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Special Collections acquires documents by ISU founder

Illinois State University’s Special Collections recently acquired documents during Jesse Fell’s time as paymaster for the Union Army from 1862 to 1863.

The materials were purchased from a dealer specializing in rare documents. They will reside in the Lincoln Collection of Harold K. Sage.

Special Collections and Rare Books librarian Maureen Brunsdale described the content of the papers.

“All documents pertain to the time Fell served the Union as paymaster,” Brunsdale said. “They reveal great detail about the position in which he served and the men who corresponded with him in relation to their pay.”

Prior to his paymaster position, Fell had accomplished many projects in central Illinois. According to the McLean County Museum of History’s official website, in 1833, Fell moved to Bloomington. At the time, the city had a population of 180 people, and there was no newspaper in circulation.

Fell was a lawyer, Commissioner of Schools of McLean County and editor of The Bloomington Observer and McLean County Advocate during the first few years he spent in the city.

“Fell is credited with founding the University,” Brunsdale said. In 1857, the State Board of Education was created with establishing a local school for training teachers in mind.

Male citizens of Bloomington donated money or land into the project to have the school located in North Bloomington, raising $141,725 and establishing the Normal School, later named Illinois State University,

“As great friend to Abraham Lincoln, some have suggested he helped persuade Lincoln to run for President of the United States,” Brunsdale explained.

Special Collections intern Becky Stowe believes that the history found in these documents reveals vast amounts of information not known to many.

“There is so much that can be learned from these papers. They give insight into the infrastructure of the Union Army,” Stowe said. “But perhaps more importantly, they open doors to countless stories that will give us a richer understanding of the Civil War from various perspectives.”

Students are invited to examine the documents at Milner Library and to visit the Special Collections website at Library.IllinoisState.edu/Special-Collection/ for more information.

Complete face-lift in works for Bone Center
(Vince Pinto / Photo Editor) Bone Student Center scheduled to go under major renovations after BOT approves revitalization project.

(Archive Photo) The Bone Student Center is scheduled to undergo major renovations.

For 42 years, Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center has acted as a gateway for students into campus. Now, after years of hoping for improvement, the Bone Student Center will be transformed in phases by adding food venues, windows, foyers and more to remake the building.

“This building was built in the Vietnam War era when everything was built like forts, and that’s not how we live anymore,” Director of the Bone Student Center and Braden Auditorium Michelle Paul said. “This new design brings in light with windows, and transparency to see people throughout.”

Similar in look to the ISU Student Fitness Center, the conceptual idea is to open up the building as a whole, allowing for indoor sunlight.

In addition to sun, the Bone will add a defined front door entrance by remaking the current east side entrance.

Plans point to hiding the loading docks, changing the spiral staircase to an open one by directly connecting it to Milner Plaza, and creating a sign fit for the college’s doorstep.

“Our hope is that the new building, when it is completed, will be a lot more inviting and intuitive so as you approach the campus it will be more of a front door,” Director of Facilities Planning David Gill said.

Upon entry through the front door, there will be an admissions welcome center and a Barnes and Noble relocates to the ground floor with the extra space added.

Right up the steps on the third floor ISU Admissions will have a presentation room looking out over the whole quad.

On the other side of the building, the Brown Ballroom will be extended outwards, giving it the ability to host three events simultaneously.

A sign for the ballroom and a separate foyer area will also be located outside.

Project leaders have a goal for the students to experience the student center in different ways, by offering what they describe as “sticky” and “thick” space keeping students in one place and giving many functions for areas.

“With the sticky space we want to bring you in and have you understand there’s lots of different things that I can do in the building. And thick space is more about multitasking,” Paul said.

As one of the busiest buildings on campus, the Bone hosts over 4,500 events during the school year.

Renovations are estimated to begin in the winter of 2016 with years before completion.

New food venues are still up for grabs, although there is a coffee shop proposed on the ground floor near the Bone Center courtyard that may even be two stories.

“Right now there’s a real barrier between the two levels, at grade and the raised plaza deck between Milner and the Bone,” said Gill. “I think this building addition does a really good job of transitioning those level changes and becoming a formal entry to the campus.”

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Communication Spotlight
WGLT wins top regional Edward R. Murrow award; nets 3 honors article thumbnailWGLT wins top regional Edward R. Murrow award; nets 3 honors. The Radio Television Digital News Association has recognized the WGLT News Department with its most prestigious regional Edward R. Murrow award for overall journalistic excellence. [Read the rest]

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