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Knox librarians prepare a display of archived items in Seymour Library.


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Items from the Knox Archives Featured in "Celebrate Illinois" Exhibit

March 07, 2018

Knox librarians prepare a display of archived items in Seymour Library.

by Tricia Duke '19

More than a dozen items from the Knox College Special Collections & Archives in Henry H. Seymour Library are featured in the Peoria Riverfront Museum's "Celebrate Illinois: 200 Years in the Land of Lincoln" exhibit, which runs through June 3.

The items from Seymour Library will be in good company, showcased alongside items from the Smithsonian Institution and National Archives.

Cathie Neumiller, vice president of marketing at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, said she "unabashedly recommended to our curators to look at Knox—the archives, Seymour Library, Owen Muelder's Underground Railroad [Center], and Carl Sandburg's Historic Home—for key pieces for the exhibition."

Knox Library Director Jeff Douglas said that the Peoria Riverfront Museum approached the Knox special collections staff with a long list of items they were interested in. The staff worked with the museum to understand how Knox contributions could add to the exhibit's larger themes.

"These items filled in some gaps in the very broad Illinois history narrative that they had developed for this exhibit," said Douglas. "At least half of what we lent was related to notable Illinois writers, which didn't surprise me in the end since that's a strength of our collections—but it pleased me to see that it would be an emphasis in the exhibit."

Carley Robison, Knox's curator of manuscripts and archives, said she appreciates how the items Knox is loaning to the exhibit represent both the everyday experience of living in Illinois and the idealistic innovation of the region through history.

"Each of the items is a token of what was to come," Robison said, "[The items are] products of the determination, industry, and creativity of the people who lived here."

Literary items loaned to the museum include an autographed copy of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, a plaster mold bust of Edgar Lee Masters by Kathleen Wheeler, an autographed copy of Map of the Universe by Vachel Lindsay, a 1926 first edition of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, a 1904 first edition of Incidentals by Carl Sandburg, and a framed photograph of Carl Sandburg and Frank Lloyd Wright by Archie Leiberman.

Other notable items include a 1916 Oak Park High School yearbook, a Ferris Wheel match safe and Ferris Wheel cabinet photograph from the World Columbian Exposition, and an 1867 Board of Civil Engineers report on the construction of a railway bridge across the Mississippi River with a fold-out illustration of the Eads Bridge. Knox archives also loaned a photograph of Knox alumnus Robert Avery, a sketch of an Avery plow, and a spoon that Robert Avery crafted out of a wheel while a prisoner during the Civil War.

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Printed on Thursday, December 13, 2018