Illinois State Museum

Partner Address: 

502 South Spring Springfield, IL

City, State, Zip: 

Springfield, IL

Partner Phone: 

(217) 782-7386

Lakeside Classics

Image of Lakeside Classics book series.
Lakeside Classics are books published by R.R. Donnelley & Sons that feature first-person narratives of American history. Since 1903, the books have been released every Christmas, a practice that continues today. However, the books are not sold to the public but instead have been given to employees and others associated with the company.

Ceremonial Mask

Image of carved wood African ceremonial mask.
This beautiful, carved wood ceremonial mask is just over four feet tall and is worn over the head and shoulders. It was acquired by Illinois State University in 1973 and then was transferred to the Illinois State Museum in 2001.

Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris)

Image of Eastern Wild Turkey taxidermy mount.
The bird that was center stage at the first Thanksgiving, and Benjamin Franklin’s choice to be our national symbol, almost disappeared from Illinois forever. Like many other species of game animals, from beaver to otters to White-tailed Deer, the Eastern Wild Turkey was almost gone from the state in the early 1900s. Hunting seasons were closed in 1903, but it was almost a case of “too little, too late.” It took the dedicated efforts of conservationists to re-establish the Eastern Wild Turkey in Illinois. Starting in the late 1950s, thousands of birds were captured in other states and relocated to Illinois in order to bolster populations.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Image of Monarch (left) and Viceroy butterflies.
The colorful Monarch butterfly, the State Insect of Illinois, is widely distributed across eastern and central North America down to Mexico and along the west coast of the United States. Its caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweeds (Asclepias sp.), and the milky sap in the plant leaves gives Monarch caterpillars and adults a bitter taste. The bright colors of the adults and caterpillars serve as a warning to potential predators.

Wedding dress

Image of wedding dress worn by Illinois First Lady Catherine Yates.
Sixteen-year-old Catherine Geers wore this dress when she married a young lawyer named Richard Yates in Jacksonville on July 9, 1839. The couple had five children, though one died in infancy, and one was struck by lightning and killed at age 11. 

World's Columbian Exposition Quilt

Image of Columbian Exposition crazy quilt.

Leonard F. Mitchell
silk, velvet, satin, brocade
Gift of Peggy L. Gurach and Lynn Guarch-Pardo, 2004.201

This crazy quilt was created to commemorate the World’s Columbian Exposition, which was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas. An image of Columbus occupies the center of the quilt. Below him are images of Bertha Palmer, one of the Fair’s organizers; George Washington; an unidentified woman; President Grover Cleveland, who opened the fair on May 1, 1893; and the Duke of Veragua of Spain, the only living descendant of Christopher Columbus at the time.

Stag-Moose Discovery More Than 10,000 Years Old

Image of the main beam of the antlers of an extinct Stag-Moose.
Most important discoveries are found after digging deep into the earth. One never thinks to look up. But that’s what happened when scientists drove by the Biddle Farm in northern Illinois and saw the large main beam of a set of antlers hanging in a garage. It was too big to be a deer or elk, so they stopped to take a look. What they discovered were antlers of an extinct Stag-Moose, an animal that died over 10,000 years ago. The family found the fossil while digging an irrigation pond years before but didn’t immediately recognize its significance. The family from Elburn donated the find to the Illinois State Museum in 1989.

Coal: The Foundation of a State

Image of coal mined in Illinois.
Coal has been mined in Illinois since before statehood. French explorers documented coal seams being exploited near Ottawa 350 years ago. The first record of coal being mined (or dug) by settlers in Illinois was in 1810. The formation of coal dates back much further, up to 350 million years ago during the Pennsylvanian Period. The state owes its vast coal reserves to now-extinct trees, ferns, and other plants that lived, died, and piled up in the coastal lowlands of the shallow seas that once covered much of the state. Dying plant matter accumulated and was preserved in water. Those deposits were later buried by sediment and eventually transformed by extreme heat and pressure into lignite and finally coal.

Augusta Margaret Linebarger’s Stroller

Image of child's stroller.
Augusta Margaret was born in 1917 to Harley and Lillian Linebarger of Edgar County. In 1920, she developed juvenile diabetes, for which there was no known treatment at the time. Unable to metabolize sugar, Augusta Margaret could not derive adequate nutrition from the food she ate. In an effort to prolong her life, her parents developed special menus for her and took her repeatedly to the hospital in Danville. Ultimately, a doctor wrote to them and told them that he could offer no hope for their little girl. As she grew too frail to walk, her parents took her out in this stroller.


Image of U.S. Model 1842 musket.

Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Mrs. Henry Delbridge, 1968.067.799057

Private Patrick Carroll carried this musket during the Civil War when he served in the 32nd Illinois Infantry Regiment. Carroll, a native of Ireland, was a 26-year-old blacksmith when he mustered into service at Camp Butler on December 31, 1861. He saw action at the battle of Shiloh and the siege of Corinth before being discharged for disability in August 1862. He returned home to Fayette County, married, fathered seven children, and died in 1901 at age 66.


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