When American forces joined World War I, Kent Hagler of Springfield, Illinois, was desperate to join the military, but a childhood injury prevented him from serving. Undeterred, he joined the American Field Service in France as a volunteer ambulance driver on July 17, 1917. He wore this helmet throughout his time in France.
This jet mourning brooch was purchased by Sally Logan Lamon in Washington D.C. during the 1860s, possibly in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
In 1851, Nikolas Daniel Walter packed all his worldly belongings into this trunk and left Germany with his wife and three small children to settle in Pope County, Illinois.
Hand and machine pieced and hand quilted cotton quilt made by Hester (Malone) Wright, (c. 1827 - ), LaPrairie Center, Marshall County, Illinois.
During the 1840s, 50s, and 60s, thousands of Illinoisans went west to seek their fortunes in California and Oregon. Among them was Servetus M. Thorpe, who left his wife and three children on their DeWitt County farm and traveled overland to California in 1862 in search of gold. The gold rush was over, however, so Servetus went on to Oregon, where he established a steamboat line on the Columbia River.
This canary’s name is Nicodemus. He belonged to an Illinois woman in the 19th century. Nicodemus was free from his cage and sitting on a window sash one day when someone threw open the sash and smashed him. His owner was so distraught that she had him stuffed and mounted, and he sat on display in the family parlor for the next several decades.
This axe was used by a Civilian Conservation Corps laborer working at Pere Marquette State Park between 1933 and 1940, one of more than a dozen state parks that were developed or improved with CCC labor.
This chair is painted with an emblem of the Mt. Pulaski Masonic Lodge, which was chartered on October 8, 1858. The history of Freemasonry stretches back to Colonial times in the United States. (Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and George Washington were all Masons.) Despite a wave of anti-Masonic sentiment in the 19th century, many new lodges were formed in the years before the Civil War. In an era with no federal “safety net,” the Masonic tradition of founding orphanages and homes for the aged provided a valuable social service.
This lamp was created to burn whale oil but was later fitted with a new burner to accommodate burning fluid, a cheaper, and more dangerous, alternative fuel. The new burner’s wicks extend upward at an angle away from the lamp to transfer the heat away from the fuel reservoir to reduce the risk of explosion.
To understand the significance of the invention of pottery, consider the modern Sunday barbecue where one might hear the sizzle of grease from the hamburger as it drips through the grill and into the fire. But for Native people, the fat going up in smoke represented the loss of crucial calories. Hunters spent hours of physical exertion stalking, killing, butchering, and transporting their game home. Meats and other foods were then cooked by placing the pot in a fire with no loss of those hard-won calories.