Decatur Public Library’s History Room Celebrates the Holidays Online | Arts and theater


The History Room of the Decatur Public Library features a 1961 Decatur advertisement online.


DECATUR – Local history can be seen with modern technology.

The Decatur Public Library has published archival photos and publications on their local history site.

The current images are classified under the The ghosts of Christmas past. The trend started last year at the height of social distancing.

“We put them on our website so people can enjoy them while they’re stuck at home,” said Rebecca Damptz, head of archives and special collections at the Decatur Public Library.

Raw footage from Herald & Review media partner WCIA shows the aftermath of two tornadoes that hit Decatur in April 1996.

Each month, the Library’s History Room features historical artifacts and photos, all of which reflect Decatur’s past. Exhibits often focus on holidays or current seasons, such as winter in Decatur or Black History Month. “But the New Year’s display will go up on December 1,” Damptz said.

With the success of the online galleries, the library continued with the current holiday exhibit, The Ghost of Christmas Past. The images feature advertisements from companies no longer serving customers, such as Kresge’s Christmas Savings and Black’s Toyland, and various Christmas newspaper articles from 1937.

Library history room

A 1955 ad is posted on the Decatur Public Library History Hall website.


“A lot of things have to do with having Santa Claus in Decatur,” Damptz said.

Online exhibits will be available after the season. “We improved our digital game during COVID,” Damptz said. “We were closed. We knew people were confined to the house. Why not just continue with our screens, but do them on a digital scale. “

The images had already been saved for the library’s own archival resources. Librarians have access to the Herald & Review archives.

“We love this thing,” Damptz said of the service.

ANNE LLOYD GALLERY. The Decatur Area Arts Center, Decatur’s downtown gallery, hosts the Holiday Gift Shoppe. The Arts Council will be offering extended hours during the Downtown Christmas Walk until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1. The store will remain open until December 24.

BLUE CONNECTION. The Millikin University student-run art gallery will feature handmade holiday items as well as the Holiday Gift Shoppe, located next door in the Anne Lloyd Gallery.

ILLINOIS CENTRAL TITLE COMPANY. Pam Marty’s artwork will be on display again on the S. Water St. site until December.

DECATUR AIRPORT GALLERY. Shirley Buescher’s work will remain on display at the airport gallery throughout December.

GALLERY 510. The Downtown Gallery will be displaying watercolors by Jessica Stricklin Disbrow through December.

GIERTZ GALLERY. The Parkland College Gallery will present the State of the Art: Ceramics Biennale, which will be on display until February 5.

For more information visit the Giertz Gallery Facebook page at Parkland College or

HISTORY ROOM. The History Room at the Decatur Public Library will feature online exhibits, including ghosts from Decatur’s Christmas past. Visit

GUARDIANS OF THE ARTS IN THE GALLERY AND FLORISH STUDIOS. The Downtown Shelbyville Gallery will feature the first exhibition of the Biblical Creations Show, which features artwork by children from the First United Methodist Church in Shelbyville. Check the gallery’s website for exhibits and more information. For an appointment, call (217) 827-5690.

LINCOLN INSTITUTE OF ART. The Lincoln Gallery of Artists of Logan County will present a monthly exhibition. For future visits, call (217) 651-8355 for an appointment.

PERKINSON ART GALLERY. The gallery located in the Kirkland Fine Arts Center will display works from the college’s permanent collection, showcasing the hidden treasures they have collected. The exhibition will run from December 3 to January 13. For more information about the gallery, contact the Millikin Arts Department at (217) 424-6227.

ROCK SPRINGS NATURAL CENTER. The Rock Springs Nature Center will showcase David Castor’s photography in the South Gallery of the Nature Center. The north gallery will present the works of artists from the barn colony.

The exhibitions will be presented in November and December.

TARBLE ARTS CENTER. The Eastern Illinois University Gallery will present the “Force Majeure” exhibit in the Main Gallery. “Mend Piece” by Yoko Ono will be exhibited in the Studio gallery. Both exhibitions will be on display until December 4. For more information, call (217) 581-2787 or email [email protected]

UNIVERSITY GALLERIES. The Illinois State University Art Gallery will schedule gallery tours. Current exhibitions will include “What the Stars Can’t Tell Us” by Caroline Kent and “Second Line” by TJ Dedeaux-Norris, both exhibitions being on display until December.

For more information on future exhibitions, visit

GALLERY ON THE FLOOR. Leta Burch will once again be featured in the gallery on the second floor of the Decatur Public Library.

WILDFLOUR ARTISANAL BAKERY COFFEE. Sue Watts’ work will once again be the featured artist for December.

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


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