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updated: 1/13/2012 3:18 PM

Wheaton's Cantigny Park to display rarely seen items

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  • The Colonel Robert R. McCormick Research Center has original Abraham Lincoln letters on display in the reading room. The letters were written to Robert R. McCormick's grandfather, Joseph Medill, who ran the Chicago Tribune in the 1850s and was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln.

       The Colonel Robert R. McCormick Research Center has original Abraham Lincoln letters on display in the reading room. The letters were written to Robert R. McCormick's grandfather, Joseph Medill, who ran the Chicago Tribune in the 1850s and was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • A U.S. World War II grenade, that has been rendered inert, is housed in a vault along with other items such as artwork and other weapons at the 1st Division Museums collections area. The collections are not open to the public.

       A U.S. World War II grenade, that has been rendered inert, is housed in a vault along with other items such as artwork and other weapons at the 1st Division Museums collections area. The collections are not open to the public.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Eric Gillespie, director of the research center, shows off some of the boxes containing the McCormick papers that are under lock and key in the Colonel Robert R. McCormick Research Center at the 1st Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. The McCormick papers consist of 599 boxes full of correspondence and documents.

       Eric Gillespie, director of the research center, shows off some of the boxes containing the McCormick papers that are under lock and key in the Colonel Robert R. McCormick Research Center at the 1st Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. The McCormick papers consist of 599 boxes full of correspondence and documents.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • A German World War II grenade, that has been rendered inert, is housed in a vault along with other items, such as artwork and other weapons, at the 1st Division Museums collections area. The collections are is not open to the public.

       A German World War II grenade, that has been rendered inert, is housed in a vault along with other items, such as artwork and other weapons, at the 1st Division Museums collections area. The collections are is not open to the public.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • The 1st Division Museum has items such as these 1st Division World War I service coats.

       The 1st Division Museum has items such as these 1st Division World War I service coats.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Col. Robert R. McCormick Research Center, in the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, is home to the complete history of the U.S. Army's 1st Division and is the repository of McCormick's papers.

McCormick served in the 1st Division during World War I and operated the Chicago Tribune company from 1914 to 1955.

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The research center features a library, military archive, reading room and the McCormick Papers. The center receives about 2,000 questions a year about military history from authors, historians and active Army personnel.

The center aims to "collect, preserve and make available for research the recorded history of the 1st Division and preserve the legacy of Col. Robert R. McCormick," says Eric Gillespie, research center director.

The McCormick archive alone consists of 599 boxes of correspondence, while the military archive boasts another 10,000 boxes of photos, letters and official documents from World War I through Vietnam.

The center also houses a collection of 1st Division and other military items, including uniforms and weapons used in various conflicts around the world by the U.S. military and their enemies.

The museum has an interpretive display that takes visitors from the beginnings of the 1st Division during World War I in the village of Cantigny, France, through the landings on D-Day during World War II to Vietnam and also Desert Storm in the 1990s.

The current museum was completed in the early 1990s, so it does not include a permanent display of the 1st Division's contributions during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The museum and research center will play host to their first open house Saturday, Feb. 18, when items rarely seen by the public will be on view.

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