By: Matthew Hunter
Two years ago on October 14 during his visit to Illinois College, Dr. Khalaf al Habtoor dedicated the archives on Illinois College. Dr. Al Habtoor was a lead donor to help establish the archives through a National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant, and were therefore named in his honor. Located in the basement of Schewe Library, the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives are open to anyone who is interested. They contain unique Illinois College records and documents, ranging in everything from old sports scores and photographs to literary society records and meetings, as well as administrative and faculty records. The ultimate goal of the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives is to collect and preserve documents that tell the stories of Illinois College.
Among the immense historical collections in the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives are documents, newspapers, artifacts, and ephemera (material that is available for a limited period of time). The Archives also boasts a large collection of incunabula (books that were printed before 1501), yearbooks, and Rambler issues. The Archives host a number of historical collections, including a thorough oral history collection and unique collection of rare medical textbooks used at the Illinois College Medical School from 1843 to 1848. Among the artifacts in the Archives are a pair of binoculars from the Civil War era, Edward Beecher’s trunk, and an architect’s model of the Illinois College campus.
During the month of October, the National Archives in Washington D.C. have a nation-wide event known as the National Archives Month. It’s a month when archives choose certain themes in order to engage the public. The Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives is one of thousands of archives across the country to celebrate the National Archives Month, and has chosen a Halloween-ish theme: “What Stories Lurk in the Basement of Schewe?” The theme is basically a ghost story-telling theme, where people get to tell ghost stories that detail the local history of Illinois College and Jacksonville.
The Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives’ main event is the Haunted Hilltop: Legends, Lore, and More from the Archives, where campus and community members will have the opportunity to share unique research and findings that explore Illinois College and Jacksonville hauntings, folklore, legends, and much more. The primary goal of the Haunted Hilltop event is to engage audiences with different ways campus and community members use archives and historical collections. The Haunted Hilltop is scheduled for Thursday, October 27 at 7:00 PM in Kirby 6, where there will be several guest speakers giving presentations on local history. They are Greg Olson of Jacksonville, Lisa Taylor Horton (IC classes of 2007 and 2014), and our very own Grace Graunke (class of 2018).
The Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives have received generous support and donations from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board (ISHRAB). Over the past two years, the NEH has contributed essential funds for our archives. The NEH takes pride in giving money to small libraries, archives, and museums across the state.
The Haunted Hilltop is sponsored by the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives, the Paul Findley Congressional Office Museum, and the Department of History and Political Science. For more cool information about the Archives, please contact Dr. Jenny Barker Devine, Associate Professor of History, or Samantha Sauer, our amazing new archivist. Feel free to visit the Archive’s Facebook page @ICarchives.