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REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE ILLINOIS STATE
HISTORICAL SOCIETY, MAY, 1910 TO MAY, 1911.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., May, 1911. To the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society:
GENTLEMEN—In my report made to you a year ago, I spoke of the steady gain in the membership and influence of the Society, and the experience of the past year has been of a continued onward and upward march. Our membership, however, ought to be much larger than it is. Few of our members have sought to gain new members for the Society. Some notable and honorable exceptions to this rule can be given, chief among whom may be mentioned, Mr. Wm. A. Meese, Mr. Wm. A. Sandham, Dr. W. H. Stennett, Mr. Wm. G. Edens, Dr. Daniel Berry, and others. Had we each one secured as many new members as these gentlemen our Society would number thousands instead of hundreds. We have now more than 1,200 members of all classes : Honorary members
22 Life members
8 Newspaper members
47 Active members
1,240 We have lost by death a number of our members, who are, as far as known to me, namely:
John W. Good, Moline, Ill., deceased April 22, 1910.
I again urge you to notify the Secretary of the Society of deaths in our membership. It is not possible for me to learn of them unless notice is sent me. We wish to publish brief notices in the Journal and to keep our records accurate. Please bear this in mind.
The present General Assembly just drawing to a close has enacted considerable legislation in relation to historical matters. Mr. Meese, chairman of our Legislative Committee, and to whose efficient labors is largely due the result, will tell you of the important step which this. General Assembly has taken in the appointment of a commission to prepare plans looking toward the erection of a building for the Historical Society and Library and some kindred interests.
In 1912 Madison County will celebrate her centennial anniversary, it having been set off as a separate county by proclamation of Gov. Ninian Edwards in 1812. Madison County has asked an appropriation of $5,000.00 to erect a monument in Edwardsville, the county seat, to the memory of Governor Edwards, Governor Coles, and the pioneers who took part in the border warfare, when Fort Russell, near the present Edwardsville, was one of the principal frontier forts.
In 1812 Illinois territory became a territory of the second grade and in that year the first territorial legislature was held. Madison County will include in its celebration, the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of this beginning of representative government in Illinois. This bill has passed the Senate.
A bill has also passed the Senate appropriating money for the purchase of the site of Fort Chartres, one of the most important of the early French posts. A joint resolution has been passed authorizing the Board of Trustees of the Historical Library to decide upon the route traveled by the family of Mr. Lincoln in its migration from Kentucky to Illinois by the way of Indiana. The Governor in his message recommended that this be done, and that the route be suitably marked and called the "Lincoln Way.”
The most ambitious of the historical plans has been the attempt to secure an appropriation for the purchase of Starved Rock and vicinity, about 1,100 acres. A bill carrying an appropriation of $225,000.00 has passed the 'House and has yet to be acted upon by the Senate. For this important work credit is due to Prof. J. A. James and his associates on the Illinois Park Commission.
The Quarterly Journal of the Society meets with favor from the Society and from all persons interested in the cause of State history. It is quoted very freely by the newspapers of the State and we have daily requests for copies of it and for permission to reprint articles from its columns. You are again urged to contribute to it items of historical interest or original material.
The Secretary appeared before the appropriation committees of the Legislature in the interest of a bill for an appropriation for a new building for the Library and Society. She took as her principal text the burning of the capitol at Albany and the destruction of priceless
records and the present defenseless condition of our own records, and the committees were impressed with the necessity of providing better quarters, with proper means of caring for our records and other historical treasures.
We are so crowded in our present quarters that it really seems that the limit of the storing capacity of our rooms has been reached. I would like each one of you to see for himself the congested condition of our rooms. We can no longer keep an even' fairly tidy appearance. Tables and floor must be kept loaded. Our wall space for pictures is all used and our shelves for books and newspaper files are all overloaded.
The 1909 transactions of the Society have been printed and will reach you I hope within a short time. A new edition of fifteen thousand copies of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate volume has been printed and distributed. The demand for this volume has been surprising and it has not abated.
The history of Illinois newspapers, 1814-1879, edited by Mr. F. W. Scott and published as Illinois Historical Collections Vol. 6, has been distributed. It is an admirable and useful volume, and receives high commendation from the press and interested parties generally. Vol. 7 of the collections, the second of the executive series or Governors' Letter Books has also been issued, Mr. C. M. Thompson and Prof. E. B. Greene being the editors. Its introductory chapters present a most interesting history of the time covered by the State papers, and throw much light upon the internal improvement scheme which so nearly wrecked the State and upon the Mormon question.
The membership of the Society is so large that it seems that its annual meeting each year gives hardly enough opportunity for the members to meet, and it seems that the members in the different localities of the State can and ought to aid local societies or communities to observe local historical events. I suggest that a committee be appointed to consider a plan for such special meetings. The Secretary of the Society attended the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the organization of Woodford County. This was held under the auspices of the Woodford County Historical Society, Feb. 27, 1911. The meeting was a very successful one. Addresses were made by pioneers of the county and everyone present seemed to enjoy the exercises and appreciate the work that the Woodford County Society is doing. I hope we will have a report from the Woodford County Society by a delegate from the Society and that other societies may be represented at this meeting and give us some account of their activities.
The Colored Historical Society of Illinois, located at Springfield, has asked me to report for it that it has sixty active members who are much interested in preserving the history of their race in its struggles for growth and betterment. I believe this is the only colored historical society in the State.
We have received some gifts for which we desire to express our thanks. Members of the Society are urged to help in the collection of local historical material. A circular letter was sent you some time ago asking such materials. We are very anxious to obtain old letters which describe early conditions in the localities of the State, the pioneers' manner of living, modes of transportation, cost of commodities, etc. If you know of any such local material we will be glad to be informed of
We will gladly have copies made of historical documents if the originals cannot be obtained.
Miss Louise Enos, a member of the Society, has presented on behalf of her father's heirs a valuable Lincoln document. It is an original surveying paper. It was mentioned in the April Journal of the Society. The Hon. Norman G. Flagg has a collection of early Illinois letters written mostly by his father. He has allowed the Society to publish them and they will be edited by Mr. S. J. Buck and published in the transactions of the Society.
Such material is of the greatest value and interest. Please help the Society and Library in the collection of such material.
Governor Richard Yates has presented the Society with a manuscript record book containing the earliest military orders of his father, the great War Governor. There are not many entries but what there are are of the greatest interest.
We acknowledge gifts in the Journal, and so I will not take your time by enumerating them at this time.
On April 14, the Society held a meeting in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the breaking out of the war between the states. The meeting was one of the most interesting we have ever held and the attendance was as large as we have ever had. Addresses were made by Colonel Carr, Gen. Smith D. Atkins, Mr. Eugene F. Baldwin and Col. Bluford Wilson at the afternoon meeting, and in the evening Judge Marcus Kavanagh delivered an address. The old war time music was sung. The patriotic societies were invited and were well represented. It shows what can be done in the way of a special meeting to commemorate an historic event.
Our committees will, I hope, report on their activities. I urge greater activity among the members of the committees.
JESSIE PALMER WEBER, Secretary Illinois State Historical Society.
REPORT OF TREASURER.
May, 1910 to May, 1911.
Balance on hand from 1909......
EXPENDITURES MAY, 1910 TO MAY, 1911.
$ 15 63
73 50 50 00 38 75
8 50 11 75 106 56 58 70
8 00 19 75