Collection loca.his - Subject Guide to Local History Files in the Jesse Lowe Smith Historical Room

Inger Boye : A Tribute to Inger Boye children's librarian 1935-1964

Identity area

Reference code

US IHigp loca.his


Subject Guide to Local History Files in the Jesse Lowe Smith Historical Room


  • circa 1869-2015 : bulk 1880-1934 (Creation)

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ca. 45 Linear Feet : circa 550 files

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Name of creator

(1888 -)

Administrative history

The Highland Park Public Library its doors on April 6, 1888.
Less than a year earlier, at the July 7, 1887 City Council meeting, residents had presented a petition for a public library in Highland Park. On September 14, 1887 the Highland Park City Council adopted an ordinance for the establishment of a tax-supported public library and appropriated $260 annually for its maintenance. The Library collection included 400 books and was housed at the same space the City Council rented on the first floor of the Charles A. Kuist Hardware Store on the Northside of Central. Marsalene Green served as the first librarian.
In July 1889, Library moved to the newly constructed City Hall building on Central Ave. and Green Bay. As the collection continued to grow, library moved to the former Young Men's Club House on Sheridan Road in 1900 where it remained for five years. Plans for a new library were proposed in 1903. The Highland Park Woman's Club led a fundraising campaign for the participation of Andrew Carnegie, who donated $12,000 in its construction. The A. C. Thompson family donated the land with the caveat it be used exclusively in perpetuity for a public library.
Highland Park and its public library collection continued to grow. In 1927 the board of trustees and the newly hired librarian, Cora Hendee, the library's first professionally trained librarian, proposed a new library building.
Holmes and Flinn were charged with designing the space, and chose a gothic style with limestone. The finished library was dedicated on September 20th, 1931. The first renovation to this library came in 1960, when the children's collection outgrew its space and was given a new wing on the building's west side, designed by Bertram Weber. In 1976 a modern adult wing was also added to the south side by Wendt, Cedarholm, and Tippens. A series of renovations stretched from the late 1980s to 2000, focusing on access for people with disabilities, heating, ventilation, electrical, lighting and layout redesign. Several renovations have occurred in the 21st century.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Jesse Lowe Smith (1869-1934) was an educator and naturalist who served as Superintendent of Schools for District 107 and the principal of the Elm Place School in Highland Park, Illinois from 1902 until his death. A devoted, progressive pedagogue, Smith fostered a love and understanding of the natural world, the arts and culture in students during his tenure at Elm Place School. Smith served on the Highland Park Public Library board, as director of the North Shore Arts League, and as President of the Chicago chapter of the National Geographic Society. Additional civic activities included appointments on the Highland Park Tree and Parkway Commission, the Audubon Society of Chicago (Director) and Friends of Our Native Landscape (Director). He was an avid traveler in the United States and abroad.

Jesse Lowe Smith was born in Macon Illinois on November 23, 1869. From a young age, Smith expressed an avid interest in nature and learning. Smith attended DePauw University for one year in 1891 and received his teaching certificate in 1894 at the age of 25. After teaching at several different schools in Illinois including Lexington and Park Ridge, Smith became the principal of the Elm Place School in Highland Park Illinois in 1902 as well as the Superintendent of Schools for District 107. Smith held those posts for 32 years until his death on April 21, 1934 at the age of 65. Jesse Lowe Smith devoted his life to teaching and sharing his knowledge and love of nature with students. He was a proponent of progressive education including the use of the latest technology at the time, such as the lantern slides in this collection, and also by incorporating nature and the arts into the curriculum by including field trips into nature and to museums and cultural institutions. Jesse Lowe Smith was active on the Library board, and director of the North Shore Art League, and as well as president of the Chicago chapter of the National Geographic Society for which he led an expedition to Montana.

Archival history

Jesse Lowe Smith established Local History Collections in tandem with the first Highland Park Historical Society in 1934. The Highland Park Public Library accreted items and files on an ongoing basis.

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Scope and content

This is a topical file, arranged alphabetically by subject. Subjects include people, places, buildings and events in Highland Park, Illinois.

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None known.

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