To view our online collection of previous exhibits, please visit our dedicated exhibits site: DCHC Exhibits.org

History of DeKalb County in 100 Objects

This exhibit will open in 2020.

Every object has a story. The best stories are those that help us understand ourselves, This exhibit looks to objects - some at the History Center, while others are found throughout the county - to tell us stories.

exhibit logo

The exhibit has four themes, "Daily life, Change, Special Events and Government." It was a challenge to pick the objects for this exhibit. We asked:

  • "Which objects tell great stories?"
  • "Which ones tell stories you don't expect?
  • "Which have hidden stories?"
  • "Which objects mean different things to different people?"
  • "Which pieces mean something different today to when they were originally created?"
These questions were not confined to objects at the History Center. We reached out to other history groups, as well as considered National Landmarks throughout the County.

Exhibit Example

DeKalb Polka

Waterman Hall Waltz

  • Venetian Troubadours sheet music cover
  • DeKalb Polka sheet music
  • Waterman Hall Waltz sheet music

History: Out and About

We are encouraging people to discover local history that is all around us. "History: Out and About" will feature historical objects/places that are part of the "100 objects," bonus stops, fun facts, and information about some favorite places that are no longer standing. Each week a new township will be featured.

Here is one example of an object featured in the exhibit: In the special event section of "History of DeKalb County in 100 objects"; we highlight sheet music from the Gualano Brothers, who lived in Sycamore. Wes Carr, a 2019 Mandolin Champion, recorded these two pieces - Waterman Hall Waltz and the DeKalb Polka.

The songs were composed in around 1894-1895 and have most likely not been heard in over 100 years. To learn more about Wes Carr, visit his website: www.rwcarr.com.

Townships of DeKalb County:

August 10 - Clinton
August 17 - Sycamore
August 24 - Squaw Grove
August 31 - Cortland
September 7 - Pierce
September 14 - DeKalb
September 21 - Afton
September 28 - Malta
October 5 - Milan

Due to the COVID-19 "Shelter in Place" order, we do not know when our exhibit will open, but we figured we could still have fun and generate some interest in local history." In April, we invited the public to participate in a brackets game; "From 100 to 1 ~ Favorite Objects Connected to DeKalb County History." Sixteen objects were selected for the public to vote on. The winner was announced on April 27 "National Tell a Story Day."

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