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Museum Department News Archive

 p1_Ballingers   February is Black History Month
posted 4 Feb 2021

If you haven't already checked out our online exhibit on Black History in Madison County Before 1900, this is a great time to do it!

The exhibition features photographs, illustrations, documents, and period artifacts held by the Madison County Historical Society relating to the lives of early African American Madison Countians. It was created by the Museum Department staff in collaboration with community historian/genealogical researcher Charlotte Johnson of Alton. Send us your comments.

Photo at left: James and Matilda Ballinger in 1913.

 Arashiyama postcard MCHMAL side 1

Arashiyama postcard MCHMAL side 2
  International Exposure for the County Museum
posted 2 Feb 2021

The Madison County Historical Society was recently contacted by Norio Togiya, professor of Informatics at Kansai University in Japan. Professor Togiya's research focuses on digital cultural heritage. He is currently working on a project compiling an electronic catalog of pre-World War II Japanese photographs preserved in museums, libraries, and archives in the United States and the United Kingdom. The free catalog will be published on the website of the National Diet Library (the national library of Japan) later in 2021. 

The Madison County Archival Library contributed this postcard (MCHS document 1986-067-0003) of "Arashiyama at Kyoto" to the project. Ned Caldwell, on a trip around the world courtesy of the United States Navy in 1910, sent the postcard to his mother in Edwardsville. Send us your comments.
 Three girls 1897   January 2021 Staff Pick

The two little blond girls are sisters (Mildred and Marion Brown); the girl in the middle is their cousin Sarah Travous. One day Mildred and Marion’s mom called up Sarah’s mom and said the photographer was in town, so hurry up and come over for a picture. There wasn’t enough time to brush out Sarah’s curls. This picture was taken about 1897 or 1898. When the Brown family purchased their first car years later, beautiful and popular Mildred was the first one to learn to drive it. But someone had to ride with her, to keep her from picking up boys. MCHS photograph 1992-095-0015-002. Send us your comments.
 bubble pipe   Artifact Spotlight: December 2020

This bubble pipe is about 100 years old! You dip the bowl in a soap solution and then blow into the mouthpiece, holding the pipe so that the bowl faces downward. Ads for the "Wonder Soap Bubbler" tout it as "fascinating, healthful, sanitary, and indesctructible." The perfect holiday gift for kids! MCHS object 2019-300-0012-FIC. Send us your comments.
Artifact Spotlight: November 2020

Elijah Parish Lovejoy, editor of the St. Louis Observer, began writing editorials against slavery in 1833. After a mob destroyed his printing press for a third time, Lovejoy moved his family across the river to Alton, Illinois, where he started the abolitionist paper the Alton Observer. Soon a vocal faction of citizens felt that Lovejoy's abolitionist views had become more extreme (for the time and place). On November 7, 1837, a pro-slavery mob approached the location of his hidden printing press with murderous intent. Both parties fired shots. Lovejoy came out of the building to overturn attempts to burn it down and fell victim to multiple gunshots. The mob reached the printing press and threw the pieces in the Mississippi. Due to multiple conflicts of interest, the justice system did not charge anyone with Lovejoy's murder.

MCHS object 1964-035-0005: Joining a mantle from his Alton home, this platter entered into the Madison County Historical Society collections after travelling through Lovejoy’s extended family. In a 1937 Alton Telegraph article, the owner stated that the platter and four matched plates had been part a larger set that did not survive the 100 years between. "I did not realize the value of these dishes or I would have been more careful with them." Send us your comments.
 Spread Eagle   Archival Image Spotlight: October 2020

The Spread Eagle, a side-wheeler steamboat, cruises down the Mississippi River. You can see the old Burlington Northern railroad swing bridge at Alton in the background. The steamboat and bridge were both built in 1892 (the bridge was completed in 1894). This photograph was taken about 1900.

Transportation will be a prominent theme in the new exhibits when the museum reopens. Send us your comments.

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