An exhibit created by the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission (SCHPC) to commemorate the state bicentennial has been placed in Alumni Hall, where it will stay through Feb. 18.
Director of the Library Jeff Douglas was contacted by an alumnus connected to the SCHPC regarding bringing the traveling exhibit to Knox College, and agreed to find an appropriate place for it to be located at the school.
“It’s a unique opportunity to bring this kind of information about the Illinois judicial system, its past and its present, to the campus in an interesting format,” Douglas said.
Director of Government and Community Relations Karrie Heartlein, who was involved in the exhibit’s placement in Alumni Hall, described the exhibit as providing a taste of the past 200 years of Illinois legal history.
“[The exhibit is about ] thinking about how those are people’s, real people’s, lives and giving us a glimpse into what their lives were like, and the issues that the people in this state have faced over the years,” she said.
Knox College is the third school to host the exhibit, following the College of DuPage and University of Illinois College of Law. It is a three panel display covering the structure and history of Illinois courts, as well as famous cases and lawyers that have come from the state.
Heartlein stated the exhibit is traveling both to schools and other foot traffic locations such as courthouses. Future locations planned for the exhibit include Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the Northwestern School of Law.
“I think it’s always valuable to bring in history — history of the state, history of the country,” Heartlein said. “Needless to say we have the history of the college well presented up here in Alumni Hall and we encourage people to come by and to see it.”
What Douglas found particularly interesting about the exhibit is that it highlighted how issues like school desegregation have been in discussion at the state level as early as the 1870s and that it highlights the importance the courts play at the state level.
“Every state has its own supreme court which are making important decisions, and they kind of go below the radar,” Douglas said. “There is this very distinct judicial system that has a long history in the state of Illinois and it is something that is continually changing and evolving with the times.”
Douglas noted that on Wednesday, Feb. 13 Illinois State Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride will speak in the Alumni Hall Trustee’s Room, an appearance in association with the exhibit.
Heartlein noted the hope that next week’s celebration of Founder’s Day will also provide an opportunity for visiting alumni and trustees to see the temporary exhibit, as well as encouraged students to take the chance to visit the exhibit.
“You want to spark [people’s] interest and curiosity” Heartlein said. “You’ve got to give them a taste of history and then let them develop their appetite from there.”