‘Literary Ladies’ Honored by State Historical Society

A six-year research effort by a Jacksonville women’s group that became a more than 500-page behind-the-scenes look at Wednesday’s class women’s literary society has been named the winner of the Best of Illinois History award. Illinois State Historical Society.

“Literary Ladies: The First 130 Years of The Wednesday Class” began as an idea by Linda Ryan, Suzanne Verticchio and Cathy Green to create a pamphlet about the history of the 134-year-old Jacksonville Women’s Literary Society. The pamphlet-turned-book focuses on the members’ lives and what happened at different times. It includes photos, maps and favorite tea recipes. It provides insight into literary societies, members’ families and the community.

“‘Literary Ladies’ documents and celebrates one of Jacksonville’s unique historical characteristics: the existence of several men’s and women’s literary societies since the mid-19th century,” wrote Jacksonville’s Steve Hochstadt in a review.


The award was presented at the historical society‘s 123rd annual meeting at 11:30 a.m. today at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield. More than 35 nominees were recognized for their accomplishments and publications on Illinois history.

Illinois State Historical Society executive director William Furry said he thought this year’s group of nominees was particularly memorable.

“It’s been a great year for Illinois history, despite the pandemic. Although it has virtually shut down the state, COVID-19 has created opportunities for historians, historical societies, and museums across the country. “Illinois to create special projects that tell our prairie state stories. Now is the time to celebrate their accomplishments,” he said.

Ryan said the book showed a hidden world of local history.

“I don’t think there are any other publications out there that tell how a book club in Jacksonville like this operates, the history of the club, and especially the life of the woman,” she said. “For me, it’s extremely exciting.”

Green said it was an honor to receive the award.

“This honor gives value to our belief and our research that so many stories can shine through these literary societies,” she said.

The book is available at Our Town Books in Jacksonville.

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