Ida B. Wells, New Philadelphia, and Who Killed My Grandma?

Illinois Humanities announces new round of Activate History microgrants for engaging communities with local archives & collections 

Mark Hallett, Director of Grants Programs

Read Time 2 minutes
April 21, 2021

Illinois Humanities is pleased to announce the third round of Activate History microgrants. This initiative, created in early 2020, is meant to support small organizations as well as professional and amateur historians alike in engaging communities with the archives and collections they steward. Applicants get a stipend of $500 to carry out programs, as well as access to free training in facilitation by Illinois Humanities (in partnership with the Covey Group).  Applicants can also request an additional $100 to help make their events more accessible to all audiences.

This round consists of 12 projects totaling $6,600, from across the state of Illinois. In a program to be hosted by the Chicago Collections Consortium (or CCC), Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells will discuss the research she conducted in writing her recent book, “Ida B. the Queen – The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells.” In conversation with Sherry Williams, founder and president of the Bronzeville Historical Society, and Jeanne Long, executive director of the CCC, Duster will discuss the various archival holdings she used in her research.

The New Philadelphia Association will host the 2021 Likes Lecture series. The series focuses on the town of New Philadelphia, located in west central Illinois (west of Peoria) and founded in 1836 by Free Frank McWorter, who bought his own freedom from slavery in Kentucky and then that of 16 family members.

Quinton Sledge, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will research the murder of his maternal great-grandmother, originally from Mt. Vernon, Ill. Sledge, who is already far along into the research, plans to produce the podcast “Who Murdered My Grandma?”

The entire list includes:

  • Chicago Collections Consortium / Author Michelle Duster discussing research on her recent publication “Ida B. the Queen – The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells” (Cook County)
  • Dee Walls / “Preserving Black Food Histories and Traditions” (Champaign County)
  • eve bridges / “The B.F. Ferguson Fund & the Shaping of Chicago’s Public Space” (Cook County)
  • Fox Tales International / “Immersed in Scandinavian Folklore – Let’s Reflect on our Family’s Folklore” (Henry County)
  • Groundswell Educational Films / “Chicago Film History: The Chicagoan Who Invented Hollywood” on William N. Selig (Cook County)
  • Haitian American Museum of Chicago / “Commemorating Nicole Smith: Gallerist, Curator, Visionary” (Cook County)
  • Jennifer Boles / “The Reversal at the Riverwalk” (Cook County)
  • Mars Silver / “Unpublished” (Cook County)
  • New Philadelphia Association / “Likes Lecture Series” (Pike County)
  • Peoria Historical Society / “Moses Pettengill & the Abolitionist Movement in Peoria” (Peoria County)
  • Pilsen Public Art Tours / “Pilsen Murals: The 18th Street Edition” (Cook County)
  • Quinton Sledge / “Who Murdered My Grandma? A Podcast: A true crime investigation and archive analysis” (Cook County)

The next deadline for Activate History applications is September 1, 2021. For more, visit or reach out to Mark Hallett at