Sesquicentennial Speakers Series

Upcoming Events


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

UIUC Scholarship and the University of Illinois Press: A Century of Partnerships on Campus

University of Illinois Archives, Rm 146 Library, 1408 West Gregory, Urbana, 7pm-8:30pm


Past Events


Thursday, March 2, 2017

The First Years of University of Illinois Student Life With Reflections on Today, 1868-2017

University of Illinois Archives, Rm 146 Library, 1408 West Gregory, Urbana, 7pm-8:30pm

March 2, 1868, marked the first day of class at the newly established Illinois Industrial University. Who were Illinois’ earliest students?  And, how do their experiences compare to Illinois students 150 years later? Join us as Professor Gregory Behle shares his extensive research on student life in the earliest years of the University and Vice Chancellor Renee Romano reflects on Illinois student experience in 2017.  Exhibits and refreshments.

For more information about this event, see: March 2, 2017


Slides from Professor Gregory Behle’s presentation “Educating the Sons of Toil: Student Life at the University of Illinois, the Early Years” are available here.




Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The African American Student Experience at Illinois: The Early Years

Maudelle Brown Bousfield ‘06, First African American female graduate (Illio, 1907)

University of Illinois Archives, Rm 146 Library, 1408 West Gregory, Urbana, 7pm-8:30pm

With opening remarks by Chancellor Robert Jones

African American students enrolled at the University, starting in the late 1880s.  By the turn of the century, black student numbers continued to increase, although in small increments.  Professors Tamara Hoff and Vanessa Rouillon share their research on African American experience in these earliest years on campus and in the Champaign-Urbana community.  They illustrate how these students organized, networked and supported one another through social organizations (such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) and through the local community’s educational and social outlets (specifically, the Bethel AME Church). 

For more information about this event, see: March 29, 2017




Friday, April 28, 2017 

Celebrating The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation

Center for Advanced Studies, Levis Faculty Center, 2nd Floor. 919 W. Illinois Street, Urbana, 5pm-6:30pm

Join us April 28 to celebrate the history of the University. We will hear from Fred Hoxie, editor of the new book, University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation (U of I Press, 2017), which tells the story of our remarkable university through essays and vignettes about key inventions, places, and people. The event will also include short talks from several of the book’s authors, as well as refreshments, a display from the University Archives, discounted copies of the book, and good cheer. Organized by the Department of History.

For more information about The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation, see:




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Premiere of “A Home of Their Own” and Presentation by Deirdre Cobb-Roberts

NCSA Building, Room 1122 2:00-4:00 pm

View the new documentary A Home of Their Own, celebrating the African American community’s role in housing students in the 1930-50s. Deirdre Cobb-Roberts leads a panel of documentary participants in discussion.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Illini Legends, Lists, and Lore: The History of U of I Varsity Athletics 

State Farm Center Legacy Club, 10:30 am-12:00 pm

Author Mike Pearson will discuss the history of Illinois Athletics. This event is in collaboration with the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and will take place the day of the induction of the inaugural class into the University of Illinois Hall of Fame. Book signing to follow. Light refreshments will be provided.

Enter at West Main Entrance; Free parking in SW & NW Lots


Friday, October 13, 2017

Celebrating An Illini Place: Building the University of Illinois Campus

Grainger Engineering Library IDEA Lab, 1301 West Springfield Avenue, Urbana, 3:00-5:00 pm

Join Lex Tate for an engaging talk on her new book (with co-author John Franch) on the University’s built environment. University of Illinois President Emeritus Stanley Ikenberry will introduce the program and provide commentary.

For more information about the book, see:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Men of Vision and Iron-Fisted Control: U of I Deans of Men Thomas Arkle Clark and Fred Turner

University of Illinois Archives, Rm 146 Main Library, 1408 W Gregory, Urbana. 7:00-8:30 pm

Professor Robert Schwartz explores stories of class rivalries and hijinks, student espionage, and the Deans who shaped student life at the University of Illinois from 1901 to 1967 and beyond.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gay Liberation to Campus Assimilation

University of Illinois Archives, Rm 146 Main Library, 1408 W Gregory, Urbana. 7:00-8:30 pm

Patrick Dilley discusses his forthcoming book From Gay Liberation to Campus Assimilation: A History of Midwestern Queer Campus Organizing, with a specific focus on the U of I.




Thursday, October 26, 2017

Black Power on Campus: University of Illinois, 1965-1975

Main Library Room 200, 1408 W Gregory, Urbana 7:00-8:30 pm

Joy Williamson-Lott shares her insights in researching and writing her seminal work, Black Power on Campus:  The University of Illinois 1965-1975.





Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Becoming Father and Son: Robert and John Gregg Allerton and Historical Perspectives on Queer Kinship

University Archives. Main Library Room 146, 1408 W Gregory, Urbana 7:00-8:30 pm

Nick Syrett’s research focuses on the lives and relationship of Robert and John Allerton, donors of the U of I’s Allerton Park.

University Archives Sesquicentennial Speakers Series, in collaboration with the Department of History and with support from the University Library, showcases historical scholarship inspired by records found in the University of Illinois Archives.

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