Part of the duties of a library is to preserve history. This usually involves taking in documents, objects and random relics from the local community. It is not enough to just hold on to these things, to let them sit in a drawer somewhere until they crumble to dust. If something is worth preserving, it’s worth sharing. A while ago, we set up an Internet Archive page to help the Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission (BHPC) digitize some of their collection, but it has continued to grow thanks to some lucky finds and donations from the community. Here are some highlights from the project.
These records come from the days of one-room schoolhouses. Supposedly, this collection of school ledgers was found in a barn and mostly survived over 100 years of exposure to the elements. While working on these, they left my desk covered in dust for months, but the books happened to be in surprisingly good conduction. This particular school was located on the corner of Royce Road and Washington Street, around where the DuPage River Sports Complex sits today in Naperville, IL. This somehow became the most popular item in the collection, currently with nearly 4,000 views.
For more on the history of these schools, I highly recommend checking out From One-Room Schools to District 365U Dupage Township Will County, Illinois, from our collection. Huge thanks to all the research and interviews conducted by Dorothy Hassert. Her book was instrumental in linking and locating what schools each register came from. I also happened to find a copy of the Final Report Of The Will County School Survey Committee (1948), detailing the second redistricting before the final one in 1972 that formed the current Valley View School District 365U.
“Life can be hard sometimes, but you still have to find the humor in it” — John J Brogan
Have you ever wondered what people would say about you after you’re dead? With the continued decline of local papers, good obituaries are becoming a lost art. This is a shame as I do consider it an art form. It is very hard to sum up a person’s life in a paragraph or two. A well-written obituary can tell you a lot about a person, not just the raw statistics, but what they loved, what was important to them, and the people they impacted. It’s important to remember that someone took the time to write about this person who passed on and was not forgotten. If you want a rule of thumb for a life well lived, aim for a long obituary. We were given four of these obituary scrapbooks painstakingly compiled by Patricia Treadway of the BHPC. Dwell on your fleeting mortality, and check out some entries:
Sitting at Paxson Dr, Bolingbrook, IL 60440, is a historic burial ground that entombs many influential figures of the area (mostly the eponymous Boardman family) known as Boardman Cemetery. The earliest grave is dated to 1832, and it was in disrepair until 1972 when efforts went underway to restore it. This scrapbook contains a history of the cemetery, newspaper articles, and a lot of materials from various fundraisers for restoration from the BHPC and sister organizations. There are also several articles on the curious incident where a child’s gravestone somehow wound up in Florida but was eventually returned.
A recent addition to the page, this book details the service and dirty limericks of the 86th Aero Squadron from the men themselves. This pursuit squadron of around 150 men—the cool guys who get into dog fights—served with distinction during World War I between 1917 to 1919. While they only saw about a year of deployment and combat, it was an experience the men would never forget. Thanks to the efforts of the author, several contributors, and two artists, we have this wonderful book. While it does include a history, the bulk of the book is made of stories from the men, about crashes, close calls, fallen comrades, their last nights in England, seeing combat in France, and the dumb adventures you can expect from a bunch of young men going overseas for the first time.
All of our content can be found at archive.org/details/fountaindalepubliclibrary. Feel free to leave a comment on our items. We would love to hear from you!