Illinois College has received grants from the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board and the Davee Foundation to improve the Iver F. Yeager Special Collections and Archives. The documents and materials that comprise this collection are located on campus in Schewe Library and Whipple Hall.
The Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board (ISHRAB) awarded a $3,022 grant last year to purchase archival storage materials and pay three student historians to conduct extensive archival work, including transcribing oral histories and rediscovering, organizing and making accessible a large collection of historical photographs and documents related to the history of Illinois College and Jacksonville.
The Davee Foundation is providing matching funding to support the archival work of four other students and to purchase supplies to help preserve and publish oral histories of significant figures in the history of Jacksonville and Illinois College.
History Professor Steve Hochstadt said the students have made considerable progress in transcribing interviews in the Charles E. Frank Oral History Archive. “They have transcribed and published a 1975 interview with former President Vernon Caine who was Illinois College’s president from 1956 to 1973 and is remembered for his expert financial management and leadership during a time of great social change. His interview is part of a set of four interviews with former presidents of Illinois College,” Hochstadt said.
The students are working on the transcription of the other presidents: Gary Hudson (1937 to 1953), Donald Mundinger (1973 to 1993) and William Selden (1953 to 1955). Nearly a dozen interviews with Jacksonville residents and Illinois College alumni have also been completed or are nearly finished. “Eventually we will make these interviews available online, as both printed transcripts and audio files,” Hochstadt added.
The student historians have uncovered some historical gems, according to history Professor Jenny Barker-Devine. These include four 19th century diaries of Illinois College students, scrapbooks, artifacts belonging to 19th century administrators, blueprints for campus buildings, a box of Confederate money and a ticket to President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment proceedings.
The students have also digitized a collection of 117 letters written by students, alumni and community members who served overseas during World War I. Some of these letters can be found on a preliminary website documenting the college’s role in World War I at sites.google.com/a/mail.ic.edu/icinworldwari
This spring the student historians will continue work to archive Theatre Department records, the Charles Rammelkamp Papers, the David A. Smith Papers and the Malcolm Stewart Papers. Rammelkamp, one of the longest-serving Illinois College presidents and a historian in his own right, guided the college through a turbulent time in the early 20th century. Smith was a prominent citizen in Jacksonville during the 19th century, and Malcolm Stewart was a professor of religion and philosophy at Illinois College between 1941 and 1974.
The student historians participating in the project this year are sophomore Taylor Brien from Bettendorf, Iowa, Jacksonville senior Christopher Caldwell-Jacques, Kempton senior Taylor English, Poplar Grove senior Dani Hillis, Godfrey junior Kelly McCormick, Jacksonville senior Emily Phebus, senior Rachel Walther from St. Louis, and Algonquin junior Lacey Wilson.
Elizabeth Tobin, dean of the college, said “The Davee Foundation has provided $70,000 in grant support to Illinois College’s Department of History and Political Science over the past eight years. We are so pleased that the Foundation made this ISHRAB state grant possible by providing the necessary matching funds. The Davee Foundation grants have also provided a tremendous number of history and political science reference materials that are available in Schewe Library. We greatly appreciate their support.”
For access to the Iver F. Yeager Special Collections and Archives please contact Jan Figa, library director, at 217.245.3023 or preferably at Jan.Figa@mail.ic.edu. You can follow the progress of the archives on Facebook
or on Barker-Devine’s IC Time Capsule blog