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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.