Press Release


Exhibition on American Foodways will open to the public February 25.

CHICAGO—Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will bring “Key Ingredients: America by F ood,” a portable 5-kiosk exhibition designed especially for small museums and historical societies, to Mascoutah, Illinois. The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, February 25 at the Mascoutah Historical Society (504 N. Jefferson Street). The day’s events will feature a keynote lecture by Bruce Kraig, entitled “Illinois Food Traditions” at 7:00 P.M. at the Mascoutah Heritage Museum (306 W. Main Street). Bruce Kraig is President of the Culinary Historians of Chicago and Professor Emeritus of History and Humanities at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

In conjunction with the “Key Ingredients” exhibition, the Mascoutah Historical Society will be hosting a series of events open to the public. On March 7 at 7:00 P.M. at the Historical Society (504 N. Jefferson Street), Penelope Bingham will present “Just What is American Food?” This talk, concerning immigration and the integration of recent immigrants, is reflected in the cookbooks published by various organizations and churches in Mascoutah. Ms. Bingham holds degrees from Wellesley College and the University of Chicago and is a collector of cookbooks. Attendees at Ms. Bingam’s talk are encouraged to bring their vintage cookbooks to the Historical Society. On March 12 at 2:00 P.M. at the Heritage Museum (306 W. Main Street), Miriam Huelsmann will present a slide show about the local collection and processing of maple syrup, titled “Maple Syrup in Illinois? Here’s How It Is Done in Clinton County.” On March 18, from 10:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. at the Mascoutah Heritage Museum (306 W. Main Street) Mary Lu Bretsch will entertain children with stories about the main focus of Key Ingredients—food! All events are free and open to the public. For further details please call the Mascoutah Historical Society at 618-566-2567 or visit the Key Ingredients website at

Key Ingredients” looks at the rich regional food traditions found across the United States, focusing on the diversity of foods and customs associated with them. By displaying a broad selection of photographs, illustrations, and artifacts, the exhibit investigates the way differences in cultures, ethnicities, and classes have created unique American food traditions. The exhibit also examines the tremendous effecttechnological innovation has had on America’s food traditions.

Key Ingredients” is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MOMs) program. MOMs serves small-to medium-sized communities by bringing Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers that traditionally have limited access to traveling exhibitions due to space and cost limitations.

Mascoutah is the last stop on a six-town tour for “Key Ingredients” in Illinois.

For more information about “Key Ingredients,” or any other IHC program, please call (312) 422-5580 or visit

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.


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