Illinois political history in Special Collections

John Wenum

John Wenum, 1974 Wesleyana

In addition to legislative Illinois alumni, IWU has another connection to Illinois’ political history through the work of Political Science Professor John Wenum who compiled a collection about the fourth (and currently in effect) iteration of Illinois’ Constitution.

John Wenum was a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention (Con-Con). The work at this Con-Con resulted in a first-ever state Constitution that explicitly guaranteed citizens the right to a healthy environment. Wenum joined IWU’s faculty in 1971 and received the Award for Teaching Excellence in 1992.

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The Con-Con items in the display pictured here are a Farm Bureau handbook, the Constitutional Convention Newsletter, and correspondence between Wenum and the State Chamber of Commerce. These are just a few selections from the 14 linear feet (unprocessed) collection of materials Wenum gathered during his campaign to become a delegate and his work at the Con-Con itself.

Within The Ames Library’s 4th floor department called Tate Archives & Special Collections are thousands of unique materials and all are available to benefit people in the IWU and surrounding communities.

The items displayed in these posts about Special Collections holdings are just a small portion of the kinds of materials found in Tate Archives & Special Collections. These collections are in a variety of languages and formats (artifact, book, manuscript, and media) and creation dates range from the 11th-21st centuries. Some collections are completely described and identified and some have yet to be thoroughly organized or examined.

Although many holdings do have a direct connection to the University, many are distinct and unrelated to the others such as the supporting materials for research on the people who created and collected the pottery and basketry items displayed in the entry level rotunda.

Curious minds seeking inspiration for creative works and original research are welcome to stop by and explore the possibilities!