Monday, October 24, 2016

Lincoln ax, FDR letter brought to UIS History Harvest

Since Springfield is a political town in a political state, perhaps it’s no surprise that when the University of Illinois Springfield put out a call for residents to bring in their political memorabilia, they got at least 450 items.

It was a parade of campaign posters, buttons, bumper stickers, T-shirts and more during the UIS History Harvest event Saturday at the Old State Capitol.

Some of the more interesting items included Abraham Lincoln campaign buttons and a small, about 3-inches long, ax from Lincoln’s 1860 presidential campaign. There also was a letter from four-time President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a uniform from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign. 

The project was the idea of history professors Ken Owen and Devin Hunter, who wanted to “increase the public history work and digital media work” their students are doing, Owen said.

About eight or nine colleges in the country have held a history harvest. UIS is the first to do so in the Midwest, according to Hunter. The idea is to have the community bring in historical artifacts that relate to a particular theme (in this case politics) so students can make digital scans of them, learn citizens’ stories about the items, and make a permanent online archive of the photos and stories.

“We’re hoping to learn about how ordinary citizens engage with and experience the electoral process,” Owen added. “We want to know why the particular messages have resonance with people and why particular bits of memorabilia stuck in their mind and have personal meaning.”

The UIS students, who planned and ran the History Harvest, may have a list of artifacts and their pictures available online within a couple weeks, according to Hunter. Check their website for updates.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 22, 2016.

Read the entire article online.