Madison County Historical Museum Exhibit

A new exhibit, “Ink to Paper: Exploring the Advancement of Letter Writing and its Uses,” has just opened at the Madison County Archival Library at 801 N. Main Street, Edwardsville. In the exhibit, Thompson explores something that is becoming a lost art: letters. The exhibit looks at the instruments used to write them, the various types of letters, and even the stamps that were used to send letters. Many items in the exhibit come from the recently donated Flagg Collection.

Although the museum building remains closed for renovation, the work of the museum continues with exhibits like this one, on-line exhibits and the collection and curation of artifacts that reflect Madison County history. This latest exhibit was created by David Thompson, a graduate student in Historical Studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville who was hired as an intern for the Madison County Historical Museum during the fall semester. He worked under the direction of County Museum curators.

Earlier this year, the Madison County Historical Society was able to obtain a grant from the SIUE Emeriti Faculty Association that made it possible to hire Thomson for the semester. Thompson’s master’s thesis focuses on the use of memory in the message of public art. He is also working on obtaining a certification in Museum Studies, and wants to examine heirloom collecting, and the oral history surrounding it.

The Madison County Archival Library is open to the public Wednesday-Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. Numerous restrictions are in place due to COVID-19, including a mask requirement and limits on the number of visitors allowed in the building at one time. Due to the latter, it is strongly advised that patrons call 618-656-7569 for a reservation before visiting the Library. To browse on-line exhibits, visit


Right (from the exhibit): This letter on the stationery of Illinois Representative Norman G. Flagg is far from official business. It was written by the representative’s son, James Smith Flagg, in 1916 (James is shown in 1912 at age 2).

Archival Library Open With COVID-19 Guidelines

The Archival Library, which has been closed earlier in the pandemic, is open with COVID-19 guidelines to protect patrons and staff. Masks are required and the number of patrons which can be at the library at any given time will be limited to allow for social distancing. Due to this restriction, library staff highly recommend that patrons call and make a reservation before coming. In addition to reserving a time-slot for research, this allows staff to pull needed books and materials to assist with whatever topic the patron is researching.

Library hours are Wednesday – Friday 9-4 and Sunday 1-4. The phone number is 618-656-7569.

2020 Speaker Series

New Museum Exhibit
in Madison County Courthouse

October 3 – Staff of the Madison County Historical Museum have just installed a new exhibit at the Madison County Courthouse on the history of Madison County schools. The exhibit is located in a large display case in the Courthouse rotunda and in a nearby flat case. Visitors will learn what it was like to attend Madison County schools in the past, from kindergarten to Common School graduation to high school. Highlights include an easel, a school bell, and photos of one-room schoolhouses throughout the county. If you plan to go, you may want to leave your cell phone behind, otherwise you’ll need to get a locker (free) since cell phones are not permitted in the courthouse. Photos courtesy of Lynn Engelman.

MCHS Speaker’s Series: Bill Iseminger on Feb 3

On Sunday, February 3, archaeologist Bill Iseminger will kick off the 2019 Madison County Historical Society’s Speakers Series with a lecture on the Ramey Tablet and other Mississippian-style tablets. The program will begin at 2 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Immanuel United Methodist Church at 800 N. Main St. in Edwardsville.

The premier example of Mississippian engraved stone tablets is the Cahokia Birdman Tablet, but there are a number of others, whole or fragmented, that display similar form and style or are unique in their own right, which have been found throughout the region. This includes the famous Ramey Tablet, curated by the Madison County Historical Society. Some have graphics on one side and cross-hatching on the reverse, while others often have cross-hatching on one or both sides or some other combination or treatment. This presentation will compare and contrast over 20 examples of known tablets and tablet fragments associated with the Mississippian Culture.

The presenter, Bill Iseminger, is an archaeologist who has worked at Cahokia Mounds for almost 48 years and currently is assistant manager of the site. He received his BA in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma and his MA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. While in college, he was involved in excavations in South Dakota and several locations throughout southern Illinois, and while at Cahokia he directed public field schools for many years. Today he is in charge of public relations, interpretation, exhibits, and the intern program at Cahokia Mounds. He has written extensively about Cahokia, including his 2010 book, “Cahokia Mounds, America’s First City.” More recently he wrote and illustrated “Identifying and Understanding Artifacts of Illinois and Neighboring States,” published by the Illinois Association for Advancement of Archaeology.

Programs in the MCHS Speakers Series are free and open to the public. Regular hours at the Madison County Archival Library are Wed – Fri, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sun, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. The Madison County Historical Museum is currently closed for renovations. For additional information, call 618-656-1294.

Black and white photo of the Weir House

The Windows Project