The Galesburg Public Library’s Archive, located near the adult services area, contains a research collection of rare books, original manuscripts, biographical information, local and Illinois county histories, city directories, school yearbooks, newspapers, journals, maps, county plat books, photographs, artwork and other materials reflecting the heritage and history of Galesburg and the surrounding area. The library’s archive also houses the genealogy records and materials of the Knox County Genealogical Society which are available for use by the public. Genealogy material is located on open shelving near the microfilm readers; other material is kept in the locked and temperature-controlled Illinois Room.
Digital Image Archive
The library is a participating member of the Upper Mississippi Digital Image Archive project. The digital image archive is a growing searchable database of thousands of digital images gathered from historical collections in the Illinois-Iowa Mississippi River Region. The historical images cover the period from 1860 through the 1950s.
As a participating member, the library has digitized, cataloged and contributed over 600 photographs from its archive. More photographs are added monthly. The photographs document Galesburg buildings, interior and exterior shots, important events such as the visit of Harry S. Truman and troops leaving for World War I, and views of every day life in the past with photographs of threshing scenes, nutting parties and parade floats.
Search the Galesburg Collection from the opening screen by entering “Galesburg Public Library.” You may also order reproductions of the photos.
Galesburg Railroad Museum
The Galesburg Railroad Museum preserves the history of the railroad industry in Galesburg and the surrounding area. Located at 211 S. Seminary Street, the phone number is 309-342-9400.
Daily Life Along the CB&Q Railroad
To celebrate its centennial in 1955, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad hired Newberry President and Librarian Stanley Pargellis and newspaperman and historian Lloyd Lewis to edit a book documenting the social and economic impact of the railroad. The resulting Granger Country: A Pictorial Social History of the Burlington Railroad (1949) was heavily illustrated with historical materials and contemporary photographs taken by two nationally recognized photographers, Esther Bubley and Russell Lee. Their photographs tell the Burlington story through images of trains, stations, rails, travelers, and workers. A online digital collection contains a selection of these unique photographs, focusing on Illinois scenes, the railroad, and its workers. Click here to visit the digital archive of the Daily Life Along the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad.
Use of Materials
Due to the priceless and, in many cases, irreplaceable nature of some Archive materials, they are only to be used in the library and when the archivist is available.
However, certain items that are kept in the Archive can usually be retrieved from the Illinois Room even if the archivist is not available. These include:
- Obituary indexes (many are on open shelving near the microfilm)
- City directories after 1961 (earlier years are on microfilm)
- Galesburg High School yearbooks
- Budget newspapers
- Knox County plat books
For security reasons, if the library archivist is not available, all other archival materials cannot be retrieved by Reference staff. The library archivist is normally available to assist visitors and researchers with materials from the Illinois Room the following days and times:
- Mondays from 11-8
- Tuesdays-Thursdays from 9-5
- Three Fridays a month from 9-5
- One weekend a month (Saturday 9-5)
Anyone making a special trip to the Galesburg Public Library to use archival materials is encouraged to call ahead (309-343-6118) to ensure that the archivist and the materials will be available. This will ensure that you are not disappointed when you visit.
When using items from the Illinois Room, visitors and researchers are asked to conform to security and handling precautions to protect the library’s holdings. Anyone requesting archival material will be asked to provide a current photo ID, a current address and phone number, and a signature before receiving materials. Materials are to be used at certain designated locations in the adult services area. Library staff appreciate your cooperation in safeguarding this priceless and irreplaceable collection.
Reproduction and Use of Materials
Publication of reproduced material or use of quotations or images from original archival material requires separate written permission and use of an approved credit line.
All images used in printed, electronic or digital publications, on film or video, on web sites and in exhibitions must be credited with the following: “Courtesy: Archives of the Galesburg Public Library, Galesburg, Illinois.” In those cases where images are being used on an internet page, or the equivalent thereof, the citation should be made into a link to the Galesburg Public Library’s homepage at www.galesburglibrary.org. Please consult with the archivist at 309-343-6118 during library hours or via email for additional information.
Not all materials may be photocopied. Photocopies and reproductions may be obtained for a fee if the physical condition of the material permits reproduction. A photo reproduction and use form is available online. Additional information may be obtained from the archivist.
Responsibilities of User
Patrons are expected to use all materials with care and respect. Pencils only may be used for writing when working with these materials.
Researchers and users assume full responsibility for conforming with the laws of privacy, copyright and literary property rights which may be involved in the use of these materials.
Donation of Historical Documents and Photographs
The library is interested in receiving donations of materials documenting Galesburg and Knox County history for its local history collection. Additional information is available in the library’s gift policy or by contacting the archivist at 309-343-6118 or via email.
School Yearbooks for Sale
The library is selling duplicate copies of the Galesburg High School yearbook Reflector from random years. The cost is $10 per yearbook. Contact the archivist at 309-343-6118 or via email for additional information.