What We Do

In order to further the understanding of the cultural and natural history of the land embraced by the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the MHA is active in a number of areas. Much of this work is done as Midewin volunteers, often in coordination with Midewin's Prairie Archaeologist. Some of our major activities are:

Historical Tours and Programs

As part of Midewin’s summer tour program, MHA members conduct heritage-related tours. We present heritage-related programs, both as part of Midewin’s winter lecture series and outside of Midewin. MHA and Midewin collaborated on a self-guided walking tour of the Rodgers Schumacher Farmstead at the Iron Bridge Trailhead. We have also done first-person historical dramatizations, most notably a series of programs commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

Six people in Civil War era costumes.

Lorin Schab, Gayle Crompton, Andrew Schab, Marcia Baumgartner, Bill Molony, and Elspeth Stanzil at a program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Photo: Gayle Crompton

Archive Research

MHA members conduct research on a variety of topics. This can involve Internet searches or combing through paper and microfilm files.

Oral Histories

This on-going work entails the interviewing of people who have been involved in one way or another with the land of Midewin over the decades. It includes talking in detail with members of farmstead families, Arsenal workers, and people who were involved in the early days of Midewin. It also involves recording and transcribing the interviews.

Three people looking at artifacts on a table.

Sharon Kramer, Tom Coyne, and Midewin Archaeologist Joe Wheeler look at artifacts from previous archaeological excavations. Photo: Sharon Kramer


Many artifacts are in need of restoration or preservation. For example, we have restored a historic 1871 print which illustrates prairie farming in Illinois. This is now framed and on display at Midewin. From the Arsenal, many original signs, ammunition casings, and other artifacts have been carefully preserved. Many artifacts from previous archaeological excavations are being cleaned, sorted, researched, cataloged, and boxed for sending to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield.

Archaeological Work

MHA members lend a hand in ongoing archaeological excavations at Midewin. The current project, which is coming to a close, is an exploration of a Late Huber Native American site on Midewin, conducted by professors from the University of Notre Dame in coordination with the Midewin archaeologist.

A man kneeling by a square hole in the ground, holding a trowel.

Tom Coyne troweling at an archaeological excavation. Photo: Carol Ference

Does any of this sound interesting to you?

Would you like to get involved? Visit our Volunteer page. There you can see a complete list of heritage volunteer activities, with instructions for signing up.