By Lynn Colburn

“Literary Ladies: The First 130 Years of the Wednesday Class” won the 2022 Illinois State Historical Society’s “Best of Illinois History” award. The award was presented at the 123rd annual meeting held Saturday, April 9 at 11:30 a.m. at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, 420 South Sixth St. More than 35 nominees were awarded for their outstanding achievements and publications on Illinois history.

Springfield Historical Society Executive Director William Furry believes that this year’s group of nominees is especially memorable: “It has been a great year for history in Illinois, despite the pandemic. Although it virtually shut down the state, COVID-19 created opportunities for Illinois historians, historical societies and museums to create special projects that tell our Prairie State stories. Now it’s time to celebrate their achievements.”

Presentation of the awards followed the luncheon and a short annual meeting.

“Literary Ladies: The First 130 Years of the Wednesday Class,” co-authored by Cathy Green, Dr. Linda Ryan and Suzanne Verticchio, focuses on the lives of members as well as what was happening during different time periods. The book includes photos, maps and favorite tea recipes.

This book is an excellent read to learn more about Jacksonville history during different world events. It peaks into the windows of the lives of the Wednesday Class literary women, much of which hasn’t been known before. It gives their personal look insight into literary societies, their families and the community; it even gives glimpses of the world through their eyes.

According to a book review by author and Illinois College Professor Emeritus of History Steve Hochstadt, “‘Literary Ladies’ documents and celebrates one of Jacksonville’s unique historical features: the existence of multiple male and female literary societies since the middle of the 19th century.”

“We felt this was a hidden world of our local history,” says Ryan.

She adds, “I don’t think there are any other publications that tell how a literary club in Jacksonville like this works, the history of the club and especially about the lives of the women. To me, that is extremely exciting.”

“We are extremely honored to be recognized by the State Historical Society. This honor gives value to our belief and research that so much history can be gleamed through these literary societies,” says Green.

The book is available at Our Town Books, located at 64 East Central Park Plz. in Jacksonville. Reach the bookstore additionally at 217-245-2665 or ourtownbooks.com.

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