November 11, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I–The Great War. Ceremonies commemorating this event have been taking place across the United States and in Europe. The Great War impacted nearly every community in the United States but has often been considered the “Forgotten War.” Today there are resources online which document many of the individual stories of the war. Links to the stories of Illinois families can be found on this page of the United States World War I Commission website. Mount Prospect was just over a year old on the Armistice Day in 1918, but Mount Prospect’s citizens felt the impact of the war as well. Relics of that time can be found at the Library’s Illinois Digital Archives page. Among them are a uniform jacket and a gas mask. After the war Mount Prospect veterans formed VFW Post 1337 and the American Legion Post 525. The names of the women who were charter members of the American Legion Auxiliary of Post 525 may be seen here. Veterans in both organizations continue to be active in the community today and do much to honor those who served in the past and do so now. Never forget.
Books and other texts can link us intellectually to the past but photographs and films of other eras take us into those past moments. Photographs from 1911 are not exactly rare but they are precious. Film showing motion was only just becoming more available in 1911 so a film of New York City in that year is a very special resource. A Swedish documentary film company sought to document the most celebrated sites in the world at that time. Look here to see its film of a New York street scene in 1911.
There are no films of Mount Prospect in 1911. The town was only just beginning to make a name for itself at that time. There are some photographs of the people and a business, however. Go to the Illinois Digital Archives to see children of Louis F. Busse and workers at the Wille Brothers Company in photographs taken around 1911. The original photographs are in the collection of the Mount Prospect Historical Society.
Scanning all kinds of material has become a common task thanks to the availability of devices like Flip-Pal and special phone apps like Pic Scanner for iphones or Google PhotoScan for android phones. But what do you do with a book that is nearly 6 feet by 7 1/2 feet when opened? The British Library recently faced this challenge when it digitized its copy of the 1660 Klencke Atlas, one of the world’s largest books. The library made a video of the process available on YouTube recently. The Klencke Atlas contains 41 wall-sized, extremely rare maps. These maps reveal what Dutch cartographers knew about the world during the High Renaissance period. The public domain images of the atlas are part of the British Library’s Picturing Places online resource.
If you are looking for a digitized collection of items closer to home, go the the MPPL digital collection Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect. This collection includes an image of an 1873 map of Mount Prospect.
On St. Patrick’s Day it is often said in the United States that everyone is a little Irish. But how many people of Irish descent are there in the United States? An exact figure is a challenge to determine but the United States Census figures project it to be around 33 million. Here is a Census Bureau report issued in 2004 which describes the results of an ancestry question on the 2000 Census. An article from the website Irish Central compares figures from the 2000 Census to those from the American Community Survey in 2014. It also explains why it is difficult to pin down exact figures regarding ethnicity. If you want to see if there is an Irish ancestor in your background, there are resources at the Mount Prospect Public Library which can help. Look through this list of Irish genealogy books in our collection. Investigate the genealogy online resources Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and Find My Past. If you would like some help with this research, please come to the Research Services Desk and set up an appointment with the genealogy librarian or make an appointment online. Whatever your background, wear a little green and have some fun on St. Patrick’s Day!
The stories of our families are told through many forms of documents. Family photographs, however, are unique because they have visually captured moments in time that now only live as memories. A discarded photograph album lead a writer in New York to the story of black families that lived in the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York City during the middle of the 20th Century. This writer, Anne Correal, describes the journey she undertook to discover whose photographs they were and how the album was left forsaken on the street. Her article “Love and Black Lives, in Pictures Found on a Brooklyn Street” appeared in the New York Times in January 2017. It traces the paths that many African American families took from the Deep South to the North in an event known as the Great Migration. Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson is a book in the Library’s collection which also illuminates this event in American history. There are now also other books and videos on display in the Library which document African American history. If you are interested in learning more about your own family’s history and managing your own family photographic collections, come talk to our Research Services staff who will help you get started.
If you like demographics, then we have a great new resource for you, Social Explorer. You can access over 200 years of government data and see it displayed in maps. It’s an intriguing way to discover trends in aging, race, income, employment, election results, health, and crime data. These are but a few of the options. I’ve been comparing where I live in Chicago to where I always said I wanted to live, Nome, Alaska. Where I live now, there are 33,334 people per square mile, compared to 5,695 in the area around MPPL, but only 5.4 in Nome. It must be very quiet. And what is really neat is that much of this data can be compared over time, and some European and UK information is also available.
The holiday season is full of traditional events and practices, many of which revolve around the figure of Santa Claus. But who is this figure? What is his history? That story goes back to 280 CE in Myra, an area now in modern Turkey, where Saint Nicholas lived and worked as a bishop. After his death on December 6 in an unknown year, many stories developed about his kindness and generosity, especially to children. These legends were adopted over the years by people in many areas of Europe where Saint Nicholas is still considered to be the source of gifts. It is from him that Santa Claus as he is known today emerges with some help from Nordic mythology and the Protestant Reformation among other influences. An article from National Geographic online gives a detailed description of this transition. Additional information can be found at the Santa Claus entry on History.com and the website of the St. Nicholas Center. This far-reaching tale reveals how many cultures have added to the legend of Santa Claus, making him one figure that belongs to everyone.
Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, was first set as a U.S. legal holiday to recognize the end of World War I. This “armistice” took place on November 11, 1918. In 1938 legislation was past to formally dedicate November 11 to the “cause of world peace.” With the urging of veterans organizations, the U.S. Congress amended the Act of 1938, replacing “Armistice” with the word “Veterans.” On June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans. In 1968 Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. This move was highly unpopular so in 1975 the annual observance of Veterans Day was moved again to November 11. A more complete history of this holiday can be found here at the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Many Mount Prospect natives have served in the military over the past 100 years. There are some artifacts of this service in the online collection Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect. Among them are a World War I gas mask, a World War I uniform jacket and helmet, and the stole of a local World War II chaplain.
On November 11 of this year, Mount Prospect will honor veterans in a free program to be held at Lions Park Recreation Center beginning at 10:30 AM.
In response to the economic turmoil of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt called for the creation of several assistance agencies. One of these was the Resettlement Administration (RA) created in 1935. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created out of the RA in 1937. This agency was formed to help struggling farmers and sharecroppers. It’s historical section was headed by Roy Stryker. He organized a team of photographers who documented hardships across the country, especially in the Midwest and California. Many of the black and white images they created such as Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” are well known. Not so familiar are the color photographs that were taken of farmers, workers, and children. In a new book called New Deal Photography, USA 1935-1943 author Peter Walther has created a survey of the work done by the photographers of the FSA. These images vividly show the hard life of many ordinary people during a time of great struggle in America. A few of the images can be seen here. Walther’s book is currently on order at MPPL.