DuPage history museum celebrates newspapers' influence

DuPage history museum celebrates newspapers' influence

  • The Wheaton Flag brought readers news of their hometown from 1857 through 1860. The DuPage County Historical Museum is displaying the paper's front page from Oct. 21, 1858.

    The Wheaton Flag brought readers news of their hometown from 1857 through 1860. The DuPage County Historical Museum is displaying the paper's front page from Oct. 21, 1858. Courtesy of DuPage County Historical Museum

  • A new exhibit celebrating the importance of newspapers will open Saturday at the DuPage County Historical Museum in downtown Wheaton.

    A new exhibit celebrating the importance of newspapers will open Saturday at the DuPage County Historical Museum in downtown Wheaton. Courtesy of Wheaton Park District

  • The DuPage County Historical Museum will display a variety of newspaper artifacts in its "Read All About It! Newspapers and Journalism in DuPage History" exhibit.

    The DuPage County Historical Museum will display a variety of newspaper artifacts in its "Read All About It! Newspapers and Journalism in DuPage History" exhibit. Courtesy of DuPage County Historical Museum

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted4/24/2019 12:38 PM

Newsprint yellows and crinkles and becomes brittle and fragile over time.

That's one of the things visitors to the DuPage County Historical Museum will see when they view the new exhibit opening Saturday, April 27, at the Wheaton venue.

 

They'll also see how this storied communication mode has lasting power through chronicling history and making an impact on the lives of DuPage residents.

"Read All About It! Newspapers and Journalism in DuPage History," an exhibit that will continue through Jan. 26, 2020, takes a long view of local journalism, museum curator Zachary Bishop said.

"The exhibit shows the various roles newspapers have played in the lives of DuPage County residents from the 1830s to the present day," he said.

From 1857 through 1860, a publication called The Wheaton Flag brought readers news of their hometown. On display will be the paper's front page from Oct. 21, 1858.

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There's also a 1919 movie review from Glen Ellyn resident Audrie Alspaugh Chase, a film critic who wrote under the pseudonym Kitty Kelly. And there will be artifacts from Col. Robert R. McCormick, owner and publisher of the Chicago Tribune from the 1920s through the middle of the 20th century.

The Chicago newspaper's account of the Titanic's disastrous maiden voyage will be available for perusal.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors will encounter examples of how newspapers affect social life and government policy.

"They'll see how they've impacted political movements and elections," Bishop said. "One of the best examples is how newspapers played a role in the abolition of slavery movement."

Reports of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination will be on view, he said, from a national newspaper, the New York Herald.

Bishop said the exhibit will include displays of clippings from an anti-slavery newspaper called The Western Citizen, a publication widely circulated among anti-slavery groups that helped people escape enslavement through the "underground railroad" to freedom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A popular local publication, The Wheaton Illinoisan, will be represented. Bishop said the paper was published in the late 19th century through the early 20th century.

Bishop said newspaper stories about the Spanish-American War in 1898 reveal how newspapers influenced public sentiment prevalent at the time.

"Newspapers played a big part in swaying public opinion to going to war against Spain," he said.

The exhibit also will include newspaper delivery bags, printing blocks and photographs of newspaper offices and printing operations.

The papers on exhibit, stored in archival boxes when not on public view, will be displayed under plexiglass to ensure their preservation.

"Newspapers kind of disintegrate very quickly. They were printed on paper that's not meant to last," he said. "We do the best we can to keep them in shape."

Bishop said the museum, which currently features four galleries, is free and open to the public. Donations are suggested and encouraged.

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