While I spoke at two regional historical organizations last week, I again witnessed the excitement and interest in local history.
I spoke on my new book, Grant Park: The Evolution of Chicago’s Front Yard, at the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s annual meeting.
As a board member and historian, I was thrilled to see 60 volunteers, staff, board members, and community members at the meeting. Being an annual meeting, there were reports on the status of the museum, and all of the indicators are good.
On the following Saturday, August 17, I gave a presentation at the LaSalle County Genealogy Guild, at the Guild Library, 115 W. Glover St., Ottawa. On this occasion I spoke on the topic of the Civilian Conservation Corps along the I&M Canal. I spoke following a brief meeting, and I was pleased to learn that the guild was doing well in many ways, including finances. In fact, their building was alive with people sharing information, doing research, and making plans.
On that gorgeous Summer Day, I spoke to over 20 members. I was pleased to meet two men who had served in the Civilian Conservation Corps. There was also at least two veterans of World War II, I left impressed.
Lessons learned? It was something I knew, but it was good to have it confirmed. Local history is alive and well. Although the organizations’ coffers were not overflowing, they were paying their bills, meeting their mission, and keeping the lights on for people interested in history. Even if you don’t have time to attend regularly, I encourage you to be involved in your local historical organizations.