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A service of the Illinois State Library and the Office of the Illinois Secretary of StateILLINOIS DIGITAL ARCHIVES

History Makers

Abraham Lincoln - Documents browse-->>

The Illinois State Library has a large collection of materials relating to the life, political career, and assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In addition to biographies of Lincoln this collection includes contemporary accounts of the assassination and the trial of the conspirators; descriptions of Lincoln’s funeral and the Lincoln National Monument; the restoration of New Salem; and Lincoln in Springfield.

Early Years—Ernest and Marcelline Hemingway in Oak Park browse-->>

The Early Years—Ernest and Marcelline Hemingway in Oak Park is a collaboration between the Oak Park Public Library and the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. Images and artifacts include Ernest and his older sister Marcelline’s family, friends, and the communities that they grew up in. Documenting the first 19 years of Ernest’s and Marcelline’s lives, we can gain greater insight into Oak Park at the turn of the century through two of its own most famous residents.

Digitization of this collection was developed pursuant to a grant awarded by the Illinois State Library, a Department of the Office of Secretary of State using state grant funds.

Elisha Gray Reception and Banquet browse-->>

Elisha Gray was a resident of Highland Park, Illinois from 1871 until his death in 1901. An electrical engineer and inventor, Gray received more than 70 patents. He co-founded the Western Electric Company in 1872. Gray gave a public demonstration of the telephone at the Presbyterian Church in Highland Park in December 1874. On November 15, 1878, a banquet was held in Highland Park to honor Professor Gray, who many believed was the true inventor of the telephone. The Committee of Arrangements prepared a transcript of congratulatory remarks delivered at the event. The collection includes photographs of Professor Gray and his wife, and the Gray Electric Building, constructed in Highland Park in 1892.

Illinois State Library -- General Collection browse-->>

This collection includes full-text materials in numerous subject areas.

Lincoln and Lincoln-Related Documents from the Illinois State Archives browse-->>

The Illinois State Archives serves by law as the depository of public records of Illinois state and local governmental agencies. This collection consists of official state documents that relate to Abraham Lincoln or his family. They include records from Lincoln’s tenure in the General Assembly (1834-1841) and correspondence with various state officials and many of them were written by Lincoln himself.

Mining and Mother Jones in Mount Olive browse-->>

"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living", her words still inspire labor organizers, but who was Mother Jones? Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, known as the Miners' Angel, was once described by West Virginia District Attorney Reese Blizzard as "...the most dangerous woman in the world." She described herself in these words: "I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser." In reality, she was all of these things and more in her role as one of the foremost labor organizers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

She claimed to have been born in Cork, Ireland on May 1, 1830. Although a recent (2001) biography by Elliot Gorn states that she was actually born on August 7, 1837. It is unclear why she changed the date of her birth to make it earlier. In 1867, she lost her husband and children in a yellow fever epidemic and in 1871, she lost everything she owned in the great Chicago Fire. It was at this time that she became involved with the newly-formed Knights of Labor and began traveling around the country working for or with labor.

Her growing interest in labor union issues and radical politics led her to become active as a radical labor organizer. Some of the activities in which she was involved include: 1877, helped with the Pittsburgh railway strike; after 1890, became involved in the struggles of coal miners and became an organizer for the United Mine Workers; 1898, helped found the Social Democrat Party; 1899, organized the coalfields of Pennsylvania; 1905, was present at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.

This small collection includes photographs of mines and mine workers from Mount Olive as well as some Mother Jones memorabilia - including the letter she wrote to the miners of Mount Olive, requesting that "I hope it will be my consolation when I pass away to feel I sleep under the clay with those brave boys." Mother Jones died on November 30, 1930 and is buried in the Union Miners Cemetery at Mount Olive, Illinois. Her grave is near that of "those brave boys" she referred to - the victims of the Virden mine riot of 1898.

Morton Arboretum -- Sterling Morton Library browse-->>

Collections of the Sterling Morton Library at the Morton Arboretum

Remembering FDR browse-->>

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a lifelong sailor and former assistant secretary of the Navy, sent Winston Churchill a handwritten note, in which he included a quotation from an 1849 William Longfellow poem, “The Building of the Ship,” which began “Sail On, O Ship of State!” His use of a ship’s metaphor to describe the battle then being waged between Great Britain and Germany, and to fortify the spirits of the British, reflects his fascination with the sea, but also suggests the degree to which Roosevelt saw himself as a captain of his own ship of state. It is no accident, therefore, that during his presidency, companies mass produced images of Roosevelt at the helm, steering the American state. Imposed on clocks and lamp bases, Roosevelt’s image and figure reminded Americans that a strong leader would guide them through troubled seas.

Artifacts such as the ones in this collection, located in the Joseph M. Jacobs and Lowery Collections of FDR memorabilia at the Roosevelt University Library, illustrate the extraordinary popularity of America’s 32nd president. Through these artifacts, we see the way in which Franklin D. Roosevelt and New Deal liberalism influenced the public careers and private lives of Americans in Chicago and across the nation.

Skokie's Dr. Louise Klehm Archive browse-->>

Photographs, letters, and artifacts document the life and career of Dr. Louise Klehm, Skokie’s first woman doctor. Dr. Klehm graduated from medical school in 1902, interned at Jane Addam's Hull House, studied surgery in Berlin and Vienna, and finally came home to Skokie to practice medicine.

Vachel Lindsay Collection browse-->>

The Vachel Lindsay Collection is comprised largely of materials containing the published prose and poetry of Vachel Lindsay in formats such as posters, newspaper and magazine articles, booklets, pamphlets, magazines and books. Other items include newspaper and magazine articles that contain biographical information on Lindsay and his family, critiques of his work and memorials and tributes to Lindsay. This small collection of photographs include Lindsay, his family, Elizabeth Graham, the Lindsay Verse Speaking Choir, 1940 and his tombstone. Phonograph recordings of Lindsay reading his works and his son, Nicholas Cave Lindsay, reading his father's poems make up another part of the collection.

Two scrapbook albums put together by Frances "Fannie" Hamilton, the younger sister of Vachel's mother contain materials about Lindsay from 1914 to about 1930. The albums include poems, drawings, private publications, clippings about and by Lindsay, a lock of his hair and some photographs. Bound volumes of his work include The Tramp's Excuse, The Village Magazine first edition, The Village Magazine third and fourth editions, Vision Magazine, A Letter About My Four Programmes and a notebook kept by Joy Lindsay Blair, Vachel's younger sister.

These digital images, made available by the Sangamon Valley Collection at the Lincoln Library (Springfield), are of photographs from this collection.

William Hayes Papers browse-->>

The William Hayes Papers are primarily family letters written from 1830-1857. However, they also inlcude legal documents, business letters, and copies of "Andrew Borders vs. William Hayes," his 1844 civil trial at Picnkneyville for helping five Borders slaves escape to northern Illinois and the Illinois State Supreme Court trial which followed.

William Hayes was born on November 9, 1795, the son of Henry Hayes (1762-1823) and Mary Ann (Molly) Ferris(s). Little is known of his life prior to his marriage to Anna Johnston (1800-1861) on November 25, 1819. In 1825 he was a resident of Galway, New York. By 1826 he had "undertaken the farm for mother's and the girl's comfort." The mother mentioned here was probably Rachel Johnston, Anna's mother. The "girls" were Anna's half-sisters, Leah (1781-1843) and Jane (1792-1857) Cownover (variously spelled "Conover" and "Cowenhoven"). As early as 1826 William and Anna were receiving letters from her half-sister Ursula Taylor, to sell the farm and move her mother and sisters to Cleveland where she lived with her husband Charles. In 1829 William began receiving letters from Oliver Bannister, who had settled in Randolph County, Illinois, urging him to move to the Illinois country.

In late May of 1833 William, Anna, and their children (Mary Rachel, Margaret, Euphemia, William James, Isaac Henry, and Jane Ann) left their home in Galway and traveled to Cleveland to look over the land and visit with her half-sister, Ursula. Besides their large family, Anna's two half-sisters, Leah and Jane Cownover, also made the trip. In July of that same year, William left Cleveland, leaving the women and children behind, and went to Illinois to see if he liked it better than Ohio. Apparently he liked what he saw because in September 1833 he moved his family to Fort Clark, Illinois (present-day Peoria). While living in the Peoria area, William bought and sold land in northern Illinois. He seems to have been a land speculator. The Hayes family left Peoria in 1834 and settled in Randolph County. The reason given in one letter is that his wife had been sick with "the ague" for the entire year they lived in Peoria.

The first mention of William's work with the Underground Railroad occurs in a letter from his brother, James, in 1841. The following year on August 31, 1842, William helped five "indentured servants" (Susan Richardson - "Sukey", Hannah Morrison, and Sukey's children Jarrot, Harrison, and Anderson) escape from Randolph County. The five had "belonged" to Andrew Borders, a very wealthy and influential man who lived west of Sparta. The route the escapees traveled is not known, but by September 5, 1842 they had arrived in Farmington, Illinois. In February 1843 Andrew Borders sued William Hayes for aiding his servants in escaping and asked for $2500 in damages. The case was finally tried in April 1844 in Pinckneyville, Illinois. Hayes was found guilty and fined $300. He appealed the case to the Illinois Supreme Court which upheld the Perry County decision and refused to grant a new trial. A letter exists from 1845 that clearly indicates that William Hayes did not stop his involvement in the Underground Railroad. In 1848 a criminal charge was leveled against him and a Daniel Morrison for "harboring a slave" in Clinton County. This case never came to trail because William Hayes died intestate in 1849. His estate was probated in 1852. When the estate was finally settled, Anna Hayes received $118.25.

The documents in the Illinois Digital Archives website are only a portion of the letters written to William Hayes. Transcripts of the entire collection cam be found at the Sparta Public Library, Sparta, Illinois and the Knox College Library, Galesburg, Illinois. The entire story of Sukey, William Hayes, and Andrew Borders is told in the book Betwixt Two Suns: A True Tale of the Underground Raiload in Illinois by Carol Pirtle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2000.)