The Oswegoland Heritage Association
When the Oswego School District announced plans to sell the historic Little White School in 1975, a grassroots group of local citizens joined together to establish the Oswegoland Heritage Association with the goal of saving and restoring the building and opening a community museum and archives in it. The heritage association was incorporated with the State of Illinois in 1976 and was also granted 501(c)3 non profit status by the U.S. Government.
Restoration work on the building continued from 1977 through 2002 using a combination of volunteer labor and donations and financial assistance from the Oswegoland Park District.
Today, the Little White School Museum is a model of a private/public partnership. While the Oswegoland Heritage Association is still responsible for overseeing any remaining restoration projects and for maintaining and preserving the historically priceless artifact and archival collections of the Little White School Museum, the Oswegoland Park District owns and maintains the building, provides logistical support, and provides personnel to maintain the museum’s seven days a week schedule.
The mission of the Oswegoland Heritage Association is to collect, preserve, and interpret the cultural history of the geographical area defined by the boundaries of Oswego Community School District 308.
Board of Directors…
The Oswegoland Heritage Association is governed by a nine-member board of directors whose regular meetings are at 7:30 p.m. at the museum on the last Thursday of each month. Three directors are elected for three-year terms during each year’s annual meeting, held on the last Thursday of May.
Current board members are president, Judy Wheeler; secretary, Ken Donart; treasurer and assistant museum director, Bob Stekl; museum director, Roger Matile; Tina Beaird; Mary Church; Fred Mitchell; Ted Clauser; and Cathi Mundsinger.
Why you should join the Oswegoland Heritage Association
The Oswegoland Heritage Association was established to protect and preserve the history and heritage of the Oswegoland area. It is essential to study and preserve our own local history because:
- It aids in community building. People who share a history—even different sides of the same story—can discover the understanding, insight, and respect needed to build a common future. History provides the foundation for talking about the things that matter in our community today.
- It provides context and inspiration. Sometimes a historical perspective on where we have been lets us see more clearly our progress towards where we would like to be. History cautions us, but it also gives us hope. When people understand the differences made by the actions of those who have gone before, they see that their actions can make a difference. They believe that they can make history, too.
- It helps us explore who we are. History gives each generation a means to discover the people and the events that speak most clearly to the problems of their own time and helps each prepare for and build their own futures. When people get involved with the past, they begin to see themselves connected to others—to their family, community, nation, or a group defined by ethnicity, religion, work or play. The result promotes a sense of belonging, direction, and meaning.
- It enables us to extend and sharpen memory. Memory often fails. Even eyewitnesses often don’t get it right. Each of us brings our own distinctive life experiences and habits of mind to building our accounts of the past, so it’s easy to fall prey to biased accounts and become combative with those whose views of the past disturb or repel us. But history offers a discipline that can lead us out of these dead-end approaches to the past, a discipline that asks that we immerse ourselves in all the evidence from the past. It also asks that we weigh others’ accounts of what happened and what those events meant, both critically and with empathy. The value of this aspect of history is that it can help us move beyond our narrow, divergent views of the past to more productive discussions about which tomorrows are not only possible but also worthwhile.
So why not join the on-going preservation and discussion of Oswegoland’s rich history and heritage today?
Current membership categories and benefits include:
☛Friend: $20 one-year membership includes three newsletters each year; one free admission to an OHA program, a 20% discount at the museum store.
☛ Sponsor: $75 (or more) one-year membership includes all the benefits of Friend membership.
☛ Business/Organization: $150 one-year membership includes all the benefits of a Sponsor membership, plus recognition in three consecutive newsletters as a patron and benefactor of the Oswegoland Heritage Association.
☛ Lifetime Gold: $1,000 lifetime membership includes all the benefits of the Sponsor membership, a free copy of 150 Years Along the Fox: The History of Oswego Township, Illinois, a 192-page hardcovered book; plus a special permanent membership card and framed Lifetime Gold membership certificate.
To join or renew your membership, please print and complete the membership form and mail to:
Oswegoland Heritage Association
Oswego, IL 60543
For a gift membership, send your name, address, and phone number, along with the name and address of the person you wish to gift with the membership, and a check for the appropriate amount to the above address.