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Report of the Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Illinois
State Historical Society.
Springfield, III., January 30, 1908.
Gentlemen — I beg leave to submit to you my report of the work
of the society for the year beginning January 24th, 1907, and ending
January 30, 1908. The society has from its organization flourished
and grown and the report of each year has been that that year has
been one of greater prosperity than its immediate predecessor. The
year 1907 has been no exception to this rule. The society has grown
and prospered in every branch of its numerous activities. It has
increased in membership and in influence. It now has 477 members,
18 of which are honorary members, three life members and 34 members
who have joined the society in accordance with our agreement with
the Illinois State Press Association. I wish to pay a tribute to these
press association members. Few of our members are in positions
to be more helpful to the society than are these editors of newspapers
throughout the State, and they most generously respond to our requests
for assistance. We appeal to them for information in regard to matters
relating to their respective neighborhoods, they insert notices of our
meetings, and do all they can to extend the usefulness of the society.
They also send their newspapers to the library and these files will in
time, in fact they do now, furnish valuable history of the localities in
which they are published.
The society has lost by the hand of death nine of its members.
They are : Judge James B. Bradwell, one of our honorary members ;
Mrs. Eliza Kincaid Wilson, also an honorary member; Judge David
McCulloch, one of the founders and a director of the society; Mr.
Charles A. Dilg, Hon. L. H. Kerrick, Mr. John B. Orendorff, Dr. A.
P. Coulter, Mr. Peyton Roberts and Hon. Wm. Vocke, one of our
vice presidents. Suitable notices of these members will appear in the
transactions of the society.
I wish again to ask the members of the society to inform the sec-
retary of the deaths of any members of the society. Our membership
is now so large and extends over the entire State, and it sometimes
happens that deaths occur and that the secretary, not receiving notice
of them, is unable to record them.
. The president of the society and the secretary attended the
meeting of the semi-centennial of the Chicago Historical
Society on February 8, 1907. An interesting historical address
was delivered by Mr. Franklin H. Head, the president of
the Chicago Historical Society and interesting letters of greet-
ing and congratulation to this pioneer society from many individuals
and societies were read. A number of the members of the Illinois
State Historical Society are also members of the Chicago Historical
Society and we had the pleasure of meeting them on this inter-
esting occasion. The president and secretary of the Illinois State
Historical Society also attended the annual meeting of the American
Historical Association at Madison, Wisconsin, on December, 27th and
28th, 1997. They attended a meeting of the conference of historical
societies of which Prof. E. B. Greene was the lecretary, and '"btfc the
same day attended the meeting of the Asscfeiation of Mississippi
Valley Historical Societies.
At this latter meeting the subject of cooperation of historical so-
cieties in the collection and publication of historical materials was
thoroughly discussed and several plans were suggested for cooperation
in the collection of source materials from the originals records in the
older states, and foreign countries. The Illinois State Historical So-
ciety was represented in this discussion by President OrendorfF and
Prof. C. W. Alvord. The Illinois State Historical Society is no longer
one of the small societies, and there are several societies that are not
as old as we are. I want to urge the members of this society to take
some of the work of these important matters in hand. Our com-
mittees are active, but as I said to you last year there is still room
for improvement along this line. I want each member of the society
to aid in the collection of local material. If yOu have a local society
in your neighborhood, and Ihope you have, collect first for your local
society, and if you have no place to store your material urge your
county authorities, or your city council to help you to secure such a
place. If you have not a local society, send to the State society local
imprints, books or sermons and addresses printed in your towns, or
collections of letters, that throw light on the earlier history of the
State or any part of it. The secretary has since the last annual meeting
prepared and placed in the Illinois State building at Jamestown at
the Ter-Centennial celebration of the settlement of Jamestown an
historical exhibit relating to Illinois and its people, as usual placing
stress upon the Lincoln exhibit. The Illinois State commissioners
were well satsfied with the exhibit and have written me that, there
was no state exhibit at the exposition which approached it in interest,
and that it was visited by more than ten thousand people during the
progress of the exposition. It may not be out of place to speak of the
work done by the Fort Massac commission in marking the site of old
Fort Massac. The secretary of the Historical Society is also secretary
to the Fort Massac commission. Fort Massac park is the property
of the State of Illinois and is supported by the State as a free public
park. The Illinois Daughters of the Anierican Revolution appropriated
one thousand dollars toward a monument to George Rogers Clark
and his 154 brave companions in arms who captured Kaskaskia and
the northwest for the state of Virginia and so for the United States.
The park is situated on a beautiful bluff of the Ohio river on the
outskirts of the city of Metropolis in Massac coupty, Illinois. It is
a beautiful spot, and the monument has been erected and is a
most creditable shaft. The dedicatory exercises of the park and
monument will occur in the early summer and the commission and
the Daughters of the American Revolution are most anxious that the
Historical Society take part. I suggest that delegates be sent to the dedi-
cation of this truly historic spot, which marks an era in the historical
work of the State. Also at Quincy a monument will be erected to the
memory and in honor of George Rogers Clark. This monument is erect-
ed from an appropriation by the State Legislature of $5,000. There are
many more historic spots, which the State should own and preserve.
Fort Gage, Starved Rock, and other sacred and historic spots should
receive attention from this society. In this connection I desire to
suggest that occasional meetings of the society should be held in the
various localities of the State. Would not a summer meeting at
Starved Rock in connection with the LaSalle county historical society
be pleasurable and profitable? I think that the meeting in
the several towns where the Lincoln-Douglas debates occurred will
take the place of these local meetings for this year, and while I know
that the committee for the celebration of the semi-centennial of the
debates will call your attention to these matters, I can not refrain
from urging that- the society give the local committees the
fullest sympathy and assistance. . I think that special committees
from the society should be appointed for each of these local celebra-
tions. I believe the time is at hand when the society should publish
a regular bulletin or some form of serial publication. Through these
publications the work of local historical societies could be greatly
facilitated. They may be quarterly, or bi-monthly, and they might be
bound as a part of the annual transactions. The papers read or col-
lected by the local societies might form a part of these bulletins.
I have often said that the work of the secretary of the society and the
Hbrarian of the library go hand in hand and it is hard to separate them
in a report. The library has increased largely in the past year. Our
genealogical department is especially flourishing and our collection of
genealogical works is a surprise to visitors. The chairman of the
committee on genealogy will make a report, so it is unnecessary for
me to speak of it further, except to urge any members of the society
who may have histories or historical sketches, however brief, of their
families to donate them to the library. The library purchases general
works, but of course it can not buy family histories, as their name is
legion. The librarian will welcome information or suggestions along
this or other branches of the work of collecting historical material.
We are preparing a bibliolography of Illinois authors which the
library board will publish in due time. We ask for information of
Illinoisans who have written books, poems, songs, magazine or news-
paper ai-ticles, or of books about Illinois people, places or events. The
reference work of the library and society is constantly growing and I
with my assistant do my best to meet it, and to respond to all in-
quiries and do the reference work which our correspondence requires.
We receive dozens of letters each day to answer which requires consid-
erable labor and research. We have no stenographer regularly, but we
sometiriies employ one for short periods. We now have in the library
more than twenty thousand books and pamphlets. The work of cata-
loguing and classifying them is well kept up and it is of course no light
task. Since our last meeting the transactions for the year 1906 have been
published. Five thousand copies of this valuable book were issued
and the demand for it increases every day. It is a matter of deep
regret to me that the earlier numbers of our transactions are entirely
out of print. No day passes but we have inquiries from new mem-
bers and others who wish to make their sets of our publications com-
plete. It will certainly be necessary to take some steps to have them
reprinted. Our last year's book is still in the hands of the printers.
As the affairs of the State grow, so the demands for State printing
grow, and it becomes more difficult to hasten the book, but I think
you < will be rewarded for your patience by its excellence when it
finally reaches your hands. The publication committee deserves the
highest commendation, and the fact that its chairman. Prof. E. B.
Greene, gives so much of his valuable time to the editorial supervision
of our transactions before the manuscript is placed in the hands of
the printer should be especially appreciated by the society, as it en-
sures the value of the book according to modern historical methods.
The library has issued Illinois Historical Collections Vol. 2, of
which you have all received copies. This is edited by Prof. C. W.
Alvord, whose splendid introduction, which is a history of Illinois as
a county of Virginia, is a distinct contribution to State history.
I very much regret that I am obliged to present to you the resig-
nation of Prof. E. E. Sparks as a director of the society, though he
will retain his membership and interest in the society for which he
has labored so untiringly. He goes to the State college of Pennsyl-
vania, and while we congratulate the Keystone state we are sorry to
lose him from Illinois. He leaves us as a valedictory work his
splendid volume, a new edition of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which
the library board will shortly publish.
These, I think, are the most important of the numerous labors in
our field of State "history. I wish to call your attention to the fact
that next year, 1909, will be the one hundredth anniversary of the
birth of Abraham Lincoln. The Governor recommended to the State
Legislature the appointment of a commission to arrange for an ap-
propriate celebration of this great historic occasion. The Legislature
by joint i-esolution authorized the Governor to appoint a commission
of fifteen citizens of the State to arrange for a celebration in Spring-
field on February 12, 1909. This will be one of the great dates of the
twentieth century. I most earnestly urge that the society take an
active part in connection with the commission to be appointed by the
Governor, in making this one of the greatest celebrations that has ever
been given in this country. We should invite historical societies from
all the states, from large cities, from other countries, to send delegates
to Springfield for this great event. It may be that when the subject of
the change of date for holding our annual meeting is discussed you
may decide that you would like to hold it the time or very near the
time of this great international celebration. I would like to suggest
that you each try to make a list of the persons of your acquaintance
of whom you have any knowledge who actually knew Mr. Lincoln or
Mr. Douglas. We would be very glad to have copies of the reminis-
cences of these persons in the library. I suggest that you get such
persons to write, or to dictate their reminiscences, and send copies
to the secretary of the society.
The library is now so crowded that a new book becomes a problem.
It may be that as the legal department of the State is moving over to
the new and beautiful temple of justice, that we may obtain more
room and thus relieve the congestion.
Once more let me say that the society is growing, rapidly, vigor-
ously, and wholesomely. Teachers, preachers, lawyers, doctors, mer-
chants, farmers, housewives, Illinoisans from every walk of life
are taking an interest in your work and trying to help you along. I
will not speak of the local societies for the chairman of tiie committee
for that purpose will tell you far better than I can how hopeful and
encouraging is that work.
We are certainly marching on. I congratulate you, but I beg for
help to secure original manuscripts, letters, etc. I am very sensitive
of our deficiency in this respect. That is our great weakness. We
have not what Wisconsin and Iowa have as yet, but we will have at
no distant day. Illinois does not long remain behind in any branch
of its work.
My I be pardoned if I say a word that may seem too personal.
I wish to say to the society that its thanks are due to my assistant,
Miss Georgia L. Osborne. She has worked early and late. She has
never been too ill or too tired to work for the interest of the library
and the society. She has been, indeed, my faithful and sympathetic
right hand. I hope you will pardon me for making this statement a
part of the records of the society.
Jessie Palmer Weber,
Secretary Illinois State Historical Society.