Monthly Archives: April 2020

‘The Big Tent Theatre’, 1936

The Big Tent Theatre, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-relief programs, played to packed houses at West Grand Avenue (today’s MacArthur Boulevard) and Outer Park Drive in 1936. The Big Tent was formally part of the Federal Theatre Project, which … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Arts and letters, Depression, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Toddler food poisoning deaths, 1927

Contaminated cream puffs apparently were the source of the poison that killed three toddlers and sickened a half-dozen more in a Springfield foundling home in 1927. The suspect cream puffs were on the breakfast menu at the Springfield Redemption Home, … Continue reading

Posted in Children, Public health, Social services | Leave a comment

Lanphier High School’s historic Earth Day flag

A homemade flag Lanphier High School students carried to the Statehouse in 1970 as a symbol of the environmental movement found a permanent home in the Smithsonian Institution. But a mystery remains: who sewed the flag? Smithsonian Magazine revived the … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Schools and school districts, Science | 11 Comments

Telephones in Springfield, 1939-84

Dial telephones went into use in Springfield in dramatic fashion on Aug. 20, 1939. Four minutes before midnight, crews of workmen in two separate locations simultaneously disabled the old operator switchboards and plugged 21,000 telephones into the new one. “With … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Communications | 2 Comments

Dual telephone service in Springfield (1903-19)

Sangamon County was a hub for early telephone development, thanks partly to its geographic position between St. Louis and Chicago and partly to the county’s relationship with Bell Telephone. In 1881 a newly formed company, American Bell Telephone, bought a … Continue reading

Posted in Business, Communications | 1 Comment

Worst coal mine accident (1918)

Four coal miners were killed Feb. 23, 1918, in the worst coal mine accident in Sangamon County history. Six employees of the mine, Citizens Coal Co.’s Mine A west of Springfield, were charged with negligence and violating mining laws, but … Continue reading

Posted in Coal mines and mining, Industry | Leave a comment