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Alton Prohibition Stories - Part 2

By Ann Davidson, Genealogy & Local History Volunteer

Prohibition 6

Alton Women’s Christian Temperance Union

After its inception in 1878, the Alton chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was one of the most active and long-lived of the temperance societies. They certainly had the highest visibility, based on the number of entries (30 out of 62) in the Alton Evening Telegraph Index 1836‒1933. The last notice of their work was listed in 1928. The women took concrete actions to encourage temperance.9 From 1887, 1901 and c. 1910, they raised money for the installation of three public water fountains so anyone could quench their thirst for free.10 The fountains were located near the old post office room outside city hall, near the waiting rooms of the street railway station, and on Broadway outside the Princess Theater in downtown Alton.11 In 1884, near the Alton glassworks (Illinois Glass Company), the WCTU opened a Sunday school, “the only one in the city superintended by ladies.”12 One of the leaders of all this effort was Mrs. Elizabeth B. Clarkson.

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Alton Prohibition Stories - Part 1

By Ann Davidson, Genealogy & Local History Volunteer

Prohibition 1

Ad in the Alton Evening Telegraph, March 20, 1916

Temperance in 19th Century Alton

The story of Prohibition in Alton starts in the early 19th century. In 1830, Americans drank an average of seven gallons of pure alcohol per year, three times our current consumption, according to Ken Burns in his superb six-hour Prohibition documentary, available at Hayner Public Library.1 However, many people believed that alcohol consumption was the leading cause of social ills in America, and the temperance movement aimed to reduce that consumption. Nathan Scarritt of Scarritt’s Prairie (in the northeastern portion of present-day Godfrey) wrote in an 1845 letter, “No wife ever wept when she saw her husband bring home a bag of flour and no whiskey; but many a woman has wept when she saw her husband bring home a jug of whiskey and no flour.” The movement spread across the United States. 

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125 Gems of the Genealogy & Local History Library: Gems 1‒10

0. 125 years of the Jennie D. Hayner Memorial Library

125 years of the Jennie D. Hayner Memorial Library

The Jennie D. Hayner Memorial Library opened on May 21, 1891, and this building has been a library ever since. It is now the Genealogy & Local History Library, so in honor of the 125th anniversary of the building, we’ve put together 125 Genealogy & Local History gems. The gems are posted on Facebook every few days throughout 2016 with the hashtag #HaynerGenealogyGems and are later available here on the History at Hayner Blog.

 

1.
Meet the matriarch of our library!
For many years Jennie D. Hayner worked tirelessly to keep a library open for the citizens of Alton. She was the wife of prominent businessman John Hayner. After her untimely death in 1888, her husband commissioned the Hayner Library Building at 401 State Street to be built as a memorial to her. The original picture of Jennie is on display in the foyer of the Genealogy & Local History Library. #HaynerGenealogyGems

1. Jennie D. Hayner

 

 

2.
The WPA left a part of U.S. history at the library!
Do you know how much Alton benefitted from the 1933 government program called the Works Progress Administration? This program created many jobs during one of the worst periods in United States history. Part of the Great River Road was built by these workers. They also helped pave streets, operated nursery schools, and assisted in various jobs inside the Alton Recreation Department. Did you know they also worked at Hayner Library with indexing the Alton Telegraph newspaper? It’s a wonderful and invaluable resource that is still being used extensively by the Genealogy & Local History Library! #HaynerGenealogyGems

2. WPA

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NEW DATE! Justice Too Long Delayed: A Celebration of Letters from the Birmingham Jail

“Justice Too Long Delayed: A Celebration of Letters from the Birmingham Jail”
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
11:00 a.m.
SIUE Black Theater Workshop
Benjamin Godfrey Chapel

The Black Theater Workshop is a performance event that celebrates the voices and visions of SIUE’s diverse student population. This year’s production, “Justice Too Long Delayed: A Celebration of Letters from the Birmingham Jail,” is a cutting-edge interpretation of Dr. King’s response to the critics of his presence in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. Using the letters as a backdrop, comparisons of issues of social justice during the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements will be brought to light in a theatrical experience that is both entertaining and insightful. A special presentation will be offered at Lewis & Clark Community College’s Benjamin Godfrey Chapel on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. This event is free and open to the public.

Want to get a little more background information before you attend the performance? Here’s the Letter in full text http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html, and check out these books at the Downtown and Alton Square library branches.

Gospel cover image

Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation by Jonathan Rieder
Available at the Downtown and Alton Square Libraries, call number 323.092 RIE
“I am in Birmingham because injustice is here,” declared Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rieder discusses the timeless message of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, a piece often overshadowed by the more famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

 

the radical king

The Radical King, speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., edited and introduced by Cornel West.
Available at the Downtown and Alton Square libraries, call number 323.1196 KIN
The Radical King includes twenty-three selections, curated and introduced by Dr. Cornel West, that illustrate King’s revolutionary vision, underscoring his identification with the poor, his unapologetic opposition to the Vietnam War, and his crusade against global imperialism.

 

life upon these shores

Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513‒2008 by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Available at the Downtown and Alton Square libraries, call number 973.0496073 GAT
Though published a year before the murder of Trayvon Martin and the start of the official Black Lives Matter movement, Henry Louis Gates’s book, Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513‒2008, traces African American history from the arrival of the conquistadors to the election of Barack Obama. Some of you may recognize Gates’s name from the PBS family history show “Finding Your Roots,” many episodes of which are available to watch free here http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/episodes/.

102 YEARS OF ALTON WOMEN AT THE POLLS ‒ PART 2

By Ann Davidson, Genealogy & Local History Volunteer

Suffragettes

Suffragettes with Flag

Illinois women voted in the 1914 election, but finally, six years later in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution passed, and all American women could vote. The amendment reads: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

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102 YEARS OF ALTON WOMEN AT THE POLLS ‒ PART 1

By Ann Davidson, Genealogy & Local History Volunteer

Suffragette

Several weeks ago, a movie titled Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, and Helena Bonham Carter, was released in theaters across the country. The film tells of the struggle of the founders of the women’s suffrage movement in the 1850s in England. In the United States, that fight was led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It took 70 long years for all American women to get to vote through the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The amendment prohibits state or federal sex-based restriction on voting.

How did the women’s suffrage movement affect the citizens of Alton?

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Highlights of the Hayner Art Collection

03rice01
View of Alton from Maple Island, 1867 by Mrs. Rice

The Hayner Public Library District has existed in some form since 1852, and construction of the Hayner Memorial Library, today the Hayner Genealogy & Local History Library, was completed in 1891. The library has had many generous benefactors over the years, and there have been several major donations of artwork. Last year, I assisted Robert Morrissey, proprietor of Clark Graves Antiques in St. Louis, in completing an appraisal of our art collection for insurance purposes. There were several wonderful discoveries, and you can hear about all of them at one of the Highlights of the Hayner Art Collection programs coming up on March 12 and March 18. Robert will discuss the five most significant pieces of art we have at the Genealogy & Local History Library, including paintings by Frederick Oakes Sylvester, Agnes Millen Richmond, and local artist Victoria Rice.

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Meals on Wheels: Great Migration Recipes Ride the Rails North

meals-on-wheels-flyer

Next week, we will welcome Donna Pierce, a Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities Council, for her program “Meals on Wheels: Great Migration Recipes Ride the Rails North.”  Donna’s websitehttp://donnapierce.com/ has recipes, blog entries, photographs, bios of black chefs, and cookbook recommendations.  Donna has been giving presentations and writing about food and culture for a number of years, and we are thrilled to have her here.

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Happy holidays from the Genealogy & Local History Library!

genealogy-library-stockings
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Happy holidays, everyone!

A fun part of my job is decorating the Genealogy & Local History Library for the holidays.  Kinzels Flower Shop brings in the greenery, and I’m in charge of putting up the stockings. Since we are a history library, I also arrange images of vintage greeting cards on the mantel. Last year, I spent quite a bit of time searching through online postcard collections, Etsy listings (www.etsy.com), and card company catalogs. I started thinking about two major issues in my search.

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