Press Release

Traveling Smithsonian Exhibit will Explore the History of American Migration


CHICAGO, IL- March 1, 2012 Whether a pilgrim, pioneer, immigrant, tourist or slave, Americans in motion shaped who we are today, and where our country will go. Beginning this summer, Illinoisans will have a chance to re-live their own journey stories through a unique traveling exhibit created by the Smithsonian Institution 

The Illinois Humanities Council announces the opening of Journey Stories, a traveling exhibition of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition will premiere this June in Mt. Vernon, and travel to five other communities across Illinois through April 2013.    

 Journey Stories looks at the flow of American history from the viewpoint of mobility: Of our right to move about as we please, to pull up stakes, and all the human experiences that go with it. Through engaging images, audio, and artifacts, the exhibit will explore the stories of people leaving behind everything – voluntarily or involuntarily – to reach a new life in  a new place. The exhibit will also examine the intersection between modes of travel and Americans’ desire to feel free to move through the accounts of individuals and families relocating in search of fortune, their own homestead, or employment; the harrowing journeys of Africans and Native Americans forced to move; and, of course, fun and frolic on the open road. 

“You have to look in the diaries, the entries, interview people, look at old accounts, and get the flavor of what it what it was like to be mobile”, says William Withuhn, the curator of the exhibit and curator of transportation for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “We are a nation of immigrants, we are a nation of people who were here already, who were very mobile. Some of us came in chains, some us came dreaming of something better. And focusing on that, rather than just the history of a place, but indeed, how people got there- I think is actually a fundamental part of the American story.”  

Journey Stories is part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Illinois Humanities Council. MoMS serves small-to medium-sized communities across Illinois by bringing Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers around the country and state of Illinois.

 The exhibit is scheduled to visit the following sites:

·         Jefferson County Historical Society, Mt. Vernon: June 23-August 4, 2012

·         Glen Carbon Centennial Library, Glen Carbon: August 11- September 23, 2012

·         Nauvoo Tourism Office w/Nauvoo Historical Society, Nauvoo: September 29- November 10, 2012

·         Princeton Public Library, Princeton: November 17-December 29, 2012

·         Stephenson County Historical Society, Freeport: January 5- February 16, 2013

·         City of Pontiac, Illinois Tourism Office, Pontiac: February 23- April 6, 2013

 Special events and presentations reflecting the local histories of each site will also take place. Contact the local site for more information. Visit the Illinois Humanities Council’s website at to view photos, a video trailer, and additional information about Journey Stories. 

 About the Illinois Humanities Council 
The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. The IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.  


Media Contact:

Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233  

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