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200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

Tuesday, February 2

Zoom History Reads Book Club- Lincoln in the Bardo

Starts at 7:00 PM

All avid readers are welcome to join the Museum and Bloomington Public Library on Tuesday, February 2 at 7:00 p.m. for the first installment of the History Reads Book Club for 2021. We will meet online via Zoom to discuss Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Visit bit.ly/historyreads020221 to register for this free, online discussion.


February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown Cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

To request a copy of the book, please contact the Reference Desk at Bloomington Public library at 309-828-6093 or email reference@bloomingtonlibrary.org.

Tuesday, February 9

Breaking Bread in McLean County - It's All in the Salsa: Mexican Stories of McLean County

Starts at 6:00 PM

The Museum, in partnership with BN Welcoming (a coalition of the Immigration Project, Not In Our Town/Not In Our Schools, and West Bloomington Revitalization Project together creating a supportive environment for immigrants to McLean County), and Design Streak at Illinois State University, will present a 10-part program series exploring stories of migration, immigration, adaptation, assimilation, appropriation, preservation, contribution, and sustentation in McLean County. Breaking Bread in McLean County will highlight the shared and disparate experiences of local migrant communities from the Kickapoo to the Congolese, seeking to disrupt the historical chronology in order to promote a deeper understanding of the ways McLean County has traditionally treated its migrant communities.

Join Carolyn Nadeau, Byron S. Tucci Professor of Hispanic Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University, and Constantina Navarrete, owner of Taqueria El Porton in Bloomington, as they explore the Mexican American experience in McLean County. 

Programs will last approximately 1 hr with time reserved for Q&A. 

To register for this Zoom webinar, go to bit.ly/breakbread1

Thursday, February 11

Zoom Lunch and Learn: What Is Liberal Education and Why Does It Matter? Lunch & Learn

Starts at 12:10 PM

Join the Museum and Illinois Wesleyan University for the sixth Zoom Lunch and Learn of this season. S. Georgia Nugent, President of Illinois Wesleyan University, will speak about the effectiveness and contributions of private liberal arts colleges and universities and the importance of the liberal arts as fields of study.

Tuesday, February 16

Zoom Billy Sunday: The Baseball Evangelist

Starts at 6:30 PM

The Museum is pleased to present a virtual program with Craig Bishop who will present a webinar on his self-published book, Billy Sunday: The Baseball Evangelist, and share details about Sunday’s early life in Iowa, his athletic career, and his rise to fame as the most well-known evangelist in the United States in the early Twentieth century. This free, public program will be presented via Zoom on Tuesday, February 16 at 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time.

William Ashley Sunday was an American athlete who, after being a popular outfielder in baseball’s National League in the 1880s and early 1890s, he became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the Twentieth century.

Sunday was born into poverty near Ames, Iowa. His mother sent him and his older brother to the Soldier’s Orphans Home in Glenwood, Iowa, and then later to the Soldier’s Orphans’ Home in Davenport, Iowa. It was while living at these Homes that Sunday learned healthy habits and honed his physical skills that helped him become a good athlete. His speed and agility provided him the opportunity to play baseball in the major leagues for eight years (four of those with the Chicago White Stockings), where he was known as being an average hitter, and a good fielder known for his base running.

Sunday converted to evangelical Christianity in the late 1880s and left baseball for the Christian ministry in 1891. He gradually developed his skills at the pulpit in the Midwest and soon expanded throughout the entire nation. He was a driving force behind the campaign to ban alcohol, which culminated in the passage of the 18th Amendment, which established Prohibition. For the first 20 years of the Twentieth century, he “preached to millions, hobnobbed with U.S. presidents and titans of industry, and waged a tireless campaign against alcohol,” including a stop in Bloomington from December 27, 1907 through February 2, 1908.

Craig Bishop attended received a BA in history from Kansas State University and an MA in Society and Eastern European Studies from the University of Kansas. He has been involved in the Pilot Outreach jail ministry for the last 27 years and has served churches in various ways depending on their needs. Bishop began to study the life of Billy Sunday in 1998, and after many years of research, completed his book in 2016.

This program is free and open to the public. To register for this Zoom webinar, please click this link https://bit.ly/2XCt0SG. Questions? Please contact the Education Department at education@mchistory.org.