Curating Utopia – An Interview With Jessie Knoles


Exhibit flyer featuring house and sign from Brook Farm, the site of a previous communitarian colony.

This month IHLC opens its newest exhibit, Constructing Utopias: Examining Communitarianism Efforts in America, 1825-1940, which explores the promotion and study of communitarian colonies in America through research collections and personal papers at IHLC.

This exhibit was originally set for installation in March 2020. Due to COVID-19 pandemic responses and library closings, the exhibit materials have been patiently waiting in crates in the IHLC vault. We are excited to have this exhibit finally installed and available available for viewing during our open reading room hours, Monday-Friday 9am-12pm and 1-5pm (please see our website,, for up-to-date hours).

Read more about the research and curation process in the interview below with Jessie Knoles, who curated the exhibit as a graduate student at the University of Illinois iSchool, and is currently the Lincoln Collection Research Specialist at IHLC.… Read More

Curating the Land of Lincoln – An Interview with Austin Justice

This month the IHLC opened Here I Have Lived: Recreating the Land of Lincoln, an exhibit that explores the histories of two historic Lincoln sites: Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site and Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Read about senior undergraduate student Austin Justice’s experience and insights researching and curating this exhibit.

How did the idea for this exhibit come about?

As a native of southeastern Kentucky, I often get the question “how did you end up here?” Part of my answer is that my interest in history growing up spurred several family visits to sites around Central Illinois like New Salem, the Mt.… Read More

Curating the Illinois Railroad – An Interview with Hailey Vasquez and Claire Weibel

This summer the IHLC presents The Iron Horse of the Prairie State, an exhibit that explores the evolution of the railroad in Illinois’s history. Read about undergraduate student Hailey Vasquez and graduate student Claire Weibel’s experience and insights researching and co-curating this exhibit.

How did the idea for this exhibition come about?

HV: I’ve always loved transportation, especially public transportation, so I thought it would be interesting to curate an exhibit exploring that topic. I had started brainstorming themes while Claire was out of the office and had really liked the thought of doing the exhibit on trains in Illinois, but I was so worried Claire wouldn’t like the idea!… Read More

Curating the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Illinois – An Interview with Allison Kilberg

Votes for Women is on view through June 2019 in the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, Room 324 Main Library

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Illinois ratifying the 19th amendment, the IHLC is exhibiting Votes for Women, an exhibit on the women’s suffrage movement in Illinois. Read about Graduate Assistant Allison Kilberg’s experience and insights researching and curating this exhibit.

How did the idea for this exhibit come about?

A few months ago, while doing research for another project, I stumbled upon some really cool women’s suffrage postcards from the Baker-Busey-Dunlap Family Papers (MS 830). I knew I wanted to display them at some point, so when I started brainstorming ideas for our spring exhibit they were at the front of my mind. … Read More