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Regional History Center Exhibits: Home

Exhibits featuring items from the Regional History Center and NIU Archives.

RHC Exhibits

The Regional History Center of Northern Illinois University has a goal to acquire, preserve, and make available to the public the most significant historical records of the northern Illinois region.  It regularly features exhibits to display its archival collections; many of these exhibits are available for online viewing from the links below.

Sometimes We Must Interfere: Activism in Northern Illinois

The Regional History Center at Northern Illinois University presents ‘Sometimes We Must Interfere: Activism in Northern Illinois.’ The exhibit focuses on how and why people in Northern Illinois have promoted change. It showcases collection materials that promote discussions and actions of change such as strikes, labor issues, boycotts, demonstrations, and voting behaviors.


The exhibit focuses on education, practice, and public and mental health in the Northern Illinois region. The materials come from the Regional History Center's archive collections with dates ranging from 1845 to the present.

The exhibit explores cooking has shaped identity in the northern Illinois region from the 1880’s to 1985. Cookbooks and recipes often reveal more than just a list of ingredients. Ethnic recipes help preserve a cultural heritage and demonstrate different cultures that exist in an area. Passing along a favorite family recipe helps keep the memory of family members alive. The exhibit explores how cooking has created a sense of identity in family life, in organizations around the region, and at Northern Illinois University.

October is Illinois Archives Month! To participate in this celebration, the Regional History Center at Northern Illinois University is pleased to announce we will be showcasing suffrage related material throughout the month of October. On June 26, 1913, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi where women won the right to vote in local and presidential elections. To commemorate this historic event, the Illinois State Archives has chosen “Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage” as the theme for Archives Month 2013. By showcasing suffrage material from the university archives and regional collections, the Regional History Center hopes to demonstrate how women’s voting rights have impacted Northern Illinois University and the surrounding region. Be sure to check our Facebook and Flickr pages throughout the month of October for photos, documents, and even some suffrage trivia questions. We start posting highlights from our collection October 1st!

The exhibit chronologically displays advertisements from regional businesses, showing the impact of New York’s Madison Avenue ad scene on local culture. The materials come from the Regional History Center’s archive collections, dating from the 1890s through the onset of the digital age.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Regional History Center created an exhibit which utilizes the photo-sharing site Flickr to feature items from the archives: letters, political cartoons, and pictures from the Civil War era. Items originate across the country, but their roots trace back to the northern Illinois region. This demonstrates that although this Union land was not used as a battle ground, the War's impact upon northern Illinois's residents was far-reaching. Its farmers, doctors, and tradesmen were sent to the distant corners of the country while wives ran every aspect of the home in the absence of their men.


Somethin' to Write Home About: Letters from the Regional History Center Collections

Somethin’ to Write Home About” examines the impact of both mundane daily activities and extraordinary historical events on  the residents of the northern Illinois region through their written words.  Letters date as far back as the 1850s with topics including the military, college life, Northern Illinois University, and family life.

February 14, 2008 was a tragic day for the community of Northern Illinois University. This site was created by the staff of the University Archives and Regional History Center as a memorial for all affected by that day's campus shooting. It is devoted to the healing and support of each individual as they browse and comment upon the items and contribute their own unique memories.