Illinois State Museum

Partner Address: 

502 South Spring Springfield, IL

City, State, Zip: 

Springfield, IL

Partner Phone: 

(217) 782-7386

Skywatcher

Image of sculpture by Marion Perkins, Skywatcher, 1948.

Skywatcher, c. 1948

artist: Marion Perkins; (1908 – 1961, b. Marche AK, d. Chicago IL)

Marble

26 ¼ x 4 ¼ x 22”, (66.7 x 10.8 x 55.9 cm)

2003.068, transfer from The Peace Museum, Chicago, from a prior gift of Roslyn Rosen Lund.

In 1916, at the age of 8, Marion Perkins moved from Arkansas to Chicago to live with his aunt, joining the ranks of over 500,000 African Americans who moved to Chicago from the south during a period now referred to as the Great Migration. He lived in Bronzeville, Chicago’s predominately African American neighborhood and home to many of its most outstanding writers and artists.

Toothpick and Case

image of bone toothpick and corncob case
When Elihu and Sophronia Thorpe moved to Illinois from New York in 1841, they brought this bone toothpick and corncob case with them. It had belonged to Sophronia’s grandfather, Alexander Osborn, who served in the Revolutionary War. According to family legend, Alexander had carved the toothpick and case while he was in camp, sometime around 1780.

Watch Chain

Image of watch chain.
This watch chain was made by James M. Daigh of Perry, Illinois, when he was mining gold in California in 1849. Daigh, a native of Virginia, had settled in Illinois during the 1820s and amassed more than 200 acres of land in Pike County.

Conch Shell

Image of conch shell slave call.
This queen conch shell’s tip was cut off to turn it into a horn.  It was used to call slaves in from the fields of a plantation outside Memphis, Tennessee. Private James H. Williams, of Petersburg, Illinois, acquired this shell at the close of the Civil War when he was serving in Company A of the 152nd Illinois Infantry. 

Naturalization Papers

Image of naturalization papers of German native Pangratz Boll.
These naturalization papers were issued to German native Pangratz Boll in 1860, granting him American citizenship. Boll immigrated to the United States in 1854 at age 28 with his wife and three children, one of whom died at sea on the voyage over. He eventually settled in Greenville, where he worked for a boot manufacturer until he was appointed postman in 1870 by President Grant.

The Colors of Birds

Image of Robert Ridgway's Color Standards and Nomenclature, 1912.
Combining science and art, ornithologist Robert Ridgway tried to bring scientific order to the description of the colors of birds. When he published this Color Standards and Nomenclature in 1912, it was actually his second version. The first one, Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists, published in 1886, included hand-colored plates.

Mammoth Versus Mastodon

Image of Mammoth, Mastadon tooth comparison.
When it comes to Mammoths and Mastodons, the difference is more than a matter of pronunciation. They are very different prehistoric animals with distinct evolutionary and natural histories. While Mammoths are close relatives of modern elephants, Mastodons are only distantly related to the others. Mammoths and Mastodons inhabited separate habitats during the Pleistocene Era (2.6 million to 12,000 years ago). They are often confused, and their scientific names don’t help matters much. The American Mastodon is Mammut americanum, while the Wooly Mammoth is known as Mammuthus primigenius. 

Duck Decoy

Image of duck decoy carved by Robert Elliston, ca. 1900.
This decoy of a mallard hen was carved by Robert Elliston (1847-1925), one of the earliest commercial decoy makers and widely considered to be the father of the Illinois River decoy carving tradition. In 1882, Elliston began creating lightweight, realistic decoys for the sportsman who visited the Undercliff Hotel in Putnam County, a popular hunting spot along the Illinois River flyway. His wife, Catherine, painted the ducks with realistic patterns that were soon copied by other painters.

Easel

Image of easel carved by Kate Baker, ca. 1880.
This home easel would have been used in a Victorian parlor to showcase paintings, drawings, prints, or other framed items. A functional piece of furniture, the easel is also a work of great artistry, elaborately hand-carved with stylized floral motifs.

Rocking Chair

Image of Windsor-style rocking chair that belonged to Conrad Will, namesake of Will County.
This Windsor-style rocking chair belonged to Conrad Will, a co-author of Illinois’ 1818 constitution and the namesake of Will County.

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