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he UIS History Harvest seeks to engage the public in the act of recording history and has occurred three times since 2016. In 2022, this program will be hosted for the fourth time at the Illinois State Museum this October. Each year members of the public were asked to contribute a personal possession that relates to a historical topic. Students digitized these items, and continue to contribute images and information to this online archive and exhibit space.

In 2016, contributors helped create the Political Memorabilia collection. This collection featured items such as invitations to the funeral of Governor Oglseby, flyers for various state senators, and posters for campaigns. The archive and exhibits exemplified the political climate of Illinois throughout history and the impacts it had on central Illinois citizens. 

In 2018, the History Harvest collected artifacts and documents for the “Being Illinoisan” collection. Memorable items included images of the Paris Cleaners softball champions, real estate licenses from 1969, and historic images of Central Illinois figures that shaped the state. 

Most recently in 2020, the pandemic encouraged participants to donate their materials and items of history related to the changes in education over the past fifty years. Some items highlighted timeless features of education, such as a favorite pen used for homework; other items identified specific time periods, such as a mask worn in class during the Covid-19 pandemic. This collection was meant to show how much change has occurred since the foundation of Sangamon State and how education will continue to evolve.

The goal of this 2022 History Harvest is to continue to democratize the archive and broaden our understanding of travel and ‘The Great Road Trip.’ Travel is central to the history of America; Central Illinois is a major crossroads for broad national adventures. By collecting information on the valued memories of local people, this History Harvest provides a unique insight into how ordinary citizens in central Illinois have traveled and interacted with the rest of the nation and the world.

The UIS History Harvest is a collaboration between students from Dr Devin Hunter’s undergraduate Public History class and Dr Ken Owen’s graduate History and Digital Media class. It is also part of a national movement connecting communities and universities through the practice of local history. More background on the national movement can be found here. For more information on the UIS History Harvest, see our Frequently Asked Questions page.