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Southern Illinois icons featured in ‘Here I Have Lived: Home in Illinois’

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Date(s) - 03/23/2023 - 01/21/2024
12:00 am

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum/Library building


A major new exhibit opening next week at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will explore the elusive idea of “home” and the many different ways Illinoisans have made this state their home over the centuries.

“Here I Have Lived: Home in Illinois” will introduce visitors to

  • Black Hawk, the Sauk leader who refused to be driven away from the land where he grew up
  • Ritta DeFreitas, a young immigrant who worked for Abraham and Mary Lincoln
  • Michelle Obama, who started out in a Chicago bungalow and wound up in the White House
  • Richard Pryor, who grew up in Peoria and used humor to make Americans face difficult truths.

The stories featured in “Here I Have Lived” include a fascinating array of southern Illinois residents, including visionary designer R. Buckminster Fuller and pathbreaking filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.

The exhibit opens March 23 and runs through Jan. 21, 2024, in the museum’s Illinois Gallery, a space used for highlighting Illinois history as part of the ALPLM’s role as the state historical library. The exhibit is free with regular museum admission.

“Illinois has welcomed refugees and entrepreneurs. It has produced artists and reformers. It offered a helping hand to some and a cold shoulder to others. Every one of them had a different idea of what it meant to call Illinois their home,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “What could be a better way to connect with people of the past, both famous and unknown, than by focusing on the very personal idea of home?”

The stories are told through photographs and rare artifacts. Visitors will see a photo locket carried by Mary Lincoln, a first edition of Black Hawk’s autobiography and Ronald Reagan’s college letterman sweater. They’ll also find a sculpture that was displayed in the Lincoln home, a table designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a Supreme Court ruling that changed the life of playwright Lorraine Hansberry.

Visitors will be able to listen to interviews with current Illinois residents about their thoughts on home. Questions throughout the exhibit will prompt visitors to think about what home means to them, and they’ll be able to share their answers at the end.

“Here I Have Lived” features multiple stories from southern Illinois.

There’s Fuller, whose dome house in Carbondale was just one of his many attempts to imagine and design a better future. Then there’s Micheaux, who grew up in Metropolis and eventually became a novelist and America’s first major Black movie director.

Fuller and Micheaux were able to travel the world. Louisa Phifer stayed on her farm near Vandalia and kept seven children fed and clothed while her husband served in the Civil War, and her story is part of the exhibit, too.

The exhibit takes its name from a phrase Lincoln used when saying farewell to the city of Springfield for the final time: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return …”

The exhibit is sponsored in part by Isringhausen Imports of Illinois.

The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is to inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of the ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials – roughly 13 million items from all eras of Illinois history.

For more information, visit You can follow the ALPLM on FacebookTwitter and In

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