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Sol Cohen was a violinist, composer, conductor, and educator from Urbana, Illinois, who was well known and regarded in the music world, especially in Los Angeles throughout the 1920s. Cohen was born in Urbana on January 11, 1891, to prominent cigar manufacturer Nathaniel H. Cohen and Addie Bernstein Cohen. He studied under French violinist Emile Sauret in Chicago through the early 1900s before traveling to Europe in 1908 to study in Prague, Budapest, and Paris. He wrote of his experiences in his memoir, Years of Pilgrimage: Memoirs of an American Musician, saying, “I left Europe with a very fair technical equipment, a large repertoire, and a mind stored with oceans of excellent music and the stuff of the continental concert halls.”

In the fall of 1911 Cohen made his Chicago debut at the Fine Arts Music Hall, and the following year he auditioned for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and earned a position in the first violin section and the orchestra’s String Quartet.… Read More

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The O. Batson Hinman Papers, 1898-1899 (MS 794) contain the military documents, newspaper clippings, photographs, and diary of O. Batson Hinman, a Corporal of the regiment Company B from Newton, Illinois in the Spanish-American War.

Hinman was born in Newton in Jasper County, Illinois, and enlisted at the age of 19. His military record describes him as 5 feet 11 inches tall with a dark complexion, brown eyes, and black hair, and he was occupied as a clerk. On May 20, 1898, Hinman was promoted to Corporal in the Company B of the 4th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers.

The Spanish-American War was a short-lived conflict in 1898 between the United States and Spain that derived from the United States’ economic interest in Cuba.… Read More

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The Great American People Show was a not-for-profit theater company known for plays about American history, with a particularly strong focus on Abraham Lincoln’s life and legacy. GAPS, as it became known, was a regional favorite in Illinois. Beginning in 1976, the theatre ran for twenty seasons in New Salem, near Springfield, until the company’s dissolution in 1996. In 1995, Illinois designated “The Great American People Show” as the official “state theatre of Lincoln and the American Experience.”

John Ahart, a theatre professor at the University of Illinois, founded GAPS to present history through evocative and educational theatre, and he served as the company’s artistic director and leader as they moved forward.… Read More

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Oliver R. Barrett was a lawyer and collector who, at the time of his death in 1950, had the largest collection of Lincoln books, manuscripts, and artifacts in the country. Born in Jacksonville, Illinois, on October 14, 1873, Barrett moved with his family moved to Pittsfield, the county seat of Pike, when he was young. There Barrett began collecting autographs of famous people. He reached out to individuals of interest, including former president Rutherford B. Hayes, by sending his autograph book in the mail and asking recipients to sign their name before sending it on to the next person listed in his book. … Read More

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Eva Katharine Clapp Gibson was a writer born in Bradford, Illinois, on August 10, 1857. Gibson lived on her family’s farm for the first eleven years of her life with her parents, Henry and Ann (Ely) Clapp; when her mother passed away when Gibson was eleven, she went to live with her married sister. Gibson attended school at Amboy, Illinois, the Dover Academy, and later the Milwaukee Female College. At the age of sixteen, Gibson went to visit cities in the eastern U.S. and decided to teach school in western Massachusetts before returning to Illinois. In 1892 she married Charles Brockway Gibson, a chemist from Chicago who attended the University of Illinois, and she studied German and French literature for a year in Europe before the couple settled in Chicago.… Read More

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Elizabeth Packard was a reformer in the 1860s and 1870s who advocated for the legal rights of married women and mental health patients. Born Elizabeth Parsons Ware in 1816 in Ware, Massachusetts, she married Theophilus Packard Jr., a Calvinist minister, in 1839. The couple moved to Kankakee, Illinois, and had six children together.

In 1860, Packard’s husband had her committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane based on his personal observations that she seemed “slightly insane” to him. Reverend Packard’s decision to commit his wife stemmed from her expression of religious beliefs that conflicted with his own doctrine. In many states in the 1800s, a husband was legally able to institutionalize his wife, and Packard had no options to challenge his decision.… Read More

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Catharine Waugh McCulloch was a lawyer, suffragist, and activist. She was born Catharine Waugh in New York in 1862, and her family later moved to Illinois, where she was raised. She graduated from the Rockford Female Seminary in 1882 where she wrote a thesis, “Woman’s Wages,” and earned both her B.A. and M.A. degrees. She went on to study at the Union College of Law in Chicago, and after she graduated, Waugh was admitted to the Illinois state bar in 1886. She searched for a position with a Chicago law firm, but she found that there were few opportunities for female lawyers, despite her skills and qualifications, so she returned to Rockford to establish a practice there.… Read More

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To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Illinois ratifying the 19th amendment, the IHLC is exhibiting Votes for Women, an exhibit on the women’s suffrage movement in Illinois. Read about Graduate Assistant Allison Kilberg’s experience and insights researching and curating this exhibit.

How did the idea for this exhibit come about?

A few months ago, while doing research for another project, I stumbled upon some really cool women’s suffrage postcards from the Baker-Busey-Dunlap Family Papers (MS 830). I knew I wanted to display them at some point, so when I started brainstorming ideas for our spring exhibit they were at the front of my mind. … Read More

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The Hal Seaberg Travelogues and Correspondence, 1939-1942 (MS 1013) describe the travels of Carl Hjalmar Seaberg (who went by Hal), a Swedish immigrant and steelworker who spent his summers from 1939 to 1942 visiting sites related to Abraham Lincoln. He worked in a steel plant in Midland, Pennsylvania, and would use his vacation days to travel for two weeks over the summers.

Seaberg immigrated to the United States from Sweden around 1923. In the introduction to his first travelogue, “Twice a Pilgrim through the Lincoln Country,” he described how he set out to learn about his new country:

His study of American history led Seaberg to Abraham Lincoln.… Read More

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Leonard Volk was an American sculptor famous for making one of only two life masks of Abraham Lincoln. Volk was born in Wellstown (now Wells), New York, in 1828, and his family later moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for his father’s trade as a marble cutter. Volk joined his father in this work, and he later went to St. Louis in 1848 to study drawing and sculpture.

In 1852 Volk married Emily Clarissa King Barlow, whose cousin, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, supported Volk’s art and provided financial assistance for Volk to study in Rome. Volk settled in Chicago upon his return and opened a studio there in 1857.… Read More

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