Eastern Illinois University Logo
Booth Library |

A Question of History

Exhibit logo

Activities and Events

Wednesday, March 22, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Library Quad
Museums, Mementos and Memory: A Pop-Up Museum

American museums have a higher attendance than all major-league sporting events and theme parks combined. Hosting over 840 million visitors annually, these institutions are charged with protecting our cultural heritage, as well as educating the public about this shared heritage. Through the sale of souvenirs, postcards and educational materials, these institutions encourage visitors to commemorate their experience, engage in further research and share their newly learned knowledge with others.

Souvenirs from museums are mementos of an experience. Examining souvenirs can bring back vivid memories of locations and events, both local and exotic. Souvenirs can also help stimulate forgotten knowledge about associated objects or experiences. This pop-up museum explores the relationship between souvenirs, memory and place by pairing experiences with mementos. Why do people collect souvenirs? Why is it important to remember these places and events? Are these places even worth remembering? Through this analysis, participants will gain a better understanding of their personal connections with historic sites and museums.

Pop-up museums are temporary exhibits that people create through participation. The HA Class of 2017 will accept souvenirs collected at historical sites and museums by students, faculty and community members for this exhibit. Items will be displayed alongside quotes from participants and passersby during the length of the pop-up museum and returned afterward. In order to loan items to be included in the exhibit, please contact Jessica Craig at jlcraig3@eiu.edu.

Feel free to drop by during the exhibit to share your thoughts about the importance of public history, souvenirs and museums.

Thursday, March 30, 7 p.m., West Reading Room, Booth Library
Opening reception
Keynote presentation: The Next 100: The Future of Public History in Illinois
Presented by Illinois State Historian Sam Wheeler

Throughout its statehood, Illinois has celebrated history in a myriad of ways. More than just the “Land of Lincoln,” Illinois boasts a rich heritage of investing in the past. State organizations such as the Illinois State Museum have been critical forces in preserving our shared cultural heritage for over 100 years. Today that legacy continues, as new organizations join with the old in pursuit of a more comprehensive and diverse historical narrative.     

As the state of Illinois approaches its bicentennial in 2018, perspectives and public support of history are constantly changing. The temporary closure of the Illinois State Museum last year, due to the budget freeze in Illinois, caused ripples in the museum community. History also faces challenges in Illinois schools, where it no longer remains an independent part of the curriculum. State historian Dr. Samuel Wheeler will discuss how the past shapes perspectives in Illinois today and how public history will face the challenges of the future as the state turns 200.

Wednesday, April 5, 5:30 p.m., Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library
Finding Yourself: Using Archives to Research Your Family Genealogy 
Presented by Cayla Wagner, graduate student, Historical Administration

Ancestry is relevant to more people than just the rich and the famous. The family history of an EIU student is just as important and useful to historians and the larger historical narrative as that of Abraham Lincoln. Researching your family history strengthens connections, past and present, creating a sense of belonging and purpose. Your family helped make you who you are today; now you can do the same for future generations.

This workshop will teach you how to begin your own family history. Attendees will learn good research habits, where to look for important documents and how to use the Illinois Regional Archives Depository located right here in Booth Library. Registration for this event is recommended, but not required. Please contact Elizabeth Papp to register for this event at eapapp@eiu.edu.

Monday, April 10, 5:30 p.m., Witters Conference Room 4440, Booth Library
A Keeper of History: Archeology, Public History and Preserving the Past
Presented by Michael Wiant, director of Illinois State Museum

Dr. Wiant’s lecture discusses the intricacies of being a “Keeper of History.” From excavating the Elizabeth Site nesting bowls to becoming interim director of the Illinois State Museum, Wiant has been involved in public history in a variety of ways.

Wednesday, April 12, 5:30 p.m., Marvin Foyer, Booth Library
Asking the Question: A Guided Exhibit Tour
Led by Aaron Martin and Hailey Paige, graduate students, Historical Administration

The process of creating an exhibit is a long one, involving many steps. Once a concept has been worked out, exhibit team members decide on an intended audience and survey people in that audience to see if the ideas of the exhibit are getting across. The exhibit team can then decide which artifacts to use to make the point, which may involve getting loans from other institutions.

Exhibit development continues by refining the exhibit’s main idea, determining a budget, deciding how the exhibit will look, creating activities and events to go with the exhibit, and writing labels. Once these major components have been created, more analysis is done to make sure the public can understand them. Manufacturing elements of the exhibit, receiving loans and advertising usually come after that, and only after all of this is completed can the exhibit be installed.

At this event, Aaron Martin and Hailey Paige will lead a special guided tour of A Question of History. During this time, they will highlight certain objects in the exhibit that are of particular interest, and tell the detailed stories of these artifacts and the institutions that care for them. They will also be available to answer questions about the process of creating A Question of History, as well as any specific questions about the exhibit itself.


Wednesday, April 19, 5:30 p.m., Pensees Bookshop, 502 Sixth St., Charleston
Photos, Papers, and Publications: Restoring Personal Documents
Presented by Bob Bertrand, owner of Pensees Books

A large portion of public history, and history in general, involves preservation, conservation and restoration. Each one plays a crucial role in a museum, so that artifacts can survive for historians and the public for generations to come. A book is very different from a geode or a china dish, and so, too, are the needs of each object. They each require special attention and skills to care for. But what exactly are these needs and skills? How does a conservator protect paper? Can an old, crumbling book look brand new again?

Hosted by Bob Bertrand, owner of local Pensees Books, this workshop familiarizes individuals with the basic materials and techniques used in the restoration of old book bindings and their contents. Attendees of the class will learn the true goal of restoration: to present a finished product that most closely resembles the original in both appearance and construction. Space is limited and a reservation is required. Please contact Hailey Paige to register for this event at hpaige@eiu.edu.

Booth LibraryEastern Illinois University Historical Administration