The co-founder of the Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum in Arcola says it was a sad decision but a necessary one - the museum will close this summer and most exhibits moved to a museum in New York.
Joni Gruelle Wannamaker is the granddaughter of Johnny Gruelle, who was raised in Arcola and created the scruffy red-haired dolls in 1915. Wannamaker says she and her husband Tom left their jobs in Atlanta ten years ago to build the museum, but she says advancing age, declining attendance - and a drop in overall tourism in the Douglas County area -- forced the decision to close.
"We have done a lot of advertising over the years, advertising for Arcola and the surrounding area," Wannamaker said. "But perhaps there was a change at the Chamber of Commerce...I just don't know."
Wannamaker says she and Tom were impressed with the museum where the Raggedy Ann and Andy exhibits will be headed, the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester New York - the dolls are already in that museum's National Toy Hall of Fame. But Wannamaker says she and her husband are staying in Arcola.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen began as an experiment and ended by proving the ability of many African-American servicemen. The military's first black pilots withstood animosity to fight America's enemies overseas while continuing to fight racism on the home front. The next in our series looks at the paths taken by two of the first members of the Army Air Corps' 99th Pursuit Squadron. Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul was the first training ground for these officers. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke with the widows of two men, Bill Thompson and Ellsworth Dansby, who helped pave the way for many others.
A six foot long cake loaded with historical pictures and live music highlighted Urbana's 175th birthday celebration at Lincoln Square Village. History was the theme -- and not just in edible form. Historians tell us that Urbana's founding fathers had a name before they even found a perfect location for the city. The Zoo Theatre Improv Group (R to L: Sean Whitsitt, Aubrey Wachtel and Brian Hagy) has put its spin on the unusual founding of Urbana, and how it might have been when Abraham Lincoln came to Urbana for the very first time.
The upcoming rose Bowl between Illinois and USC will carry on a tradition that's more than six decades old. In 1947, Illinois played in the first Rose Bowl to pit the champion of what was then called the Big Nine against the Pacific Coast Conference champion (now called the Pac 10). Radio was still the nation's dominant broadcast medium, and it covered not only the game itself but the buildup and the aftermath. Recordings of those broadcasts have been stored in the University of Illinois Archives ever since. Matt Ehrlich takes us back 61 years to when the Fighting Illini headed west looking for respect.
63 years ago this week, Germany was mounting its last major offensive in World War Two. Months later, the Nazis would fall and the guns of war would finally go silent in Europe. In the following decades, we heard about bits and pieces of the conflagration, hundreds of thousands of individual stories from those on the front lines. Now, one by one, those voices are also falling silent. AM 580's Tom Rogers let five area residents - four veterans (including Harold Cox, above-right) and a civilian -- tell their stories of the war's bloodiest battle.
Curt Campbell (left, holding a copy of his memoirs) is a retired farmer -- and an American serviceman who experienced prison life behind enemy lines. AM 580's Tom Rogers talked with him.
Two central Illinois men had to choose between their country's call and their church's teachings. These men (Merlin Taber, far left, and Delbert Augsburger, near left) were members of historic peace denominations that preach against military service. As AM 580's Jim Meadows reports, these two men made two different decisions.
A day old newspaper may be good for lining a birdcage, but a 90-year old newspaper can be a doorway into history. Now, the University of Illinois is putting the earliest years of the old Urbana Daily Courier online, providing a glimpse at the people and events of another era. AM 580's Jeff Bossert reports.
Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is the subject of a three-day forum at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. At age 88, the author of "The Gulag Archipelago" rarely leaves his home near Moscow. But his wife and two of his sons are taking part in the forum. AM 580's Jim Meadows talked with Natalya Solzhenitsyn about her husband's work since returning to Russia.
World War II Oral Histories
World War II was a transforming event in American history. But the number of people who have direct memories of the war is shrinking by the day. In September, WILL-TV will air the Ken Burns documentary "The War." In conjunction with the program, WILL is helping with an effort to record as many oral histories as possible from those who lived through that era, either on the battle lines or on the home front. AM 580's Tom Rogers introduces us to people who have made it their mission to get memories on tape.