This decorative wheat shaft was placed on the grave of James Franklin Moss (1825-1904), a farmer from Jersey County. Wheat is a typical motif of mourning art. It symbolizes the divine harvest of death and the resurrection of the soul.
The phonograph had a profound impact on the way Americans experienced music. Prior to its invention, the only way to hear music was when it was played or sung live. Music was typically played in group settings, where all were welcome, and even expected, to sing along, and the melody was never played exactly the same way twice. The phonograph allowed people to listen to the songs they wanted to hear, when they wanted to hear them, and if they wanted to, they could even listen to them alone.
This silver spoon belonged to Frances Todd Wallace, sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. It was purchased from Chatterton’s Jewelry Store in Springfield (the same place where Abraham Lincoln bought Mary’s wedding ring). The spoon was eventually donated to the Illinois State Museum by Frances’s great-granddaughter.
This hand-crank sewing machine was used by Anna Haight Kipp DeGroff at her farmhouse in Kendall County during the 1860s. It is a New England style machine, manufactured by Charles Raymond. Small, light, and relatively inexpensive, this machine was a popular alternative to the larger, more expensive machines sold by Singer and Howe.
Nancy Batchelder wore this dress when she married David Fryxell on May 1, 1982. It was made from her father's World War II silk parachute. Walter Batchelder was hospitalized and unable to attend his daughter’s wedding, so Nancy made the dress as a tribute to him and as a way of having her father represented on her big day.
These three wax figurines are representatives from a collection of 129 figurines depicting outstanding women in Illinois history. They were created by Minna Schmidt and donated to the Illinois State Historical Library in 1929. Harriet Sanger Pullman, left, was a socialite who supported hospitals, libraries, and schools. Julia Dent Grant, center, was the loving wife of Ulysses S. Grant. Elizabeth Byerly Bragdon, right, was a patron of music and the arts.
This heavy, elaborately embellished dress comes straight out of Jazz Age Paris, where Anna King purchased it in 1926. Flapper dresses like these were specifically designed for dancing, as movement accentuates the dress.
This plate was produced by James & Ralph Clews in Staffordshire. Their ceramics were commonplace on the American frontier. The image in the center of the plate is a distant view of Rochester Castle, on the River Medway, east of London. Portions of the castle date to the 11th century. English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner depicted the castle in his work Rochester Castle From The River, painted circa 1793.
In 1890, lead architect Daniel Burnham took on the impossible task of designing a model city in Jackson Park in Chicago for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (also known as the Columbian Exposition, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the New World). The trouble was, architects and builders had just over two years to complete the monumental task. This baluster, recovered in archaeological excavations, is from a roof balustrade on the Ohio Building. The White City, as the collection of Fair buildings was known, was built to last as long as the fair (about six months).
In the early 1800s, potteries in the Staffordshire region of England were becoming more and more dependent on the American market at a time when relations between the two nations were sliding towards war. In the months leading up to the War of 1812, trade was suspended, and a financial crisis ensued that, according to pottery owner Ralph Stevenson, left one-third of pottery workers unemployed and 35 businesses shuttered. His business had just opened in 1810.