By Lynn Colburn
The Jacksonville Area Museum, located in the old Post Office building at 301 East State St., hosted its first private event on Sunday, October 24 from 3-5 p.m. More than 80 people, wearing the required masks, meandered through the exhibits featuring items such as yearly booklets, minutes, tea table items and more from all the local area literary societies. Exhibits were spread out throughout the museum space. Exhibit space even included a glimpse at the old mail handling and sorting area that has been earmarked for future development as funds are raised for its expansion.
Jacksonville Area Museum Board Chair David Blanchette welcomed all the visitors. The museum is an all-volunteer organization and does not charge admission, but gladly accepts donations and welcomes people to join through membership. Blanchette reminded people that Morgan County Historical Society books were available that evening, thanks to Jessica Gale of Our Town Books, and are also available at Our Town Books in downtown Jacksonville on a regular basis.
Karen Sibert, representing the Morgan County Historical Society, thanked guests for coming and said she and her husband, Bob, are thrilled to see the fruition of all the hard work creating the museum in the old Post Office space. She said the Morgan County Historical Society is in the process of rebuilding its organization and is sure guests will hear from them. In the meantime, she asked that people support the museum and the Morgan County Historical Society publications for sale at the central desk that evening and at Our Town Books.
Mary Henry, current president of the Wednesday Class literary society said, “The literary traditions of our current literary societies were preceded by the men’s literary societies at Illinois College – the first one being established in 1843. Although there have been times the literary societies have met together since then – in 1895.” Henry noted, “The newspaper reported that 150 guests met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Ayers, and the newspaper called it ‘a massing of literary genius.’” The crowd chuckled. Henry invited people to stop at the east gallery on their way out to enjoy the beautiful flowers from the ladies of Sorosis and the tea table from the members of Wednesday Class. To-go plates were prepared for guests to take tea table goodies home with them.
Local literary societies include College Hill, Household Science, Literary Union, Monday Conversation Club, Sorosis, The Club, The History Class, Wednesday Class and The Tuesday Club (which is sadly no longer in existence). The Illinois College literary societies include Gamma Delta, Chi Beta, Phi Alpha, Sigma Pi and Sigma Phi Epsilon.
The event exhibits featured the rich history of all the local literary societies through their exhibits and discussions with their members. All the local literary societies in Jacksonville, including the Illinois College literary societies, were represented. The exhibit will be up for the following week until members collect their exhibits.