Stephenson County, Illinois — The Stephenson County Historical Society and the Freeport Public Library are proud to announce that they have jointly received a grant of $3,097 to support digitizing the collections of slides housed in the Frances Woodhouse Local History Room. The grant was awarded by the Community Arts & Humanities Fund of The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ Community Grants Program.
The Frances Woodhouse Local History Room is located on the first floor of the Freeport Public Library. Named after a longtime library board member, it exists to provide materials and support for those interested in the history of Freeport and Stephenson County, as well as for those researching family history.
The collection has over 4,500 volumes of books, plus materials on microfilm. These resources provide in-depth information about northwestern Illinois and other geographic areas where its early residents previously lived. As a consequence, there are numerous Pennsylvania and New York genealogical sources, as well as information on some counties in Wisconsin and Iowa.
This project identifies approximately 3000 slides that have important historical content and are currently stored in unfavorable conditions. The slides include images that document a century of Freeport history and its changing landscape from the late 1800’s through 1980. Along with digitization, a searchable finding aid will also be created. Once digitized, the slides will be stored in archival boxes and placed with the SCHS photo collections. Both the SCHS and the Freeport Public Library will retain copies of the digital files for research purposes.
“Photographs give a face to history and help us learn from the past,” says Historical Society Executive Director Sharon Welton. “At the Historical Society resource library, people are continually looking for images of ancestors and the places where they lived and worked. It is always exciting when a photograph is found that unlocks a small part of a historical mystery.”
The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) has been a regional leader in philanthropy since 1953. CFNIL serves as a catalyst for giving in order to attract, grow, and preserve an endowment for the needs of Northern Illinois. Since its founding, CFNIL has granted more than $60 million for charitable purposes.