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

Tuesday, August 3

History Reads Book Club- Ugly Prey: An Innocent Woman and the Death Sentence that Scandalized Jazz Age Chicago

Starts at 7:00 PM

All avid readers are welcome to join the Museum and Bloomington Public Library on Tuesday, August 3 at 7:00 p.m. for the third installment of the History Reads Book Club for 2021. We will meet online via Zoom to discuss Ugly Prey: An Innocent Woman and the Death Sentence that Scandalized Jazz Age Chicago by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi. Visit to register for this free, online discussion.

An Italian immigrant who spoke little English and struggled to scrape together a living on her primitive family farm outside Chicago, Sabella Nitti was arrested in 1923 for the murder of her missing husband. Within two months, she was found guilty and became the first woman ever sentenced to hang in Chicago. Journalist Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi leads readers through Sabella’s sensational case, showing how, with no evidence and no witnesses, she was the target of an obsessed deputy sheriff and the victim of a faulty legal system. She was also—to the men who convicted her and the reporters fixated on her—ugly. For that unforgiveable crime, the media painted her as a hideous, dirty, and unpredictable immigrant, almost an animal.

Lucchesi brings to life the sights and sounds of 1920s Chicago—its then-rural outskirts, downtown halls of power, and headline-making crimes and trials, including those of two other women (who would inspire the musical and film Chicago) also accused of killing the men in their lives. But Sabella’s fellow inmates Beulah and Belva were beautiful, charmed the all-male juries, and were quickly acquitted, raising doubts among many Chicagoans about the fairness of the “poor ugly immigrant’s” conviction.

Featuring an ambitious and ruthless journalist who helped demonize Sabella through her reports, and the brilliant, beautiful, twenty-three-year-old lawyer who helped humanize her with a jailhouse makeover, Ugly Prey is not just a page-turning courtroom drama but also a thought-provoking look at the intersection of gender, ethnicity, class, and the American justice system.

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

Tuesday, August 10

Breaking Bread in McLean County- Hot Dog! It Could be Wurst: German Cookery

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, West Bloomington Revitalization Project, Mennonite Church of Normal, and First United Methodist Church together creating a supportive environment for immigrants to McLean County), Design Streak at Illinois State University, and Heartland Community College 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, emphasizing shared elements including food, family, tradition, trauma, and exchange; 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 Greg Koos, local historian and Executive Director Emeritus of the McLean County Museum of History, as he explores the German-American experience
in McLean County. To register, go to

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

Saturday, August 14

Knit In at the David Davis Mansion Knit-In

Starts at 10:00 AM
1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington, Illinois 61701

All Knitters and Crocheters are invited to participate in a socially distant, outdoor Knit In on the beautiful grounds of the David Davis Mansion on Saturday, August 14 from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Registration is required. Please click this link to fill out the google form to sign up to participate: This quarter’s feature charity item to be made are Pet Blankets, which will be donated to local animal shelters. Participants can bring completed blankets to the event if they cannot attend, completed items can be dropped off at the Museum after August 1.

The Museum follows all health and safety guidelines according to the Restore Illinois Phased Plan for Reopening and Illinois State Mandates.Participants will be required to answer health screening questions upon their arrival.

Social distancing of at least six feet will be required.  Individuals who are not vaccinated must wear a face masks at all times unless you are seated in your chair and maintaining social distance. If you leave your chair for any reason, you must wear your face mask per State of Illinois Restore Illinois plan.

Capacity for this event is limited to 50 people. Participants must bring their own lawn chair and can bring a beverage. No food or beverages will be provided.Public restrooms will be available.

**PLEASE NOTE** If Covid 19 cases continue to rise, guidelines become more restrictive, or our zone is forced to go back to an earlier Phase of the Restore Illinois Plan, this event will be canceled.

For questions or more information, please contact the Education Department at the Museum at

Tuesday, August 31

Zoom Vibrant, Resilient, Still Here: Contemporary Native Americans in Illinois

Starts at 6:30 PM

The Museum is pleased to welcome Pam Silas, Associate Director, outreach and engagement for Northwestern University, Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, who will present a program that explores contemporary Native Americans living in Illinois today. This free, zoom webinar, sponsored by Illinois Humanities, will be held on Tuesday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m.

The presentation will explore issues about how the public learns about and sees Native Americans and some of the misconceptions, demographic data, topical issues that the community has prioritized, common values, opportunities to engage, and resources such as readings, and institutions and community organizations where participants can learn more will be shared.

Over the past 25 years, Silas has been a recognized Native American leader. She has successfully led regional and national Native American and other non-profit organizations. Silas has a Bachelors in Science in Economics from DePaul University and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE). An enrolled member of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin and descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, her career experience is embedded with her connections and trainings influenced by Native culture and community. Silas was recently appointed by Governor Pritzker to serve on the newly created Illinois, Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council and has provided volunteer leadership to other public and tribal initiatives, including Chicago’s Low Income Housing Trust Fund, Council on Women, Community Development Advisory Council, Working Mother Magazine, Multicultural Women’s Initiative the Menominee Indian Tribal Gaming Commission.

To register for this free, zoom webinar, follow this link . For more information or questions, please contact the Education Department at

Illinois Humanities is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly [through the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA)], as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by speakers, program participants, or audiences do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH, Illinois Humanities, IACA, our partnering organizations, or our funders.