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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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A Memoir Writing Program, Focused on Illinois Locales, 1946-1969

Elaine Evans
/ Categories: General News

A Memoir Writing Program, Focused on Illinois Locales, 1946-1969

Illinois State Historical Society

In the spring of 2023, the Illinois State Historical Society will launch a statewide project to encourage local historical societies to promote the writing of short memoirs—roughly one to three typed pages—by older residents which reflect their Illinois experience in the post-World War II era (the later 1940s, the 1950s, and the 1960s). A selection of those will then be published, either in a collection devoted to memoirs of that area within the state (which would be locally funded and sold) or in a series for a local newspaper or a society newsletter. The submitted typescripts will all be donated to, and preserved in, a regional library archives, so that future historians and genealogical researchers can benefit from those writings.

This memoir writing and publication project is being developed for a variety of reasons:

  1. To increase general awareness of, and interest in, local history in areas throughout the state.
  2. To draw public attention to the varied experience of Illinois residents in a remarkable era of cultural change—involving women’s roles, the Black experience, the Viet Nam War, TV, etc.
  3. To foster appreciation for older residents, who have experienced so much significant cultural change—and can often benefit psychologically from the experience of memoir writing.
  4. To foster a meaningful belonging among residents of all ages, who will read the memoirs.
  5. To promote the importance of membership in historical organizations throughout the state.

This project is titled “The Land and the People Hold Memories,” which is a line by Carl Sandburg, from a poem that promotes meaningful belonging through remembered experience. The Illinois State Historical Society advisor for this statewide effort is the organization’s vice president, John Hallwas and will be promoted through Illinois Heritage magazine.

Those Illinois locales that do initiate an effort to foster the writing of short memoirs by older residents, for creating a resource of personal experience about the post-war 1940s through the 1960s (when Baby Boomers were young) and for publishing selected submissions in a collection or a periodical, should contact William Furry at the Illinois State Historical Society office, so that participation in this statewide program titled “The Land and the People Hold Memories” can be accurately recorded. Email executivedirector@illinoishistory.org, or phone 217-525-2518. And those who would like advice or promotional assistance from the supervisor of this ISHS effort are invited to contact writer and speaker John Hallwas:  je-hallwas@wiu.edu.

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