County Museum of History's longest running outreach event, the Evergreen Cemetery Walk. Maximum of 20 persons.

Format: Tour

The 'Lost Speech' Found: Abraham Lincoln and the Founding of the Illinois Republican Party

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

On May 29, 1856, Lincoln gave the keynote address at a convention held in downtown Bloomington to establish a new political party opposed to the expansion of slavery—the Republican Party. Learn why this speech became to be known as the “Lost Speech” … and how it’s not really lost!

Format: PowerPoint

The Architecture of A. L. Pillsbury

30 min to 1 hour Susan Hartzold Email

Bloomington architect Arthur Pillsbury designed over 800 homes, schools, and businesses in Illinois during his brief, but brilliant career. During this program, participants will learn about his education, career, and his impact on the Bloomington-Normal community.

Format: Powerpoint

The Monuments Speak: The Art and Architecture of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery

30 min Candace Summers Email

Ever wonder what a tree trunk monument means? Or the symbolism behind a lamb engraved on a tombstone? This program will explore the meanings of the large variety of symbols found on cemetery monuments and markers, what types of materials monuments are made out of, and the evolution of the size and style of monuments, using diverse features and monuments found at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery as examples.

Format: Powerpoint

The Night the Stars Fell

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

On November 13, 1833, the nighttime heavens lit up like a Fourth of July sparkler as tens of thousands of meteors streaked through the darkened sky. Known as the "Night the Stars Fell," it proved to be the greatest meteor shower in U.S. history. What did McLean County residents make of this fantastic and fearful display? How did this event alter our understanding of meteors and meteor showers? Learn the answer to these and other questions in this out-of-this-world talk!

Format: Powerpoint

The Old Three Eye

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

The Bloomington Bloomers were an inaugural member in the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (1901-1961), one of the nation's oldest professional baseball circuits. In 1935, hall-of-famer Burleigh Grimes was the manager.

Format: Slides

The Orphan Train in McLean County

1 hour Rochelle Gridley Email

From 1872 to 1890 the western agency of a New York Orphanage was in Normal, Illinois. Learn about the fate of orphans brought to McLean County by the famed trains over a 60 year period.

Format: Powerpoint

The Showmen's Final Resting Place

1 hour Candace Summers Email

Bloomington and Normal has been home to a variety of industries throughout its history. One such industry, one which members of this very community may not know about, was that of producing aerialists and circus performers. It could be said that Bloomington-Normal was a factory, churning out internationally renowned performers that would influence and train generations to come. For more than 80 years, spanning the 1870s until the 1950s, countless numbers of individuals left their mark on history. And a significant number of these performers decided to make Bloomington-Normal their final resting place as well. This illustrated program will identify who those individuals are, what cemetery they are buried in, and provide detailed information about the monuments and markers at their final resting place.

Format: Powerpoint

The Swedish Community in Bloomington

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Learn about how Bloomington's Swedish community was an influential ethnic group in the latter half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. Discover what occupations they held, where they settled in town, and more. PowerPoint.

The Unconquerable: Kickapoo of Central Illinois

45 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

The Kickapoo, a fiercely independent people, inhabited this stretch of Central Illinois when the first Euro-American settlers arrived in the early 1820s. This talk will include rare 1906 photographs of Kickapoo living in Brown County, Kansas. These photographs were commissioned by Milo Custer, an early curator of the McLean County Historical Society.

Format: Powerpoint

To Be a Writer, One Has To Be a Reader: the Life and Work of Clara Louise Kessler

1 hour Candace Summers Email

Clara Louise Kessler was an author, a teacher, and a librarian who had a lifelong interest in books, poetry, songs, and children. She began her career working with children as a kindergarten teacher first, and then embarked on a 33-year long position as the head children's librarian at Withers Public Library (today named Bloomington Public Library). Her mission was not only to present the very best children's literature and encourage its enjoyment, but to create an environment which would stimulate children's imaginations, encourage children to freely express themselves, and help children grow into adults that would help build a better Bloomington. She helped shape the lives of many people, in particular children, in this community through every book she recommended, every poem she encouraged to be written, and every story by her own hand she shared.

Format: Powerpoint

Urban Barns: Livery Stables (and other barn-like buildings) in the Bloomington-Normal Area

30 min to 1 hour Bill Kemp Email

Before the rise of the automobile, horses were indispensable to urban as well as rural communities. Barns and barn-like structures were commonplace in the Twin Cities and included livery stables, carriage houses, and sale and feed barns. There were also barns used by aerialists and acrobats when this area was a wintering home for circus folk.

Format: Powerpoint

Wet or Dry? - Prohibition in McLean County, 1920-1933

45 min to 1 hour Candace Summers Email

McLean County may not seem like the typical area where bootlegging and rum running flourished in the early 20th century- but it did! This presentation will explore who those law breakers were, how citizens responded to Prohibition, and answer the question why Prohibition ultimately failed.

What's Coming Down the Line? The Railroad in the American Mind

45 min Mike Matejka Email

A look at the railroad's impact on the nation's economy, culture, folklore, and children.

Format: Slides

Women Galled to Action: Women in World War II

1 hour Rochelle Gridley Email

Dozens of women from McLean County volunteered and enlisted with the U.S. Military during World War II. Women worked all over the United States, in Europe and the Pacific to defend their country in roles that were previously filled by men. Learn about the challenges they faced, the work they performed and where they served in this power point presentation.

Format: PowerPoint