WIU Professor Part of National Discussion Group

Western Illinois University Professor Peter Cole has participated in a roundtable group of historians in which they discuss and the television show “The Wire.” The discussion comes in the form of a series of recently published academic papers in Labor, the leading peer-reviewed journal of labor and working class history in North America.

Cole, a professor of history, was part of the group that wrote a series of articles, “Postindustrial Noir: Assessing ‘The Wire,” that first evolved out of a workshop for labor historians at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2008. During that workshop, several of the attendees, including Cole, realized they had a common love for “The Wire” television show.

The group then created a panel for a 2009 American Studies Association meeting in Washington, DC.

Other roundtable participants include Thomas Jessen Adams from Tulane University, Jennifer Luff from Georgetown and Jennifer Klein from Yale.

All of the essays can be read and downloaded at lawcha.org/wordpress/2013/05/04/postindustrial-noir-assessing-the-wire/ and more information can be found at facebook.com/LABORonTheWire.

WIU history major creates rural school database during internship

A recent story in the Quincy Herald Whig illustrates how Western students get hands-on experience during their studies at WIU.

Joel Koch, a senior history major at Western Illinois University, shows a couple of the photos of old rural schools in Adams County that he's found during his internship at the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

Quincy Herald-Whig photo at left: Joel Koch, a senior history major at Western Illinois University, shows a couple of the photos of old rural schools in Adams County that he’s found during his internship at the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

“There [are] a lot of people who went to these schools, and many of them have died already,” Koch said. “If their children or grandchildren are doing family research and they run across a reference that they went to a certain school but don’t know where it was, they can refer to our list and get that information.”

According to Edward Husar’s, “Historical Society intern compiles database of old rural schools in Adams County” posted in late November, Joel Koch, a senior history major from Quincy (IL), has compiled a database of nearly 200 rural schools that once operated in Adams County during his internship with the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County.

Read more at www.whig.com/story/16083102/historical-society-intern-compiles-database-of-former-rural-schools.

Learn more about WIU’s Department of History at www.wiu.edu/cas/history/.

Authentic Lincoln signature discovered at WIU

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in the United States. And a Western Illinois University staff member recently discovered that a document found on a campus–that appeared to be signed by President Abraham Lincoln–is indeed authentic. The document will now be housed in the archives at Western Illinois University’s Malpass Library, as explained in an article in from McDonough County Voice.

Look for more information soon at wiu.edu/news!

Street sign’s namesake was a Civil Rights leader

Ever noticed that the street signs on Murray Street–right in front of the Union–have a second name, “C.T. Vivian Way”?

Maybe when you’re walking to and from class, the last thing on your mind is why certain streets are named the way they are. But this street sign is one you should definitely take note of from now on.

The man behind the name is Cordy Tindell Vivian, a WIU alumnus who was a close friend and lieutenant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who just happened to be on campus last Friday to speak about his educational experiences as part of the national HistoryMakers’ program.

picture of C.T. Vivian greeting students and staff

WIU alumnus and Civil Rights activist C.T. Vivian, right, greets students and staff at WIU on Sept. 17.

picture of C.T. Vivian speaking at WIU

Vivian, a Macomb native, was a close friend and lieutenant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In his Sept. 17 speech at Western, Vivian, a Macomb native, said today’s minority students are not receiving the level of education, or educational support, they can and should be.

“What we did for civil rights then, we’ve got to do that in education now,” he said. “There’s got to be an education movement that’s just as important as the Civil Rights Movement was.”

Read the full story about Vivian’s visit here.

History you walk(ed) by every day.

Hey, current students and/or Western grads: ever wondered why that residence hall you call home–or that building you went to most often for the classes in your major– is called “Olson” or “Brophy” or “Simpkins”?

Where do campus buildings get their names?

Olson Hall

Olson Hall... and Olson who?

Or, to put it another way:

  • What do buildings on Western’s Macomb campus have to do with the War of 1812?
  • Is it true, or just a legend, that the windows in Malpass Library really spell out the name of a state–and not the state we’re living in?
  • Which Western building was once the site of a speech by Eleanor Roosevelt?

Western student Matt Fischer recently dug up the answers to these questions and more campus history in his recent feature story, “The names behind the masonry,” for the Western Courier, the student-run newspaper.

For his research, Fischer spoke with University Archives experts who filled him in on some of Western’s most interesting architectural tidbits.

Read the full story from the Western Courier. And add your memories about living and learning in campus buildings in the comments below!

History of Hero Street lives on (and has a descendant at WIU)!

Hero Street USA

Hero Street USA

Marc Wilson, author of the new book “Hero Street, U.S.A.: The Story of Little Mexico’s Fallen Soldiers,” spoke on campus Wed., Oct. 7–and brought with him an interesting companion.

Wilson, a former reporter and Associated Press executive now living in the Quad Cities area, researched the dramatic story of the “Little Mexico” neighborhood in Silvis, IL, which contributed 78 soldiers to the U.S. military during World War II and Korea, giving it the highest per-capita casualty rate of any street in the entire country. The neighborhood, established by immigrants from Guanajauto, Mexico, was officially renamed “Hero Street” in 1971.

But Wilson’s companion for the day could also be considered an expert on the topic: Tanilo “Tony” Sandoval, surviving younger brother of two of the eight soldiers from the block who were killed in action. As Wilson detailed his research, Sandoval provided his childhood memories about each of the eight soldiers killed in action.

Wilson, former owner of a newspaper in Montana, became interested in the story after hearing about it from a newspaper publisher in the Quad Cities.

“Many people in the Quad Cities still know nothing, or very little, about Hero Street,” he said.

Chronicling the prejudice, poverty, and other adversity the residents of Little Mexico had to deal with, especially during the Depression, Wilson pointed out that many of the veterans who gave their life for their country were never recognized as United States citizens, even being blackballed from the local VFW.

Their first-generation parents, unable to speak English, weren’t eligible to receive federal aid during the Depression due to their status as “aliens.” In fact, the street later recognized with the official “Hero Street” name was one of the last in the city to be paved, he said.

“These were ‘invisible’ people in many ways,” Wilson said.

At the end of the presentation, Sandoval shared with the audience the fact that, despite the poverty and prejudice he and his brothers experienced growing up, many from the younger generations of the Hero Street neighborhood, and in his family, have gone on to successful professional positions after earning an education.

Johnathon Sandoval, WIU sophomore

Johnathon Sandoval, WIU sophomore

And what could have been a better note to end on than this?:

Before the author and his guest speaker greeted audience members, Wilson explained they’d need to leave a bit early.

“We’re going to go try to catch the rest of the soccer game,” Wilson said. Sandoval’s grandson, Johnathan Sandoval, is a sophomore and Leatherneck soccer player at WIU.

Read more about the book and the story behind Hero Street in the University Relations news release and on the University Archives blog.