Cuba High School’s History Club visits Our Front Porch, Sunday, March 19, 2023, 2:00 to 3:30 pm

*Western Illinois Museum Press Release

The Western Illinois Museum is pleased to welcome the Cuba High School’s History Club to its indoor, Our Front Porch. Members of the club will share their insights on the history of Forgottonia that they learned through conducting oral histories with members of their community. Students and Joe Brewer, Cuba High School History Teacher and Club Advisor discuss a wide variety of topics, such as mining, railroads, rural schools, and the Forgottonia movement. The one-hour program will begin at 2:00 pm and include time for questions and answers. Refreshments will be served following the program.

The Oral History of Forgottonia series is part of the National Council of History Educators (NCHE) Rural Experience in America program that began in 2021. The NCHE recruited and offered grants to teachers and community partners nationwide to participate in free and open professional development that focuses on rural history and historical inquiry using Library of Congress sources. Teacher and Club Advisor, Joe Brewer, and Museum Director, Sue Scott traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, to collaborate with other educators and community partners to learn about teaching with primary sources and develop a public history project. The development of the Cuba History Club and the Oral History of Forgottonia project is the outcome of this grant. In addition to the Museum, the Western Illinois University Archives’ Kathy Nichols, and local Historian, John Hallwas are also community partners for the project.

The students worked with their advisor, Joe Brewer to learn interview techniques including identifying topics and relevant questions to cover. Their interviews are available as podcasts and can be found on the project website along with primary sources and references about the topic. The projects include: Dr. Francis Regnier: The Forgotten Hero of New Salem by Amber Cannon; Experiencing a Rural School Closure, Cooper Leonard interviewed Retired Principal Daryle Coleman; Mining in Western Illinois, Braxton Humphrey interviewed David Lidwell; Railroads in Western Illinois, Gavin Johnson interviewed local railroad enthusiast, Bill Leitze; Getting to Know Forgottonia’s Governor, Cadie and Courtney Churchill interviewed John Marshall, Fulton County in the Civil War, Jayson Stead interviewed Lincoln enthusiast Rick Klinedinst; The Dickson Mounds Protest by Ella Bass; How Fulton County Was Divided During the Civil War, Jayson Stead interviewed Dr. Tim Roberts, WIU History Professor and author of “This Infernal War: The Civil War Letters of William and Jane Standard.”

The work the students have accomplished is evidence that these community-based, service-learning public history projects enable students to investigate their local and regional histories to deeply connect their own histories to the larger human experience. A key purpose of this project is to link rural communities and their histories to national narratives and primary source collections, and the targeted focus of this proposal provides an avenue for such purposeful connections. The Oral History of Forgottonia, is one of several throughout the country supported by the NCHE. To learn about other projects developed with this grant and learn more about Teaching with Primary Sources, visit the website at

The Western Illinois Museum is located at 201 South Lafayette Street, one block south of Macomb’s Courthouse Square. For more information about the program, call 309.837.2750, email, or text 309.837.2613.

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