Camp Butler in Springfield, Illinois

The Establishment of Camp Butler

On April 15, 1861, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, sent a telegram to Illinois Governor Richard Yates reading: “Call made on you by to-nights mail, for six regiments of militia, for immediate service.” The Civil War had begun, and the State of Illinois was responsible for organizing men to fight in the Union army. At the time, there were no organized militias within Illinois, and the state’s government began planning military training camps. On August 2, 1861, the State of Illinois announced the construction of a Union army camp about six miles outside of Springfield named Camp Butler, after Illinois State Treasurer William Butler.… Read More

Illinois History Abroad: Manuscript Copies from the French National Archives and Repositories

In the initial decades after its founding in 1909, the Illinois Historical Survey (now part of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections) focused on research and collecting documents to support the publication of a multi-volume state history as well as an edited series of documents. The Survey obtained copies of archival materials from both North America and Europe. The IHLC currently holds dozens of boxes and reels of microfilm of documents from these early collecting initiatives, including 16 cubic feet and 25 reels of microfilm from French Archives and Depositories (MS 023). The project to collect copies of documents from French archives and depositories involved significant effort and repeated readjustments, as it spanned two continents and the outbreak of two world wars.… Read More

The Lincoln Tomb and Its Custodial History

On May 4, 1865, the body of Abraham Lincoln arrived at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. His coffin was placed in the cemetery’s receiving vault along with the coffin of his son, Willie, who had died three years earlier. In the days following, the National Lincoln Monument Association was founded by then Governor Richard J. Oglesby to construct a memorial that would honor the memory of the fallen president. Funds were raised across the country to support the cost of the memorial. Because construction would take six years, a temporary vault was built, and Lincoln’s body was placed there on December 21, 1865.… Read More

The IHLC’s COVID-19 Collection Project

It’s been approximately one year since the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections (IHLC) unit of the University of Illinois Library began collecting evidence of Illinoisans’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many libraries, archives, museums, and special collections across the country and around the world, the IHLC invited Illinoisans throughout the state to share a variety of materials. These contributions could take many forms, such as emails, typed or handwritten journal or diary entries, photographs, screenshots of social media posts, video and audio recordings, digital art, or other documents that reflect this time and the impact of COVID-19. Our goal is to capture the experiences of Illinoisans during this unprecedented period so that future researchers will be able to better understand how we felt, experienced, reacted, and adapted during this period.Read More