Presentation on the Vollintine Estate

Please Join Us

Tuesday, February 20 at 2:00 pm in the UIS Student Union – 226B

Brookens Library is hosting a special program that will feature University Archivist Tom Wood, who will highlight a recent collection received by the Archives that contains photos from the Vollintine Mansion in Taylorville. Known as “Grayton”, the 20-acre estate was built in 1911 by the heirs of Horatio Vandeveer, and was famous for its architecture and luxurious appointments.

Jackie Jackson Exhibit in the Library

Jackie Jackson with some of her life’s work boxed to go to the UIS archive. Photo credit: Illinois Times

UIS Professor Emerita of English and Women’s Studies, Jackie Jackson, was featured in a cover story in the November 2, 2017 issue of Illinois Times. To celebrate this honor, UIS Archives/Special Collections has created an exhibit about Jackson on Level 2 of Brookens Library.

Jacqueline Dougan Jackson was born near Beloit, Wisconsin and was raised on her family’s dairy farm.  She graduated from the University of Beloit in 1950, and received an M.A. in Latin from the University of Michigan in 1951. After teaching writing at Kent State University, in 1970 she was hired as a charter faculty member at a new university in Springfield, Illinois, named Sangamon State University (now UIS). She taught at UIS until her retirement in 2000, but, at age 89,  she still teaches writing in her home.

The exhibit includes copies of Jackson’s published books dating back to 1953.  Jackie published several children’s book, but also the Stories from the Round Barn series,  which includes her delightful and thoughtful reminiscences of her early years growing up on a dairy farm, and her remarkable family. The final volume of the Stories from the Round Barn series has just been published, and is the occasion for the Illinois Times feature article.

The exhibit also contains material from the Reading and Writing and Radio Jamboree, organized and directed by Jackie Jackson. Every spring from 1975 to 1993, hundreds of central Illinois schoolchildren converged on the SSU campus for the Jamboree, a festive occasion for students, second grade to high school, to come together and share and present essays on a variety of subjects, both serious and lighthearted. Selected essays would be read and broadcast on the campus radio station.

Award Recognition: Employees with 30 Years of Service

This morning the University recognized employees who have worked for UIS for 10 or more years for their service. The Library is proud to have two employees celebrated this year: Joanne, Senior Library Specialist (Serials), and Tom, University Archivist, have both worked at Brookens Library for 30 years. Today we honor and thank them for their commitment to the UIS (or SSU) ideals and in their service to our campus community. Here are brief tributes read at the ceremony this morning:


On Joanne’s first day, December 1st, 1986, she recalls that campus consisted of the Brookens Building, the PAC, as well as a few temporary buildings that made up Sangamon State University.  She began at the Brookens Library in the Technical Services Department and with a few job shifts along the way, it is still where she currently works. When she started, there was a card catalog for searching and the Brookens library collection consisted of mostly print journals and books with a small collection of a few other media types.

Today, she now works at the University of Illinois Springfield, and there has been a few more buildings added to the campus. The card catalog in the Brookens library is just a memory. The print journals have drastically been replaced with their online versions, as well as electronic books and streaming video have become more prevalent as well. Joanne has been a vital part of the Technical Services team throughout the years. She has seen a lot of changes here at the Brookens library and when asked about her time here she will say, “I love libraries, and I’ve met some really terrific people along the way.” Thank you Joanne, for your many years of dedicated service.


“There’s a really great variety of material to work with here, from 200 year old records to new digital records, and everything in between.” Thomas J. Woods, 2017

Tom was born and spent his formative years in Mount Carmel, Illinois, about 3 ½ hours SE of Springfield. He earned two Masters degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; one in History, the other in Library and Information Science. In his thirty years here on campus, he has been at the forefront of collecting the history of the institution as it has progressed. When Tom started work in 1986 at what was then Sangamon State University, founding president Dr. Robert Spencer was still teaching here, as were many of the charter faculty who had been hired in the early 1970s. He has also documented the physical changes on campus; he remembers when the corn fields started just south of where the colonnade is now.  The UIS Archives holds administration files that have long term value, but it also preserves photographs, student newspapers, audio files, and video of commencements, special events, and visiting speakers. The Archives has a collection of over 5000 student Master projects and theses. Tom handles historical documents such as records of birth, death, and marriage certificates, and Lincoln-era court cases. He has overseen major digitization projects, including a multi-year project preserving and digitizing more than 20 years of oral history interviews with people from all walks of life, such as former prisoners of war, farmers, coal miners, Illinois politicians, and others.  

He has adapted to changing collection and archival standards, as well as innovations in information technology. Focusing not just on collecting and preserving, Tom also works with researchers, students, families seeking genealogy assistance, and more. In the Archives alongside Tom, you’ll also find an archival library assistant, a graduate assistant, and two Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) interns. Working with, and training students and interns has been very rewarding and over 30 years, Tom has seen a rotating cast of talented people. While he is sad to see them go, he does enjoy seeing them succeed in professional jobs in archives, libraries, museums, and teaching positions.

When not working in the archives, it’s no surprise that Tom would enjoy the opposite – the great outdoors – and exploring natural and historical sites around central Illinois and beyond. He also enjoys reading and listening to music, and playing in trivia tournaments. If you want to know more about any of the previously mentioned items, stop by the Archives, located on the lower level of Brookens Library, and chat with Tom, or visit the archives website. Congratulations to Tom on his 30 years on our campus and for his dedication to collecting, preserving and sharing the history of our university.


New Tim Rice Musical Show Draws on Material in Archives/Special Collections

From here to eternity photoOn October 23, a new stage musical opened in the Shaftsbury Theatre in London’s West End. The musical, From Here to Eternity, was based on the bestselling and award-winning 1951 novel by Illinois author James Jones. The lyricist for the musical is Tim Rice, famous for blockbuster shows like The Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita.

The production drew upon photographs from the Handy Colony Collection in the Archives/Special Collections department of Brookens Library, not only for use in publicity material, but to help create authentic costumes for the solders featured in the show.

The book of the musical was based on a new unexpurgated edition of James Jones’s From Here to Eternity, created by George Hendrick, a Professor Emeritus of English at UIUC. This new edition (published in 2011 as an e-book by Open Roads Media and as a trade paperback and e-book by Random House) also drew extensively on material contained in the UIS Archives.

From Here To Eternity ArticleThe Handy Colony Collection was acquired by the University in 1984 and was processed by UIS Archivist Thomas J Wood and his staff in the following years. The large collection (filling 77 archives boxes of various sizes) was in considerably disarray when received and took over four years to arrange and process.

James Jones, the Handy Colony Collection and the musical From Here to Eternity are also featured in the latest issue (Fall 2013) of UIS Alumni Magazine.

Read the UIS Alumni Magizine article about “How a bedroom-sized collection of papers and artifacts of acclaimed novelist James Jones made their way to UIS”

Visit the From Here to Eternity The Musical Website

Preservation Week 2012

April 22-28 is National Preservation Week! Celebrate by getting to know more about preservation and the University of Illinois Springfield’s Archives & IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository). Archives is housed in the lower level of Brookens Library. They are available to serve the public between 9am & 5pm Monday – Friday. Visit the Archives website to learn more:

In 2004 Heritage Preservation carried out the first national survey, the Heritage Health Index, to document collections preservation needs in libraries, museums, and archives ( That survey showed that roughly 1.3 billion items need treatment to reduce the risk and rate of damage. The condition of 30 percent of items across every type of collection is unknown. No one knows of preservation needs in the collections of individuals, families, and community organizations, which were not surveyed. Even when condition is known, our cultural and information heritage, especially in digital collections, continues to be at risk.

Brookens Library & the University of Illinois Springfield is fortunate to have an Archival department on campus dedicated to preserving collections, treasures, history, and more. Visit the Archives & IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository) website:

“Audio-Video Barn” Preserves Oral History

An oral history of Illinois agriculture is the featured subject of a new website called the Audio-Video Barn.   This first major collaboration between the Illinois State Museum and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum features 300 hours of interviews with more than 130 people who have been active in Illinois agriculture over the past 129 years.

Another 61 audio-only interviews from the University of Illinois Springfield — a pioneer in the field of oral history… also are part of the project.

Click on the State Journal-Register website for the whole article, including excerpts from interviews.

National Library Worker’s Day

Library Group photoTuesday, April 14 is National Library Worker’s Day, a day to thank the people who work in libraries and to celebrate their accomplishments.  In the Brookens Library, in addition to the faculty, staff and students that you see at the Information and Circulation desks there are people working “behind the scenes” to acquire and describe all the materials that the library receives, from reference books to e-books, and to keep all of our electronic systems up and running.   There are the people in Archives and Special Collections, making manuscripts, audio files, county records, photographs and more available to visitors who want to make use of these primary sources.  Plus, in the Brookens Library we are fortunate to have the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS, formerly OTEL) as part of the library.  We are all here to help you succeed!  Let us know how we’re doing and what we can do differently and better.

New Item in Special Collections

Book recently donated to UIS Archives/Special Collections
Book recently donated to UIS Archives.

Brookens Library’s Special Collections recently received a gift of a new book, Lincoln in Illinois: Photographs and Comments on Lincoln Statues in Illinois Commemorating the Bicentennial of the Birth of Abraham Lincoln, February 12, 2009.

The book was presented by its compiler and editor, Richard E. Hart of Springfield. Hart is president of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the publisher of the book.

The book includes black and white photographs of nearly 100 statues, busts and plaques found in squares, parks, museums, and public buildings around the state of Illinois. The images were taken by Chicago photographer Ron Schramm.

Photographs included in the book are currently on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

The photos are accompanied with descriptions, some factual and some poetic, by present writers, public figures, and Lincoln scholars. Among the commentators is President Barack Obama.

The book includes biographical sketches of the sculptors who created the Lincoln statues portrayed in the book, and also biographies of the commentators.

Race Riot resources

In the 1970s, the Sangamon State University Oral History Office interviewed about 30 individuals who were eyewitnesses to the Springfield Race Riot of 1908, one of the most seminal moments in Central Illinois history.  These oral histories are preserved in Brookens Library’s Archives/Special Collections department. A guide to the race riot memoirs is available on the UIS Archives website. The guide includes links to the full text of the memoirs and to a selection of the original audio interviews contained in the “Revealing Voices” podcast series at UIS’s iTunes U.

During the week of 6-8 August, WUIS aired a series of four programs on the 1908 Springfield Race Riot. These include excerpts from oral histoies in the Archives/Special Collections and feature an interview with Cullom Davis, UIS Professor Emeritus of History and the director of the oral history project in the 1970s.

There is also a set of historic photographs of the aftermath of the race riot from the Booth-Gruenendike Family Collection available online. For more information about any of these features, please email Tom Wood, UIS archivist, or phone him at 217-206-6520.

Dean’s Post

Dean Jane TreadwellBrookens’ Handy Writers Colony Collection featured in Illinois Times

In these days of instant access to information online, we sometimes forget that there are whole worlds of information that have never been digitized. Despite the Google library project, most books are available only in libraries and bookstores. And then there are the primary sources—manuscripts, letters, photographs—that a person will only be able to see by going to a library’s special collections department. Such a collection of primary sources provides the basis for the cover story in the February 21 issue of the Illinois Times. The story begins: “The contents of 77 boxes shelved in the special collections department of the Brookens Library at the University of Illinois at Springfield tell a love story, a love story that gave rise to one of the most curious chapters in modern American literature.”

The Handy Writers Colony collection in Special Collections at UIS has been mined by scholars and documentary film makers seeking to learn more about the colony and its most famous resident, James Jones. A documentary about the Handy Colony is to be aired on PBS sometime this year. In the early 1950’s, Jones, the author of From Here to Eternity and other novels, lived and wrote at the colony established by Lowney Handy in Marshall, Illinois. Brookens Library archivist Tom Wood spent several years organizing the 2,000 plus items in the Handy Colony collection to make them more accessible to users. You can learn more about the collection at

The Handy Colony Collection is one of the hidden treasures of the Brookens Library. It is also a reminder that a library is about more than information—go to almost any university library’s special collections and you will find these stories of real people, unfolding on yellowed pieces of paper and fading photographs.