In The News

More Than Books: Orphan Train repeats- Freeport

This article originally appeared in The Freeport Journal-Standard

By Carole Dickerson

Freeport, Ill. — The “One Book, One Freeport” community-wide read program got off to a rousing start with its kick-off presentation by Janesville, Wisconsin author Clark Kidder, who talked about his very own grandmother’s experience as one of the Orphan Train children who came from the East to the Midwest in the early years of the twentieth century. Mr. Kidder drew a standing-room only crowd, but I had to miss him. I was among the people who went right out and got a flu shot but went right on and caught the flu anyway. Bummer! But there’s good news: I have another chance to hear Clark Kidder speak. 

 Mr. Kidder is scheduled for an encore presentation at 7 p.m., Monday, January 28, for me, and for the significant number of people who had to be turned away from his original talk after the meeting room topped out with 180 people. Mr. Kidder’s PowerPoint program is sponsored by the Stephenson County Museum, the Freeport Public Library Foundation, and the Illinois Humanities Council. I’m also looking forward to a lively question and answer period following the talk. 

 Mr. Kidder will have copies of his books, “Orphan Trains and Their Precious Cargo” and “Emily’s Story: The Brave Journey of an Orphan Train Rider” for sale and signing at the program.

 The Stephenson County Museum exhibit “Stephenson Journey Stories: The Role of the Railroads,” at the library through Feb. 16, is the basis for Mr. Kidder’s appearance here. It is also the basis for the 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 22 lecture, “Black Migration to Freeport,” by Joyce Salter Johnson. 

 Joyce Salter Johnson’s genealogy research led to two books, “The Early Black Settlers of Stephenson County, Illinois – 1830-1930” and a companion book, “A Pictorial History of Early Black Settlers of Stephenson County, Illinois – 1830-1930.” Both will be available for purchase at her Tuesday evening program.

 Admission to both lectures is free, and refreshments are courtesy of the Library Foundation, but attendees are asked to please bring along a non-perishable food item. Donated food for the programs will be divided between the Salvation Army and the Freeport Area Church Cooperative.

 The Stephenson County Museum exhibit is a parallel program to Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit “Journey Stories,” a Museum on Main Street (MOMS) partnership between the Smithsonian Institute and the Illinois Humanities Council. It is here in Freeport thanks to another partnership between the Stephenson County Museum, the library, and our corporate sponsor, O’Mara Moving & Storage. 

‘One Book’ Update

 Over 1,000 copies of “I Came A Stranger:  Growing Up at Hull House” by Hilda Satt Polachek, have been given away at the library and at select spots throughout the county, courtesy of the Library Foundation, for the community-wide reading program that umbrellas all the “Journey Story” exhibits and lectures. If you’re really, really lucky, you may be able to still locate a copy, but they’re going fast. 

“One Book, One Freeport” sponsors include the Library Foundation, the Stephenson County Museum, the Freeport Art Museum, the Freeport Community Foundation, Freeport School District 145, Aquin High School, the University of Illinois Extension serving Jo Daviess, Stephenson and Winnebago Counties, Winneshiek Players, and the Lindo Theatre. 

 For all you could want to know about the “One Book, One Freeport” community –wide reading program, go to 
Carole Dickerson is director of Freeport Public Library