They lived in Founders Grove

In 2018 I was a retired librarian and volunteer at the McLean County Museum of History when I was asked if I would be willing to take on a paid position at the Museum with a new project. I was thrilled to be asked and accepted the position immediately.

The project was to digitize and preserve the negatives that the Museum had received from the Pantagraph nearly eight years before. A grant from the State Library made the project possible -- it would pay for the images to be digitized and a salary for a person (me) to add metadata to the images to make them findable by the public. This was a thrilling project -- the collection included an estimated million negatives and would provide us with a visual history of our county -- as well as many surrounding counties. I was accepting the role of interpreting each image and finding, if possible, the story behind it. 

The other part of the grant gave us a space on the Illinois Digital Archive to display the images and access to a data management platform for the images and metadata. Although the initial grant has been used up and completed, we continue to have access to the data management platform and the Illinois Digital Archive to add more images under a federal grant from the IMLS, thanks to the State of Illinois Library. 

The collection, due its size, has been divided into time periods and now covers the period from 1932 to 1949. It is a visual record of two fascinating periods of history -- the Great Depression and World War II. 

Founders Grove was a neighborhood that had existed for many decades already, but was still a new "suburb" of Bloomington where new houses were being built  and where some of the most influential people of the city lived. We will not find the story of the disadvantaged people of Bloomington here -- except at the Girls' Industrial Home (Lucy Orme Morgan Home). But we do see  who lived here, what they did and what life looked like. Perhaps you will see someone who lived in your house, or even inside your own house 80 or 90 years ago.