Improved Access and Preservation for the Lincoln Prints and Ephemera Collection

When imagining an artist’s rendering of the sixteenth president, you might first envision something like George Peter Alexander Healy’s famous 1869 painting Abraham Lincoln that depicts the seated, contemplative statesman, or perhaps Norman Rockwell’s 1964 Lincoln the Railsplitter portraying a young beardless Hoosier with axe in one hand and a book in the other. What might not immediately come to mind is something like Midwestern meat processor John Morrell & Co.’s 1963 Pictorial Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln, a commemorative calendar featuring colorful renditions of Lincoln’s life by Isa Barnett for each month. That’s just one of the nearly nine-hundred items from the IHLC’s Lincoln Prints and Ephemera Collection (MS 1045) to be available for patron use upon our reopening to the public (pending state and university regulations for managing the COVID-19 pandemic).Read More

Settling in Knox County: The Eames Family Letters

The settlement of Knox County, Illinois, began in the second half of the 1820s. The earliest settler families came in 1828, largely from Kentucky.  In May of 1830, a public meeting was held to discuss the possibility of county organization. A group of prominent citizens came together to address a petition, which was presented to Judge Richard M. Young of the fifth Judicial Circuit. The petition group proved to the Judge that Knox had 350 inhabitants, the number of residents required by law to form a county. On June 10, 1830, Judge Young declared the county organized.  

Soon after, the county began to grow.Read More

The Charleston Riot of 1864

During the Civil War on March 28, 1864, anti-war Democrats clashed with Union soldiers on leave in Charleston, Illinois, on the Coles County courthouse square. This event, which would come to be known as the Charleston Riot, left nine dead and twelve wounded, making it one of the deadliest soldier-civilian encounters in the North during the Civil War.  

In the 1860s Charleston was a small town of approximately 3,000 people in Coles County. The town was made up primarily of farmers and landowners, many of whom had either migrated to Coles County from the South, largely from Kentucky, or were descendants of those migrants.Read More

Joseph Duncan: From Illinois Pioneer to Governor

Joseph Duncan was a pioneer and Illinois politician who served in many roles throughout his career, including as the sixth Governor of Illinois from 1834 to 1838. Duncan was born in Paris, Kentucky, on February 22, 1794, and went on to serve in the War of 1812. He was later awarded the testimonial sword by a resolution of Congress for his role in the defense of Fort Stephenson near Sandusky, Ohio, in a battle in 1813.

Duncan moved from Kentucky to Illinois in 1818, the year Illinois achieved statehood. He purchased tracts of land in different counties throughout the state. Later in his career in Congress Duncan advocated for settlers, describing them as “brave, hardy, enterprising” men “possessing an ardent love of liberty, freedom and independence,” who “endured privations and hardships” giving up “all the comforts of society,” overcoming “difficulties which most gentlemen in Congress know nothing about.”… Read More