The Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection recently received additional Illinois and Michigan Canal historical materials from members of the Milne family, longtime residents of Lockport. The donation of papers, book collection, pictures, and various items were presented to Lewis University in Romeoville for protection, preservation, and extended accessibility by Flora Louise Milne, executrix of the James Walter Milne and Gladys Donkle Milne estate in 2005.
“This is a significant donation from one of the leading families in the area. People can learn about 19th century farming, business, and other topics related to this material. The Adelmann Regional History Collection is fortunate to have this material. This donation would not be possible without Flora Milne and the hard work of Mary Ann Atkins at the Library,” commented Dr. Dennis H. Cremin, director of the Lewis University History Center: Urban, Cultural and Catholic History of the Upper Midwest.
The Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection is managed by the history center and it is housed in the Lewis University Library. The collection contains more than 10,000 items; including books, manuscripts, photographs, and maps relating to the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the areas, towns, and activities it influenced in Illinois. The collection also features material about other American canals in the 19th and 20th centuries. This photograph collection is the largest existing pictorial record of the history of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. More information about the collection is available at www.lewisu.edu/historycenter.
“The donation expands our knowledge of the history of Lockport and family life in that time period,” added Mary Ann Atkins, Library Systems coordinator/Digital Collections librarian at Lewis University. The family’s book collection of approximately 200 books reflects the minds of the times and offers illumination from 1836-1910.
The estate also donated $5,000 in 2008 toward the cataloging, digitization, preservation and protection of the materials. Atkins anticipated that researchers and students will likely utilize the actual donations most often. However, she said “having the collection digitized opens this information up to the world.” The book collection is available through a search of the library’s online catalog with the term “Milne Collection.” Work on digitizing the documents and making them available online is underway. The donated materials were from the residence most commonly known as the Robert Hawley Milne House or the old stone house. It is presently owned by the Adelmann family, who have registered it in the Historic Buildings Register and restored it to its original 1836 condition as much as possible.
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