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

Community History

A Village Grows - Fifty Years of Life in Elmwood Park browse-->>

Local history images of Elmwood Park

Algonquin & Lake in the Hills Local History browse-->>

The local history of Algonquin and Lake in the Hills

Arlington Heights History browse-->>

Local history images of Arlington Heights

Arlington Heights People & Places browse-->>

Historical images of Arlington Heights people and places.

Arthur, Once Upon a Time - Local History Images of Arthur browse-->>

The community of Arthur, Illinois has a rich history, some of which has been recorded in the photographs in this collection. The first settlement of Arthur began about 1850. At that time, much of the area was swampland. Amish settlers arrived in 1865 and the Arthur area is now home to the largest Amish settlement in Illinois. In 1870 the railroad was built to go across "The Big Slough", from Paris to Decatur, Illinois and in 1872 the building of Arthur began in earnest. By 1873 there were thirty dwellings in this new town, in addition to a large store, drug store, church, meeting hall, blacksmith shop and three grain offices - all doing business in Arthur.

The photographs in this collection depict everyday sights from the early 1900's to the middle of the century. One interesting series of photographs depicts the paving of Vine Street with brick, at a cost of $30,000 - a considerable sum in 1907. Many of the photographs in this collection are made available through the generosity of Mr. Noel C. Dicks. Mr. Dicks, a local pharmacist and owner of Dick's Pharmacy from 1960 to 1995, began collecting photographs of pharmacists and physicians who had practiced in Arthur. This collection sparked his interest in the history of the town. Due to the contributions of many local people his collection now consists of thousands of photographs, glass negatives, and other items of local interest.

Bloomington-Normal Black History Project browse-->>

The Bloomington-Normal Black History Project was founded in 1982 and its collections span the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection contains photographs, portraits, booklets, articles, and photocopies related to club organizations and churches of the local Black community. In 1989, the Black History Project was affiliated with the McLean County Historical Society, which now serves as a repository for the project's collections.

For more information about this project visit this link at the McLean County Museum of History site.

Cary Area History browse-->>

The collection includes Cary area historical photos, Cary Cemetery gravestone photos, and Cary Area Library historical photos. If you have any questions or comments please email us: carylibrary@gmail.com.

Cherry Valley Local History Collection browse-->>

The history of Cherry Valley in many ways typifies that of a small, mid-nineteenth century Illinois town. Its establishment in 1835, its mill on the Kishwaukee River, the coming of the railroad in 1852, its schools, businesses, civic organizations, and pioneer families - all the strands weave a fabric of heritage that provides the present foundation and civic character of Cherry Valley. Included in this collection is a document created by the Cherry Valley Bicentennial Committee, "Cherry Valley: Our Memories are Warm". This committee collected photographs, written histories and oral histories from village and area residents.

Chicago Ridge Online History Collection browse-->>

Chicago Ridge Public Library’s Online History Collection contains images and texts related to the people and places unique to the history of the village of Chicago Ridge, Illinois. The collection includes photographs, pamphlets, newsletters, brochures, scrapbook pages, interviews, narratives, artwork, and clippings from the Chicago Ridge Citizen Newspaper, as well as anniversary editions of The Reporter Newspaper. The materials digitized are either owned by the library or digitized with the permission of the owner. Chicago Ridge Public Library’s mission includes collecting, preserving, and providing access to the history of the village and its residents.

Digitization of this collection was developed pursuant to a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant awarded by the Illinois State Library, an Office of the Secretary of State using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act .

Chicago Ridge Online History Collection browse-->>

Chicago Ridge Public Library’s Online History Collection contains images and texts related to the people and places unique to the history of the village of Chicago Ridge, Illinois. The collection includes photographs, pamphlets, newsletters, brochures, scrapbook pages, interviews, narratives, artwork, and clippings from the Chicago Ridge Citizen Newspaper, as well as anniversary editions of The Reporter Newspaper. The materials digitized are either owned by the library or digitized with the permission of the owner. Chicago Ridge Public Library’s mission includes collecting, preserving, and providing access to the history of the village and its residents.

Deerfield Area History browse-->>

Local history images of Deerfield.

Des Plaines Area History browse-->>

Local history images of Des Plaines.

DeWitt County World War I Collection browse-->>

Letters and service records of men and women of DeWitt County who served in World War I.

Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect  browse-->>

This collection includes photographs and descriptions of artifacts and large print items documenting the growth and transformation of the Mount Prospect area from the late 19th to late 20th century. These items reflect the agricultural, business, church and governmental activities of the villages' residents. The artifacts are from the collections of the Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Mount Prospect Public Library. This collection was made available by a grant from the office of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Eisenhower Public Library Archives browse-->>

Images of Eisenhower Public Library and military service in Vietnam.

Ela Area Historical Society Photograph Collection browse-->>

Local history images from the Lake Zurich area.

Elgin Area History browse-->>

Collection of photographs and postcards related to the history of the Elgin area. Includes topics such as Sears houses in the area, the tornado of 1920, the Elgin Watch factory, and the Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane.

Elgin History Museum Gylleck Photo Collection browse-->>

The Gylleck Photo Collection consists of about 3,500 black and white images of Elgin, Illinois from 1847 to the 1960s. Elmer Gylleck was a photographer in Elgin who purchased a large collection of glass plate negatives from the first photographer in Elgin and many other Elgin photographers.

He made 11 x 14 prints of many of the glass negatives as well as film negatives of the glass plates. He also made prints from his own photographs. The images in the collection highlight the Elgin National Watch Company, Elgin streetscapes, the Elgin Road Races, manufacturing, homes, schools, and general Elgin life. Gylleck mounted many of the images on matte board and they have notations pasted or written in ink on the back.

These notations give more details about the images.

Ella's Historical Collection browse-->>

From the time when the area was originally settled in the late 1830’s the district has been an inventive and progressive area. Towns have moved, car races have been organized, Lincoln Logs were produced and life has continued to move forward. The Historical Collection contains artifacts, documents, newspapers, books and pamphlets that chronicle the history of the communities the library serves

Ella's Historical Collection- Grand Army of the Republic, Post 453 browse-->>

The Grand Army of the Republic was an organization for Civil War Veterans that ran from 1866 until the death of its last member in 1956. Locally the organization was extremely active and the extensive collection of records left in the care of the library provides a first-hand account of the period and the people that shaped it.

Ella's Historical Collection-Images browse-->>

Images have been donated to the library as one of the single best methods of documenting the history of the communities within the library’s district. The collection of images today reflects aspects of everyday life from the communities of Hampshire, Burlington, Pingree Grove, Stark’s Corner as well as the outlying areas and other communities both past and present.

Ethnic Heritage Museum browse-->>

Local history images from the Rockford area.

Evanston Area History browse-->>

Local history images from the Evanston area.

Galena Area Historic Photos browse-->>

The city of Galena, Illinois has a wealth of history. The Galena Public Library's Historical Collection works to preserve and share that history. The photographs in this collection range from portraits and views from the mid to late 19th century to photos of disasters and other events from the late 20th century. For more information, please contact The Galena Public Library at 815.777.0200 or by emailing info@galenalibrary.org.

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.

Geneseo History browse-->>

Various historical images of Geneseo and Henry County.

Glencoe History browse-->>

Local history images of Glencoe.

Glenview Area History browse-->>

Local history images of Glenview.

Henderson County Historical Society Museum browse-->>

The Museum contains collections in frontier life, the development of an emerging agricultural economy, one-room prairie schoolhouses, the impact of both World Wars on rural Illinois, and the westward migration of the American population during the 19th century. The collection of early 20th century home, school and working life includes a complete blacksmithing shop and one-room schoolhouse.

Highland Park History browse-->>

Highland Park was incorporated in 1869. Images in this collection record the community’s development.

Historic Champaign County - Neighborhoods and Homes browse-->>

Images of historic homes in Champaign County.

Historic Maps of Aurora browse-->>

The historic maps in this collection represent a unique historical resource. These maps show the physical changes and growth, over time, of Aurora. They also show changes in the city's political boundaries such as ward changes, street names, and, in some cases, building and business locations. Maps in this collection include:

1860 map of Kane County - this map is one of the earliest owned by the Aurora Historical Society and may be the earliest extant map of Kane County.

Aurora city maps dated 1859, 1868, 1872, 1876, 1884, and 1891 - these maps show the growth and development of Aurora, including street name and ward boundary changes.

"Aerial view" maps of Aurora, 1867 and 1882 - detailed artists' renderings showing streets, houses, and buildings.

Histories of Park Ridge browse-->>

Two history books about Park Ridge, Illinois: The History of Park Ridge, 1841-1926 by the Park Ridge Community Church Circle copyright 1926, and A History of Park Ridge by Orvis Jordan copyright 1961.

Huntley Area Dairy and Agricultural History browse-->>

This collection was created by the Huntley Area Public Library Local History Department and includes digitized materials that are part of our local history collection. This collection highlights Huntley’s dairy and agricultural heritage. This is an ongoing project. If you have additional information pertaining to items in this collection, please contact the Huntley Library Local History Department at 847.669.5386.

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.

Huntley Area History browse-->>

This collection was created by the Huntley Area Public Library Local History Department and represents the first step in our initiative to digitize our collection. This is an ongoing project and we will be adding items continuously.

If you have additional information pertaining to items in this collection, please contact the Local History Department at 847.669.5386.

Huntley Area Newspapers browse-->>

The Huntley Farmside newspaper is featured in this digital collection from 1960 through 2000. The Farmside is a weekly Illinois newspaper providing news coverage on Huntley, Marengo, Union, and other local suburbs. High resolutions scans were made of the print archives of the Huntley Area Public Library with a grant awarded by the Illinois State Library (ISL), a Division of the Office of Secretary of State, using funds provided the by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

Itasca Community Library Historical Collection browse-->>

Experience the history of Itasca through historical photographs and images from the early days of the village in the mid-1890s through the 20th century.

Itasca Community Library People & Places browse-->>

Experience the history of Itasca through historical photographs and images from the early days of the village in the mid-1890s through the 20th century.

Itasca Fire Department browse-->>

This is a collection of photographs of equipment used by the Itasca Fire Department and people who worked at the Itasca Fire Department through the 20th century.

Itasca Railroad Depot & Museum browse-->>

Dr. Elijah Smith founded Itasca and donated his own land for the railroad right of way and the $400 to build the Itasca Depot in 1873. The Itasca Depot served as the Itasca train station from 1873-1976.

In 1976, a new station was built directly next to the original. Once the new station was completed, the 103 year-old station was slated to be demolished. The Itasca Historical Society rallied and saved the depot from this fate. It was moved on December 6, 1976, down Irving Park Road 864 feet to its current location. Since then it has served at the Itasca Historical Depot Museum.

Kewanee and Wethersfield Yearbooks browse-->>

Kewanee Public Library District was awarded an LSTA FY09 Digital Imaging grant. Thanks to this funding the library was able to digitize 162 volumes of both Kewanee and Wethersfield high schools entire collections of yearbooks dated from 1904 up to 2008. Due to grant restrictions each year after 2002 will be uploaded and added one at a time. The "PictureIt! Global Gallery" digital imaging grant has created worldwide access to a collection that was once available only to library visitors.

Lake County Materials browse-->>

The Lake County History Archives provides access to primary and secondary source materials documenting the history of Lake County, Illinois.

The online collections include: Civil War era letters, diaries, and photographs from the Minto Family, 1918 school histories written by 7th and 8th grade students in celebration of the Illinois Centennial, World War II pamphlets, sheet music, photographs taken by Gordon Ray of Diamond Lake circa 1908 – 1945, and The Rays homespun newsletter produced from 1943 to 1946 by Lloyd Ray of Diamond Lake.

Libertyville History browse-->>

Enjoy selected items from the archives of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society, including postcards and photographs of early Libertyville, telephone books, wedding dresses, and mail order houses.

Lisle Area History browse-->>

Images of the community history of Lisle

Midway Village & Museum Center browse-->>

In 1968, Midway Village Museum was organized for the purpose of collecting, preserving and interpreting the history of the Rockford area. This collection contains images from their collections.

Mount Prospect History browse-->>

This collection includes items related to the history of the village of Mount Prospect and some of the surrounding area. Businesses, churches, government agencies, organizations, residents, and schools are represented by photographs, newspaper clippings, oral histories, documents and ephemera. Most of the items are from the Mount Prospect Historical Society but items from the collections of the Mount Prospect Public Library and other area groups are also included.

Mount Prospect Library History browse-->>

The Mount Prospect Public Library collection includes documents, photographs, and ephemera related to the history and development of the Mount Prospect Public Library from the 1930s to the present. Among these are photographs of each the building the Library has used and the contents of the cornerstone from the first permanent library home built in 1950. Most of the materials are from the archives and local history files of the Mount Prospect Public Library.

Naperville Heritage Collection browse-->>

The Naperville Heritage Collection features books, pictures and films held by Naper Settlement and the Naperville Public Library. The collection includes telephone directories covering most years from 1909-1960, City Council minutes from 1857-1935, church histories and a number of DuPage County and Naperville history books.

Settled by Captain Joseph Naper and his family in June 1831, Naperville, Illinois is the oldest city in DuPage County. It has grown from prairie wilderness to pioneer village to prosperous city through the efforts of its citizens, natural resources, transportation links, and proximity to the city of Chicago. Various celebrations of historic milestones have helped document the growth of the city and its progress. Naperville citizens have taken pride in their civic improvements, schools, libraries, and variety of businesses, churches, and community organizations, while watching their city become the fifth largest in Illinois.

For the historian and the genealogist, sources from the Naperville Heritage Collection will help identify land plats, farm families and their descendants, early businesses, development of the Centennial and Sesquicentennial memorial gifts to Naperville, the growth of city services and its three libraries, and listings of early telephone subscribers. Publications for the Home Coming in 1917 and the Centennial in 1931 provide timelines of important events and profiles of prominent citizens and leaders. Naperville celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2006, and looks back to the accomplishments of the Centennial of 1931 and Sesquicentennial of 1981 through books, pamphlets, slides, and films in this collection of sources. A history of DuPage County reveals the role of Joseph Naper and his associates in carving out DuPage County from Cook County in 1839 and establishing Naperville as its first county seat.

North Suburban Library District Local History Collection browse-->>

In 1994 the Friends of North Suburban Library formed a local history committee. Since that time they have collected scrapbooks, photographs, maps, yearbooks, diaries, letters and other memorabilia documenting the history of the communities that surround Rockford, Illinois: Loves Park, Machesney Park and Roscoe. Included in the collection presented here are images from the Harlem School District, Harlem Village in the late 19th century, and the Lusk collection of buildings. Photographs of farms and businesses that represent important developments in the community are also featured. The minutes of the Roscoe Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Roscoe Literary Club, in the late 19th century, afford a sense of the community at the time.

These are historical images of Loves Park, Machesney Park and Roscoe.

Oral Histories of Centralia browse-->>

In 1975 a project to commemorate the American Revolution Bicentennial was undertaken by the Centralia Public Library. The result is this collection of oral histories created by local residents who talk about their personal experiences and their family histories. Topics covered include: Education, railroading, oil industry, mining (including the story of the Number 5 mine disaster), agriculture, businesses, churches, and ethnic groups.

Orland Park History browse-->>

The digitized collection of photographs and texts are related to the Orland Park Library’s special collection, NASA archives and history of the Orland Park area. It includes topics such as Orland Park Community Guide in the area, Orland Park Community profile from the community development department, Village of Orland Park, NASA transfer bag, Replica Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper about NASA, Apollo 17 Pre-launch.

Park Forest -- An Illinois Planned Community browse-->>

Park Forest began in 1946 as a dream held by Carroll F. Sweet, Sr., to build a "G.I. Town" for returning veterans. Due to the lack of building during the Depression and World War II, the returning veterans and their young families faced a severe housing shortage. Carroll F. Sweet, Sr., introduced Nathan Manilow, a Chicago builder to Philip M. Klutznick, who was working in Washington D.C. as head of the Federal Public Housing Authority. Both men thought the dream was worth bringing to reality. The result was the first post-World War II planned community to include a shopping center and all of the amenities of modern life built in to the original plan. The plan was turned in to FHA in November 1946. Move-ins began in August 1948. On February 1, 1949, at the suggestion of the builders, Park Forest was incorporated as a village. By October 1949, 3,010 rental units had been completed. Construction of "For Sale" homes was begun by 1950.

Peoria Postcards browse-->>

Postcards of images of Peoria.

Pieces of Park Ridge browse-->>

Park Ridge’s history includes everyone from government to businesses to the citizens themselves. In the library’s Heritage Room, we already had some photographs and papers, but we knew it was just a small piece of the historical puzzle. We contacted City Hall, the Fire Department, and the Historical Society to begin pulling together this digital collection. Then we broadened the collection’s range to include local churches, the Youth Campus, and the Pickwick Theatre. Finally, through an article in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate newspaper, we called upon the local businesses and people of Park Ridge to share their items with us. Making this incredible collection available allows people access to items they might have had trouble gathering on their own, might never have known existed, or might never have gotten to see or handle due to some items’ fragile conditions. The Library greatly appreciates the willingness of private donors to make their items available. The Park Ridge Juniors Foundation and the Park Ridge Community Bank provided funding for this project.

Plainfield Public Library District browse-->>

Items represent collections within the Plainfield Historical Society, Plainfield Public Library, Shorewood-Troy Public Library District, and the Will County Recorder of Deeds office and include index books, plat atlases, glass plate negatives and newspapers spanning 125 years of Plainfield and Will County history from the 1830s to the 1950s. The Will County Grantor/Grantee indexes comprise over 250,000 entries of property transactions from 1836-1885. Original records are held at the Will County Recorder of Deeds Office in Joliet, Illinois.

Prospect Heights Community Newsletters browse-->>

Community Newsletters from Prospect Heights.

Pumpkins, Parades and Pies- Eureka's Pumpkin Festival Past, 1939 - 1961 browse-->>

The Eureka Pumpkin Festival, which was held in Eureka between 1939 and 1961, was a community event to support local businesses, promote tourism, and honor Eureka's Libby, McNeil, and Libby canning factory. The festival was immensely popular and regularly averaged at least 50,000 attendees from all over Illinois and the Midwest. In 1947 film star and Eureka College alumnus Ronald Reagan and Illinois Governor Dwight Green attended, drawing national attention and record crowds. This digital collection features photographs, memorabilia and other items pertaining to the festival from various public and private collections.

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.

Quincy Area Historic Photo Collection browse-->>

The Quincy Area Historic Photo Collection includes more than three thousand historical images covering more than a century of life in the Quincy area. The collection includes images of people, businesses, churches, entertainment, government, homes, and street scenes from the 1830s forward.

The photo collection documents a growing city that played a significant role in Illinois history. Quincy was first settled by John Wood in 1821, and became the county seat when Adams County was formed in 1825. Quincy gave refuge to Mormons during the winter of 1838-1839, and local abolitionists helped slaves on the Underground Railroad. Quincy was the site of the sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate during the Senate race of 1858.

By 1870, Quincy had become the second largest city in Illinois with a population of 24,000. Many businesses and industries had their start in Quincy such as Collins Plow Company, Comstock-Castle Stove Company, E.M. Miller Carriage Company, Gardner Denver Incorporated, Gates Radio Company, Irwin Paper Company, and Moorman Manufacturing Company. The R.G. Dun & Co.’s official report of June 29, 1889 stated, “That Quincy manufactures more steam governors, more omnibuses, more show cases and more hay presses than any other one city in America is a fact worthy of note.” Robert W. Gardener’s 1860 invention harnessing steam, led to the Gardner Governor Company, now Gardner Denver.

The Quincy of today, which was named an All-American City in 1963 and again in 1985, is a modern and progressive industrial city in the heart of a large and fertile agricultural area. Present manufacturers include: electronic equipment, air compressors, industrial pumps, mining and oil drilling equipment, stoves, wheels, truck and trailer bodies, mineral foods and stock preparations, as well as vegetable oils and various dairy products.

The initial 2008 project was made possible by a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, administered through a competitive grant program by the Illinois State Library.

Remembering the Houses of Western Springs browse-->>

Remembering the Houses of Western Springs is a collection of photographs of 19th century houses, with dates and some background information on each house. The Western Springs Historical Society took the photographs in 1977, and Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs digitized them in 2005.

Western Springs is a suburb of Chicago located on the western edge of Cook County. The community was first settled in 1870s, and the village was incorporated in 1886. Being located along the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, the village became an affordable location for the homes of Chicago-bound commuters. The village was in many ways typical of Chicago suburbs that developed in the late 19th and early 20th century. Remarkably, many houses built in that era survive.

The photographs may also be found in the book Western Springs: 19th Century Houses and Their Owners, 1978.

For more information about this project visit this link at the Western Springs History site.

Rockford Public Library browse-->>

Historical images from Rockford, Illinois.

Roselle Local History Digital Archive - Working Together; Looking at Our Past browse-->>

Partnering with the Roselle History Museum, the Roselle Public Library digitized historical artifacts that illustrate the growth and development of Roselle, Illinois.

The History Museum maintains a large collection of original photographs and documents. Digitizing the collection not only serves to preserve it, but also to organize and index it. In addition, digitizing makes it possible to present the collection on the Internet as a searchable database, accessible to anyone with a computer and Internet access.

The images in this collection were digitized using the "best practices" suggested by the Illinois State Library. The History Museum and the Library each retain high quality archival copies of all of the images presented in this database.

Skokie Fire Department History Project browse-->>

Photographs, documents, and artifacts relate the history of the Skokie Fire Department.

Skokie History Project browse-->>

Photographs, maps, business cards, advertisements, and architectural drawings document the history of Niles Center and Skokie from the early 1800s to the 1990s.

Skokie's Attempted Nazi March Archive browse-->>

Newspaper articles, letters, and audio recordings document the attempt of the National Socialist Party of America (Nazis) to march in Skokie in 1978.

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.

St. Charles History -- Then and Now browse-->>

The St. Charles Public Library (SCPL) digital collection chronicles the events and people that have shaped the history of St. Charles, IL from the early 1800s to the present. Materials include old maps (including the city of St. Charles, St. Charles Township and Campton Township), militia records, biographies, photographs, diaries and other materials from the Library's archived collection.

Many of the files are compilations of clippings taken over the years from local newspapers covering topics of interest such as the school district, police department, local businesses and more. Although the city of St. Charles is the main focus of the collection, some information about the surrounding Fox Valley area and Kane County is also included. Digitization and addition of materials to the collection is on-going.

To improve your search, try using both subjects (such as "Business and Industry") as well as proper names. Some larger works also include separate indexes which have also been digitized and provide a good starting point. In addition, you might like to visit the "Local History" page of the St. Charles Public Library web site (http://www.stcharleslibrary.org/node/342) for more information about local historic buildings as well as other resources that are available at the Library.

Sterling and Rock Falls Local History Collection browse-->>

Local history images from the Sterling Public Library collection.

Tinker Swiss Cottage browse-->>

Tinker Swiss Cottage is a historic house museum located in the heart of Rockford, Illinois. The museum complex contains the historic house museum, barn, and carriage house from the Tinker family. In addition, the property is the home of the founding site of Rockford and contains a Pre-Columbian Native American conical mound.

Towanda District Library -- Towanda Area Historical Collection browse-->>

The Towanda District Library and the Towanda Area Historical Society collaborated on this project to digitize and make available Towanda area historical and cultural materials from the collection of the Towanda Area Historical Society. The focus of the digital collection is in these areas: historical buildings and homes; Towanda’s Main Street through the years; early rural schools of the Towanda area; oral and written family and personal stories. The collection contains: photographs; maps; family and person written histories; newspaper clippings; organization and business histories; postcards and more.

Wheaton Veterans’ Reflections browse-->>

This is a collection of photographs and stories submitted for the project “Reflections Framed: A Celebration of Military Service Past and Present.” Veterans and family or friends with a connection to Wheaton, Illinois share a photo and story that describes a military memory or experience. Oral histories from veterans who agreed to create them are included.

Wheeling and Buffalo Grove History browse-->>

Local history images of the towns of Buffalo Grove and Wheeling

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.)

Wilmette History browse-->>

The Wilmette Public Library history site displays photographs, letters, and documents to illustrate the history of the village of Wilmette and New Trier Township in Cook County, Illinois, U.S.A. A special focus of the collection is the history of the Wilmette Public Library.

Woodstock Local History browse-->>

Community history images from the city of Woodstock