Illinois State Museum

Partner Address: 

502 South Spring Springfield, IL

City, State, Zip: 

Springfield, IL

Partner Phone: 

(217) 782-7386

Mazon Creek Deposits

Image of Mazon Creek plant fossils.
This unique assemblage of fossil flora and fauna gets its name from the Mazon (pronounced Muh-zon) Creek (River) that serves as a tributary to the Illinois River in northeast Illinois. A portion of the fossil beds are now within the Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area, and fossil collecting is allowed by permit. Not only do the fossils help scientists reconstruct past climates and species composition in Illinois (at that time the state was located much closer to the equator), but they are also starkly beautiful.

Telephone

Image of Telephone made by Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company, 1906.
This phone was made by the Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company of Chicago in 1906. Known as the Microphone 1, this model was the first telephone in the United States to integrate a transmitter and a receiver into a single handset. Between 1900 and 1910, the number of telephones in use in the United States went from 600,000 to 5.8 million.

Prie Dieu

Image of prie dieu, or prayer kneeler, ca. 1775
This prie dieu, or prayer kneeler, was used by French settlers in the Illinois territory during the late 18th century. During prayer, individuals would kneel on the bottom platform and rest their elbows or place books on the upper shelf. The Roman Catholic Church played a dominant role in the lives of these settlers, who celebrated 27 religious holidays throughout the year.

Hand-Colored “Frolics of Youth” Plate

Image of hand-colored "Frolics of Youth" plate.
The scene in this child’s plate may have been hand colored by a child of less than 10 years old. Children typically started working at the potteries in Staffordshire, England, by the age eight, but some started as young as five or six years old.

Porcelain “China” Doll Head

Image of porcelain doll head.
Like the detailed Staffordshire transfer print plates used for dining, residents on the Illinois frontier also imported other goods from Europe, including toys. This porcelain doll head, along with other pieces, was recovered from a cistern at the Huggins Farmstead Site in Perry County.

New Philadelphia Plate Fragment

Image of plate fragment recovered from excavations at New Philadelphia, an African-American settlement in western Illinois.
This plate fragment came from the home site of Alexander Clark, an African American blacksmith living in New Philadelphia, Illinois, in the mid-1800s. It shows a portion of a bridge and person bridling a horse, an image that can also be found near the center of a transfer print plate with the image “Rural Scenery.”

New Philadelphia Plate Fragment

Image of plate fragment recovered from excavations at New Philadelphia, an African-American settlement in western Illinois.
Rarely are completely intact artifacts found during archaeological explorations. It is up to archaeologists and anthropologists to use their knowledge and skill to find the missing pieces in order to tell the rest of the story. This plate fragment was recovered from excavations at New Philadelphia, an African American settlement in western Illinois founded by Free Frank McWhorter, a former slave.

Barack Obama

Image of Barack Obama, photograph, Dawoud Bey, 2007
Dawoud Bey
(b. 1953, Queens, NY)
Barack Obama
2007
Archival pigment print
2016.021.003, Gift of Chuck Thurow
Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was also the first African American to assume the presidency. Previously, Obama served in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 until 2004 and then as United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.

Congressman Oscar de Priest

Image of Congressman Oscar de Priest, oil painting, Bernard Goss, 1963

Bernard Goss (1913-1966:  b. Sedalia, MS - d. Chicago, IL)

Congressman Oscar de Priest 1963

Oil on canvas

1971.005.211, Transfer from the Illinois State Historical Library

This is a portrait of Congressman Oscar de Priest (1871-1951), an outspoken critic of the segregation of minorities in government. De Priest was not the first African American to serve in congress, but he was the first in the 20th century and the single minority voice for three decades. De Priest understood that he represented not only his Chicago district but the entire black population of the United States. 

John Jones Fights for the Repeal of the Black Code

Image of John Jones Fights for the Repeal of the Black Code, oil painting, Alfred Jackson Tyler, 1963
Alfred Jackson Tyler
(1933-2011, b. Chicago IL, d. Chicago IL)
John Jones Fights for the Repeal of the Black Code
1963
oil on canvas
1971.5/208, property transfer from the State Historical Library
When Illinois entered the Union in 1818 as a free state, vestiges of slavery still existed, and African Americans lived under restrictive laws that limited their freedom. These laws, commonly called the Black Code, denied them the right to vote, assemble in groups, testify in court, or bear arms.

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