Resources & Links

Alton has a long and rich history as a Mississippi River town. The range of historical happenings which have shaped Alton is as varied as the names who made Alton famous:

Robert Wadlow
Benjamin Godfrey
Abraham Lincoln
Elijah Lovejoy
James Earl Ray
Miles Davis
Phyllis Schlafly

To support, educate and enlighten, Alton has a family of historical organizations. These organizations each have a different function and expertise. For those in the Alton area who seek historical information, this is a brief overview of these organizations.

Alton Area Landmarks Association, Inc. (AALA)
P.O. Box 232
Alton, IL 62002

The AALA, founded in 1970, is dedicated to educating, promoting, and saving the architectural heritage in the Alton area. AALA sponsors the Fall Historic House Tour. The AALA also spearheaded the “Save City Hall” campaign.

Alton Historical Commission
Alton City Hall
101 East Third Street
Alton, IL 62002

The Alton Historical Commission was created by city ordinance in 1997 for the purpose of identifying, preserving, protecting, and enhancing buildings and structures having historical and architectural value to Alton. The Commission is composed of seven members appointed by the mayor, at least four of which shall reside in Alton’s three historical districts, Christian Hill, Middletown, or Upper Alton. The principal purpose of the Commission is to review all applications for alteration, demolition, or new construction within these three districts. The Commission meets the first and third Tuesday of each month in the city council chambers. The meetings are open to the public.

Alton Museum of History and Art
2809 College Avenue
Alton, IL 62002
Wednesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m
Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m
[email protected]

The Alton Museum of History and Art was incorporated in 1971 to both preserve and showcase artifacts of local history, and to exhibit artists’ work. The Museum, located in the historic Loomis Hall on the SIUE Dental School campus, has a Wadlow Room, a full-size riverboat pilothouse, a transportation exhibit, and a Pioneer Room. In addition to Loomis Hall, the Wadlow home, and the Koenig House, the Museum is renovating the Cole-Clark Carriage House as a children’s museum. The Museum is privately funded and relies on donations, admissions, and memberships.

The oldest of Alton historical organizations, the AAHS was founded in 1948 to promote the history of the greater Alton area. A second goal was to establish a Historical Research Library. The AAHS is now a committee with the Alton Museum of History and Art. For the last 15+ years, the Society has maintained the Alphabetical Alton Area Obituary File.

Committee on Black Pioneers

Starting after the Sesquicentennial of Alton in 1987, to gather and store information on the local African American history of the Alton area, the CBP was formed through the Alton Museum. Alton, as an important junction on the Underground Railroad, has national historical importance. The Committee has published two books: a cookbook and “Alton African American Leaders For the Last 100 Years”. Both books are on sale at the Museum gift shop. For more information about CBP, contact the Alton Museum of History and Art.

Hayner Public Library, Genealogy, and Local History Library
401 State Street
Alton, IL 62002
618-462-0677, option 3
[email protected]

For researchers, the Genealogy and Local History Library, at 401 State Street, has voluminous information about Alton, Madison County, and the surrounding area. Included in its collection are the Alton City Directories, which list businesses, home addresses, occupants, children, etc. Additionally, the Alton House History Repository is located here. The library also has genealogists on staff to help with research. They can be reached at Genealogy Services at 618-462-0677 option 3.

Madison County Historical Society Library/Museum
801 North Main Street
Edwardsville, IL 62025
[email protected]

Madison County Historical Society
PO Box 422
Edwardsville, IL 62025

The Madison County Historical Society was organized in 1916. In 1923 a room in the county courthouse was made available for use as a museum. In 1962 the Weir House, the second oldest brick house in Edwardsville, was purchased and restored as a county museum. A new library building has recently been completed next to the museum. The library has many historical sources such as maps, plats, cemetery indexes, census records, marriage records, and city directories.

Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial
P.O. Box 214
Alton, IL 62002

Elijah Lovejoy was an abolitionist newspaper publisher who was murdered by a pro-slavery mob on November 7, 1837, in downtown Alton. Founded in 1952, this non-profit organization’s purpose is “for the perpetuation of the memory of Elijah P. Lovejoy and the presentation of scholarships to deserving students”.

Alton Main Street
111 East 4th Street Suite 315
Alton IL 62002

The National Main Street Center was established as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980 to address the myriad issues facing historic downtowns. Working with a nationwide network, Main Street has helped over 2,000 communities across the country bring economic vitality back downtown, while celebrating their historic character, and bringing communities together. Since 1994, Alton Main Street has led volunteer efforts to transform Alton’s Downtown district into a thriving commercial and residential center. Educating citizens about the benefits of historic preservation through public engagement is central to Alton Main Street’s purpose. The organization fosters an appreciation of our community’s history by coordinating social, economic, and beautification activities. They can be reached at 618-463-1016.

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