This collection contains 19th and 20th century historical material including publications, printed ephemera, correspondence, and research notes collected by James Russell. Much of the material concerns the Charleston (Illinois) riot of March 28, 1864.
James Russell was an avid collector of 19th-century letters and documents and had a special interest in the 1864 riot in Charleston, Illinois. He was interested “in history in the way people lived it.” The Charleston riot was a deadly soldier-civilian conflict between Union soldiers on leave in Charleston, Illinois, and anti-war Democrats that took place at the Coles County Courthouse Square on March 28, 1864.
The collection contains ephemera from the 19th and 20th centuries including material related to the Charleston riot of March 28, 1864. The collection includes a letter from Charles H. Coleman, of Eastern Illinois University, to James Russell, dated August 3, 1949, expressing gratitude for lending him historical material. Included in the collection are editorials from the Mattoon Daily Journal Gazette, Mattoon Morning Star, and the Shelbyville Democrat covering a variety of topics from the 20th century, including the Korean War, local criminal proceedings, and World War II. The collection also contains newspaper transcripts and research notes related to the Charleston riot of 1864. Included in the collection is a ledger covered with newspaper clippings, obituaries, and poems. The collection also contains published material including an assortment of almanacs, sales catalogs, clippings, and pamphlets from the late 19th and early 20th century, some of which were published in Mattoon, Arthur, and Elgin, Illinois.
The collection was donated to the Illinois Historical Survey, predecessor of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, by Helen Russell, the wife of James Russell, in 1987.