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IC student assists with visiting National Archives exhibit


After spending the summer doing research remotely, Yanan Sun ’21 was finally able to visit the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives and Paul Findley Congressional Office Museum in person this month. She immediately got to work behind the scenes, installing a temporary pop-up exhibition from the National Archives and Records Administration related to her research on women’s suffrage.

Sun, who is majoring in economics and finance with minors in mathematics and international studies, researched the suffragette movement and IC history this summer, in addition to working as a summer digital archive student assistant. She was able to conduct archival research and review historical collections remotely, accessing select historical collections thanks to available digital collections shared via JSTOR-Forum.

“Digital collections can help IC students discover information in an easier way, especially when they are not able to find the physical copies,” she said. “It is also very convenient and safe, especially during COVID-19 for students to access.”

Sun reviewed and researched digital collections, developing a virtual timeline comparing major moments in suffragette history and cross referencing key dates with activity at Illinois College. Her work focused on activity between 1900 and 1920, exploring milestones such as when the Jacksonville Female Academy closed in 1903 and students merged with Illinois College, welcoming the first coeds to the Hilltop.

Sun was one of six Illinois College students to conduct remote work and research with the archives and museum this summer.

“I am incredibly proud of our remote team,” Samantha Sauer, archivist and curator of the Paul Findley Congressional Museum and assistant professor of history. “Illinois College students led meaningful digital projects this summer to preserve and share our campus and community collections remotely with the museum, archives and special collections. The students demonstrated excellent initiative, resourcefulness and communication skills.” 

The National Archives exhibit being hosted on the Illinois College campus commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which prohibited states from denying the vote on the basis of sex. Titled “Rightfully Hers,” the exhibit explores the fight for suffrage, the history of the 19th amendment and women’s voting rights, and the amendment’s impact today.

"The ratification of the 19th Amendment was a landmark moment in American history that dramatically changed the electorate, and although it enshrined in the U.S. Constitution fuller citizenship for women many remained unable to vote,” said Rightfully Hers co-curator Jennifer N. Johnson.

Though the Illinois College campus remains closed to outside visitors, the exhibition will be displayed for the campus community in locations that permit social distancing.

The exhibit is organized by the National Archives and Records Administration and is presented in part by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, AARP and Denise Gwyn Ferguson.

To learn more about the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives, visit

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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