Steady Does It: American Sentiments Personified by Uncle Sam 1942-1952

Uncle Sam. The personification of the United States Government. The paternalistic captain at the helm of the Republic, through tempests and torrents. A steadying constant since his inception during the War of 1812, right? Well, not exactly. The origin tale of Uncle Sam is one of obscurity, confusion, and mystery. We do not know the exact date of birth of Uncle Sam, nor do we know where his iconography begins and the older character, Brother Jonathan, ends. What we do know is by the 20th century, Uncle Sam was securely in position as a figure who called people to action.

Like Uncle Sam, the Ad Council’s birth is fuzzier than the reasons for their existence. The Council’s founders sought to unite the American people for common causes. They solved and spoke to problems that the federal government could not tackle alone. Constant, yet always evolving, the Ad Council and Uncle Sam reflect the sentiments, hopes, fears, and desires of their times. Is Uncle Sam standing resplendent and regal, as always? Is he dressing down to better relate to the working class? What about his expression? Is he confident? Angry? Determined? Depressed? If pictures are truly worth a thousand words each, then choices by the illustrators hired by the Ad Council can reveal much about the State of the Union.

The earliest usage of Uncle Sam by the Ad Council dates back to 1943. Created in conjunction with the Office of War Information (OWI) and the Council, the Security of War Information campaign utilized a hushing Uncle Sam insignia. The Security of War Information campaign implored citizens to be careful about what information they shared, regardless of how much faith they had in the receiver of said information. Uncle Sam’s disapproving librarian glare cut to the heart of the issue: your silence was golden. No matter the importance of what you were sharing, it was ruining the lives of other users of “library” materials. People took to this metaphor like flies to honey. Companies were encouraged by the OWI and Ad Council to spread this code of silence through their advertising.

While the campaign was popular, an official propaganda office was not. Created by Executive Order 9182 in the summer of 1942, the OWI operated as a governmental counterpart to the Council. Both worked to present a unified message to the American people. Whereas the Ad Council was a non-profit entity outside of the purview of the government, the OWI was explicitly an American propaganda agency. President Roosevelt, like the founders of the Ad Council, recognized the importance of an organized delivery of information. As the OWI and the Council celebrated their first success, people within and without the government spoke out against the OWI’s existence. The department was not free from controversy, however. Those who did not oppose a propaganda office in concept felt that previous attempts were heavily flawed and unsuccessful. The press worried about the influence the government could wield over the media. Members of Congress even feared that the Office could eventually resemble the Nazi propaganda apparatus created by Joseph Goebbels. The agency’s operations and influence were quickly curtailed. Despite this, the OWI and the Council continued their cooperation throughout the war.

Another product of this union was a series of victory garden advertisements produced from 1944 to the end of the war. Uncle Sam features prominently in most ads, meant to take up either half or a whole broadsheet newspaper page. For Once, Uncle Sam is not dressed to the nines. He has his sleeves rolled up. His brow is furrowed, with visible beads of sweat. In others, he brandishes garden implements as if they are weapons of war, daring the viewer to take up the fight. As a character, Uncle Sam can personify sentiments that the federal government as an abstract entity cannot. By showing Uncle Sam in more practical attire, the artist puts the viewer and the government on equal footing, a “we’re all in this together, your fight is our fight” kind of thing. Images of Uncle Sam and gardening tools as weapons attempt to link groups with unequal responsibilities. The Council wanted to make victory gardeners feel more connected to the war front. All Americans had to make sacrifices to best the Axis Powers. Even if you cannot pick up a rifle, the Council and OWI wanted to acknowledge your labor and show thanks.

To the victor, the spoils of war, the saying goes. The United States and its allies achieved total victory over the Axis powers. While the world celebrated the end of the conflict, the Ad Council and the Federal Government looked wearily ahead to the struggles to come. Both the Ad Council and the State Department agreed that a new war was on the horizon, albeit one fought within the hearts and minds of people. To win the Cold War, the US government needed to counteract Soviet propaganda at home and abroad.

One of these attempts was a series of pamphlets titled The Miracle of America. Here, Uncle Sam lectures the reader on the basics of the economy. The Ad Council (through the guise of Uncle Sam) states that America possessed a bounty of natural resources and an innovative spirit capable of taking full advantage of its situation. Uncle Sam admitted that American Capitalism is far from perfect. In the same breath, he states that our rise as a global power and the prosperity of our Nation would not be possible without it. The text juxtaposes two different concepts of what Uncle Sam represents. Firstly, we have Uncle Sam, the wise paternalistic leader of the Nation. While still friendly, there is a power imbalance inherent in the relationship between Uncle Sam and his “nieces and nephews.” He is the adult in the room. He is the authority on all subjects. All Americans must mind their Uncle Sam or suffer the consequences.

On the other, we have the proletariat Uncle Sam, the laborer hard at work around his “homestead.” This Uncle Sam does not awe you into submission with pomp and circumstance. He is an honest man, a simple one at that. This Uncle Sam is a paragon of American duty and sacrifice in ways that top hat and tails Uncle Sam could never approach. If formal Uncle Sam would host a cocktail party and discuss foreign relations, informal Uncle Sam would share a six-pack and discuss crop yields and issues at home. In short, one is the Federal Government looking outward. The other is when America puts itself under the microscope.

While people were already concerned about the spread of communism, this fear did not make its presence known in Ad Council materials until the beginning of the Korean War. Far from the first flare-up in US-Soviet relations, this was the first instance of armed conflict since World War II. As an avatar for the federal government, a stern but prepared Uncle Sam gears up for a fight he did not ask for but is more than happy to oblige. In this series of images, Uncle Sam returns to his formal attire. The humble Uncle Sam has been retired for one who means business. This Uncle Sam furrows his brows. He is disappointed to see peace be broken so soon after the cataclysm of the Second World War but is more than prepared to defend his vision for the world. The Uncle Sam we saw in earlier editions of The Miracle of America (and to a lesser extent the victory garden material) wanted to peacefully rebuild a better world and focus on getting his house in order. This Uncle Sam will flex his muscles and restore peace, even if he has to break a few bones in the process.

While this concludes one chapter in the history of the Ad Council, there are countless stories waiting to be told about the Council’s 80 years of public service advertising.  Advertising provides a glimpse into the mindsets and culture of those who create it. If you are interested in discovering other hidden stories. I invite you to contact us at the University Archives by email or stop by for a visit.

Selling Freedom: Madison Avenue in Defense of the American Experiment 1945-1950

The year is 1945. The Allies had defeated the Axis powers on three continents. Europe, except for neutral Spain, had been liberated from the evil specter that was fascism. Yet, as the ink dried on Germany’s capitulation, a new war appeared on the horizon. This new conflict was waged not on the battlefield but in the boardroom. Not on the Seine but with signs, posters, and bulletins. This war would be as frigid as the taigas and tundra of the Siberian landscape, with main combatants separated by thousands of miles and an infinitely wider political chasm. Little did they know, they were witnessing the dawn of the Cold War. But how does one win a war without physical battlefields? If you asked the Truman administration, the answer was on Madison Avenue.

The Advertising Council cut its teeth promoting government initiatives during the Second World War. While the boots on the ground fought overseas, the Ad Council was waging a war of its own in publications. To make good on President Roosevelt’s “Arsenal of Democracy” broadcast, Madison Avenue marshaled their marketing experience to sell the American people the importance of their individual contributions to the war effort. Images and broadcasts bombarded Americans, summoning everyday citizens to do their duty to triumph in this existential conflict. As one Ad executive stated in 1944, “So advertising, the voice of American industry, foolishly denounced by some as wasteful, sometimes despised as frivolous and actually marked for destruction by extremists in various governmental agencies, has modestly accomplished tasks essential to the United States and to a free world.[1]

In this 1949 ad, the Ad Council announces that America is hiring “full time citizens” to build on the triumphs achieved by the American people.

Despite the end of armed conflicts in 1945, the wartime advertising apparatus did not dissolve. Both the Ad Council and the State Department agreed that a new war was on the horizon, albeit one fought within the hearts and minds of people. To win the Cold War, the US government needed an organized front to counteract Soviet propaganda at home and abroad, “The Radio Allocation plan is an excellent example of the teamwork in advertising that epitomizes the Council. After seven years, it still looks to many like the instrument which one national radio advertiser once called it: Perhaps the most powerful weapon for public service ever devised.[2]

Found on the rear of a pamphlet titled Freedom is Everybody’s Job, this questionnaire asks if the reader has been doing their due diligence as a citizen.

Before the Korean War, the “most powerful weapon for public service ever devised” was squarely aimed at reminding Americans what made America different from other countries in the world. The American Heritage Foundation ran several campaigns imploring Americans to take advantage of their freedoms and be more active democratic participants. The campaign admitted that the American system was flawed but stressed the importance of a politically engaged populace for a thriving democracy. Union members who never attended meetings, stockholders who sat idly on top of their profits, and parents who did not join the local PTA were all called out as hindrances. Their laziness contrasted with the “full time citizen” who embodied the principles outlined by the founders of the Nation. The ads implored Americans to diligently and willfully perform all the tasks expected of them as full citizens of the United States to truly “work for freedom.”

After consulting with the Truman administration on “the national economy, national defense, and foreign relations,”[[3] the Council created the American Economic System campaign. First released in early 1949, it sought to explain the economic virtues of the United States and its brand of capitalism. This campaign featured ads that the Council helped place in newspapers and magazines, promoting the uniqueness of the United States. The campaign explicitly connected the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution to the virtues of capitalism. Because of American capitalism, as the campaign materials claimed, people from all over the world flocked to the United States to escape famine and persecution.

Found on page 15 of the fifth edition of the Miracle of America, Uncle Sam encourages his fellow Americans to use the tools of democracy to build a healthier and stronger America.

Simultaneously, the Ad Council produced a pamphlet titled The Miracle of America which used Uncle Sam to lecture the reader on the basics of the economy. Uncle Sam explained that America was blessed with a bounty of natural resources and an innovative spirit capable of taking full advantage of its situation. The competitive nature inherent in capitalism made the US robust and resilient to whatever fate threw at the American people. The Ad Council’s pamphlet included several graphs that demonstrated how much better off the average American was. The average American worker made nearly twice as much as their contemporaries in the second most prosperous state, Canada.

In addition, the pamphlet sought to assuage fears of automation rendering American jobs obsolete. Between the post-war demobilization and the introduction of newer and more efficient machines, Americans worried about the long-term security of their jobs. Uncle Sam assured them that the introduction of new machines would not only create new jobs but continue to make lives easier. In his own words, “the machine isn’t an enemy, it’s a friend – and anything which helps us to turn out more work adds to our strength and prosperity.”[4]

Thanks to American’s industries being an ocean away from the brunt of the conflict, the United States was in a unique position to influence the restructuring of nations around the world. The Ad Council reminded Americans that they were truly lucky in more ways than one. There was much to be thankful for, and even more work to be done. If the United States wanted to make the world safe for democracy, its citizens needed to get their house in order as well.

While this concludes one chapter in the history of the Ad Council, there are countless stories waiting to be told about the Council’s 80 years of public service advertising.  Advertising provides a glimpse into the mindsets and culture of those who create it. If you are interested in discovering other hidden stories. I invite you to contact us at the University Archives by email or stop by for a visit.


“Advertising and the War Effort.” Collier’s, August 26, 1944.

Ketchum, Alton. The Miracle of America. 5th Edition. New York, New York: The Advertising Council, 1950.

“Minutes of Meeting December 16, 1948.” Meeting Notes. New York, New York, December 16, 1948.

“Public Service by Radio Networks & Advertisers … 12 Months of 1948.” New York, New York: The Advertising Council, 1948.



Capturing Campus Life During a Pandemic

By Bethany Anderson and Jessica Ballard

Image courtesy of University Housing, which created and gave us permission to use this flyer.

A photo of a desolate street. A video journal entry. A student’s hip hop performance. A screenshot of a Zoom meeting. These are but a few examples of submissions that the University of Illinois Archives has received as part of a call to the campus community to share their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the last few weeks, life at the University of Illinois has drastically changed in response to Governor Pritzker’s “stay-at-home” order: students and faculty have shifted in-person courses to remote instruction; most staff are working remotely in their homes; and meetings that were once in-person are now conducted primarily by video conference. The impact of these changes to daily life has been profound and disruptive. What’s become clear is that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every part of the University of Illinois community–from building workers to students, faculty, staff, and alumni–and it is affecting everyone in different ways.

An example of a submission: Professor Larry DeBrock, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics, during a webinar on the economic impact of the coronavirus. This photo was taken in his home studio with ad-hoc sound-proofing.

We are living in an unprecedented time, one which future researchers will want to study in order to understand what it was like to live through this pandemic. The Archives wants to ensure that these experiences are captured and preserved for future generations, whether they are in the form of artwork, an email to a colleague, a photo of one’s remote workspace, or a written or recorded snapshot of one’s experience at a specific moment in time.

Consider sharing your story with the Archives. Submissions may be made through this form: The form will remain open through December 31, 2020, but the deadline may be extended if needed. Submissions may also be anonymous. Your submission does not necessarily need to be a digital item–the Archives is also accepting physical items for donation once we resume onsite operations.

Please contact Bethany Anderson (Natural and Applied Sciences Archivist) and Jessica Ballard (Archivist for Multicultural Collections and Services) with questions about this initiative.

“In the Present Uncertain Situation”: Scarlet Fever at the University of Illinois, 1914

Man smiles from inside the Emergency Hospital during the 1914 Scarlet Fever outbreak. Image 0011593.

As life drastically changes for students, faculty, and staff at the University of Illinois and across the country, it may help to remember that this is not the first time that the University has faced a disruptive health crisis. Multiple outbreaks have peppered the University’s past, including the flu, smallpox, and scarlet fever. In 1914, a scarlet fever epidemic disrupted student life and spurred the University into action.

The Daily Illini reported the first student with scarlet fever in 1914 on February 10. By February 12, four more students were confined to the Burnham Hospital in Champaign. The spread of scarlet fever prompted Thomas A. Clark, the Dean of Men, to put out a statement, “In the present uncertain situation with regard to scarlet fever no one can afford to take unnecessary risk.” Clark urged sick students to see a physician, to isolate themselves until their diagnosis was confirmed, and not to attend class if they were sick. [1] Continue reading ““In the Present Uncertain Situation”: Scarlet Fever at the University of Illinois, 1914”

John C. Houbolt: The Man Behind the Lunar-Orbit-Rendezvous

On May 25th, 1961, President John F. Kennedy called for the nation to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 successfully landed on the surface of the moon, and 6 hours after landing Commander Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface. This July 20th will mark the 50th anniversary of that historic event, and in honor of that day, a University of Illinois Archives exhibit calls attention to alumnus John C. Houbolt (B.S. 1940, M.S. 1942). For without his work and advocacy, the brave Apollo 11 astronauts would never have made it home.

Houbolt was a NASA aerospace engineer from Joliet, Illinois who developed the unpopular idea that to land a man on the moon and return safely, the only way was to use his concept of Lunar-Orbit-Rendezvous (LOR) and a lunar landing module. At the time the prevailing ideas for landing on the moon were Direct Descent or Earth-Orbit-Rendezvous. Neither of which would be cost-effective or feasible. The Lunar-Orbit-Rendezvous eventually became the ideal and safest way to accomplish a moon landing.

There are always scientists and engineers who may be responsible for the success of historic events but who remain anonymous to popular history. Without Houbolt’s idea and persistence, this event would not have been possible. So that he is not just a footnote in history our exhibit opens a window into the work and life of John C. Houbolt.


For an informative account of Houbolt’s contribution visit NPR’s 1A interview with Todd Zwillich, “Fly Me To The Moon: Apollo 11 and The Unsung Hero Who Made It Happen”

Overlooked Campus Landmarks Turn 150

How many times have you gone down 4th St. by the Armory or Huff Hall? Probably hundreds of times, right? It so happens that when you do, you’re passing some of the last vestiges of the Illinois Industrial University, as the U of I was called 150 years ago.

Where are these vestiges? Just look up. It’s the trees—several tall, shaggy Austrian Pines, to be precise. They are all that’s left of a series of windbreaks that were planted 150 years ago this week, between June 1 and June 7, 1869.

With both Champaign and Urbana having Tree City USA designations today, it’s hard to believe that in 1868, when the first students arrived, the only landscape feature, aside from the lone sycamore south of Gregory Hall, was one, lone university building surrounded by acres and acres of open fields. It’s not surprising that one Trustee even said that “the University Building looked like a stake driven into the ground.” At least one student wrote home to bemoan the mud and desolation in which she found herself.

Enter the College of Agriculture, which in 1869 planted several windbreaks on what they considered the far edges of an imagined, future campus. They included a hedge of osage orange, many silver maples, Norway spruces, red cedar, and 110 Austrian pines planted along 4th street to protect the experimental orchards. It’s all described in considerable detail in the Trustee’s Report of March 1870, right down to the locations and how many feet apart they planted the trees.  At last, something besides a lone building existed on what was to become the tree-studded campus of one of the world’s great universities.

Want to see these original, living relics? There are still about a dozen of the Austrian Pines found on the east side of 4th St from just west of the Armory to the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Ave.  For one of the most distinctive groups, look for the five tall trees directly behind the construction sign for the Siebel Center for Design,  just south of Huff Hall.

Or, if you’re at the northeast corner of the Armory and 4th St., you’ll see a lone, tall tree standing like an umbrella. Stand by its trunk and look south to see the trunks of three more that are partially hidden from the street by lower growing trees.

A further one is near the southernmost door of Huff Hall. Until they were removed this spring, two more could be found immediately west of the Art and Design Building. All these trees date back to 150 years ago this week, making them the oldest mark left on the landscape by the University of Illinois. They even predate Mumford House, the oldest University building. There is nothing else on campus—not a building, not a marker—that connects so closely to the beginnings of this university.

It’s important to respect and pay attention to our landscape, especially when there are building projects, or else we’ll lose part of the identity of this university. It’s part of what makes this campus the attractive place that people remember.  The natural environment is fragile. Take note of these ‘monuments’ while they are still here.

Found in the Archives: Alta Gwinn Saunders and the Art of Business Communication

In June 1948, Alta Gwinn Saunders boarded a plane for New York, in order to speak with her publisher about a third printing of her book, Effective Business English, and then to travel on to the seventy-fifth annual Delta Gamma convention. She had been a faculty member at the University of Illinois for thirty years and a full professor for ten. In addition, she both edited and wrote for The Anchora and was nationally recognized as a founder of the field of business communication. Her plane never arrived, crashing near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, and killing all aboard. Saunders’ death left the University of Illinois, Delta Gamma, and the wider academic and business communities “shocked and saddened.” [1]

Alta Gwinn Saunders, University Archives, Series 39/2/25, Box 3

This past July, the University Archives received a copy of the second (1939) edition of Effective Business English as a part of a routine records transfer from the Gies College of Business. Although the title may seem a bit dry, it is truly quite intriguing. The book’s content draws readers into an era of business both foreign and familiar. Saunders’ book, first published in in 1925, is aimed at teaching “the business correspondent to use written English as a powerful, effective business tool” [2] through an exploration of the nature of business correspondence and its reliance on a knowledge of culture. She wrote:

A knowledge of human nature is the basis of sympathetic understanding. It helps a correspondent to write in some degree as if he were face to face with a person. It enables him to talk to a reader; not down to him or at him. [3]

The text is filled with examples of business letters and reports, illustrations of “attractive letterheads,” and practical insights into the principles and characteristics of business writing. Saunders remarked that “custom and manner can be acquired only by being exposed to them through reading good letters.” [4] A product of their time, some example letters in Effective Business English read much like a foreign language to modern audiences, giving insight into a world of personalized, direct-by-mail sales:

Dear Miss Smith:

Never have we been more excited about new millinery fashions than we are right now! They’ve never been so dramatic, so inspired, so different–and with it all–so wearable. And never has your hat been more important as a definite part of your ensemble–asa bold accent of color, perhaps, to lend your costume spice. Its selection, therefore, is a matter of thought and consideration Leschin’s is well able to render.

Just to give you a birds eye view of our spring millinery selection, we are sending these sketches to you. We hope they’ll intrigue you enough to make you come in and let us find YOUR hat for you. For whether you plan to look tailored or acquire the devastatingly feminine Margot look, we have the perfect hat to complete your costume picture.

You’ll note two very amazing things, too–that you may pick up a casual little hat for as low as $7.50–AND–you may have an exclusive model made in our workroom for as little as $12.50–and that IS news!

Even if you are not ready to select your hat now–won’t you come in and let us show these new things to you, while our collection is so complete? [5]

Still, there is a timelessness to many of Saunders’ lessons. She emphasizes clarity and conciseness, use of positive suggestion, attention to use and overuse of slang, and general courtesy. Saunders’ work remains the foundation of business communication practices today, underscoring basic principles of business conduct through a command of “good English.”

View of Green Street, ca. 1922, showing The Green Teapot tea room on the right, University Archives, Series 39/2/22, Box 96

An accomplished businesswoman and prominent academic, Saunders made her mark on the university as a determined scholar and educator. She earned her Bachelor’s (1907) then Master’s (1910) degrees in English and later returned to the university as an Instructor of Business English in 1918. Having successfully helped run a household of four sisters, founded the Delta Gamma sorority, opened and managed The Green Teapot tea room, and co-managed the Flat Iron Department Store, Saunders’ practical business experience was both diverse and exemplary. [6] By 1925, she had been appointed as an Associate Professor of Business English and ten years later, she helped found the American Business Writing Association (later renamed the Association for Business Communication). In 1938, at a time when women were almost universally shut out of the upper levels of academe, Saunders’ accomplishments earned her promotion to the rank of Full Professor.

Saunders’ legacy can perhaps best be summed up in these closing words from her 1925 book, Your Application Letter:

The world is just as much yours as it is any one’s else and for most people success depends upon concentration, combined with intelligent and persistent effort. [7]


A description of the full collection, Alta Gwinn Saunders Publications, 1929-1951 (Record Series 9/2/27), is now available. For more information on Alta Gwinn Saunders, her achievements, and publications, visit the University Archives and browse her file in the Alumni and Faculty Biographical (Alumni News Morgue) File, 1882-1995 (Record Series 26/4/1), or contact the archives for information on requesting access to her file in the Staff Appointments File, 1905-2001 (Record Series 2/5/15).

[1] Spindel, Carol, “Alta Gwinn Saunders: The Invention of Business English,” The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie, (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2017), 66.

[2] Saunders, Alta Gwinn, Effective Business English, 2nd edition, (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1939), v.

[3] Effective Business English, 19.

[4] Effective Business English, 26-7, 33.

[5] Effective Business English, 232-3.

[6] Spindel, 63.

[7] Saunders, Alta Gwinn, Your Application Letter, (Urbana: University of Illinois Supply Store, 1925), Conclusion.

The Four Color Theorem Project


Students work on arranging and describing Kenneth Appel’s Papers.

From October to November 2017, the Illinois Geometry Lab’s program devoted to showcasing undergraduate Mathematics students’ research worked with the University Archives to arrange and describe Kenneth Appel’s personal papers. In 1976, Kenneth Appel and his colleague Wolfgang Haken (both Mathematics faculty members at the University of Illinois), succeeded in proving the “Four Color Theorem.” This theorem argues that every map in a plane or a sphere can be colored with only four colors in such a way that no two countries of the same color are touching. By that time, mathematicians had been working to prove this theory for over one hundred years. In fact, it took hundreds of hours of computing work for Appel and Haken to prove it. The announcement that the theory had been proven was met with a flood of people writing to them. Some were writing to congratulate the team and others to prove the team wrong.

The students worked alongside the archives staff to learn more about the archival process by appraising the material, arranging and describing it, and rehousing the materials in archival boxes, all while taking an historical approach to mathematics, using primary sources to learn more about Appel, his research, and the ways in which the mathematics community reacted to what was then a controversial finding. Kenneth Appel’s Papers include correspondence relating to the Four Color Theorem that illustrates both in number and in tone, the storm of letters that Appel and Haken were bombarded with at the time. Some notable letters include a teacher that says his eighth graders were able to prove the theory wrong and an account of a $100 bet that was made that the theory could not be solved by July 1976, including a photocopy of the $104 dollar check (the four dollars being paid for “interest”). The record series also includes publicity materials, drafts of papers, and data printouts and computer punch cards, much of which relates to the Four Color Theorem.

On Saturday, November 4, 2017, the students will host an exhibit featuring materials from the collection. The exhibit will be a part of the Illinois Geometry Lab Open House which is being held in conjunction with the Department of Mathematics’ Four Color Fest, an event being held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the proof. You can also see the exhibit in room 146, University Archives, December 8, 2017-January 31, 2018!

Mapping History at the University of Illinois

By Ellen Swain

In January 2016, James Whitacre (GIS Specialist), Marci Uihlein (Professor/Architecture), and Ellen Swain (Student Life and Culture Archivist) received Library Innovation Funds to develop a project entitled Mapping History at the University of Illinois—a “bringing together” of GIS, architecture and archives to tell the University’s story in time for the Sesquicentennial year.

The three project components include:

Campus History:  Brief narratives (written by project historian John Franch) and covering themes across seven historic eras, integrating GIS story maps and architectural modeling, and archival holdings

Check out this Fly-through of University Hall (1871-1938) from Depression Era:

Interactive Campus Maps:  GIS time-enabled map; 3-D modeling, and story maps produced (with James Whitacre’s assistance) by Joe Porto, Scholarly Commons graduate assistant, undergraduate student assistants and interns.  Jessica Ballard, Archives Faculty Resident, created the African American Housing history map.

Check out this Story map of Illinois Field:

Digital Map Archives: 525 campus, community and county maps from University Archives, Map Library and Champaign County Historical Archives holdings, conserved by Conservation and digitized by Digital Services.

Check out the archives here:

Through this project, we hope to inspire and showcase student scholarship about the University of Illinois.  We are continually adding new content.