Historical Collections

Objects and archival materials throughout the Museum’s art, anthropology, and natural history collections shed light on the history of Illinois and the Midwestern U.S.

Visitors tour the Research & Collections Center during Open House program.

History Collections Online

Amish Quilt Gallery
You can learn about the history of quilts created by Illinois Amish women of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The images and information are from the Museum publication Illinois Amish Quilts: Sharing Threads of Tradition, which can be purchased from the Museum by consulting the Publications Web page or telephoning the Museum.

Frank Sadorus Photograph Collection Introduction
Learn about the photographs of Frank Sadorus (1880-1934), a descendant of a pioneer family who founded Sadorus in east central Illinois. He lived and worked on the family farm, but during the off-season he photographed the people and landscape he knew intimately.

Frost Trade Bead Collection
Beginning in 1848, Stephen Allen Frost peddled beads and broadcloth among the Plains Indians as an itinerant merchant. His enterprise lasted longer than that of other traders because of his business acumen and that of his son, Dan. Learn about this collection of 71 trade bead sample cards from the Stephen A. Frost and Son Company and the men behind this interesting company.

Harvesting the River Archives
Explore multimedia archives pertaining to the life and natural history of the Illinois River in the early 20th Century.

Morton D. Barker Paperweight Collection Gallery
View the renowned Barker Collection of 252 glass objects including Classical French, British, American, and other Paperweights.

WPA Art Collection Introduction
Learn about the history Works Progress Administration in Illinois and view a sample of the Museum’s extensive Illinois WPA Art Collection.