When researching a family member, organization, or local history in general, the researcher may find information in unusual places or under controversial topics from a former era. Such is the case with this book. The original 52-page souvenir booklet, printed on a high-quality glossy paper can be found on our shelves bound within a thin gray protective hardback cover. The catalog title, “Souvenir, Elks’ Minstrel Entertainment,” comes from the inside title page. The booklet was printed for the Urbana Elks Lodge, No. 991, B.P.O.E., and distributed at a fundraiser show held at the Illinois Theatre on February 7th and 8th, 1910. However, the title page and a paragraph expressing thanks and appreciation for assistance in giving the entertainment are the only reference to the minstrel entertainment found in the booklet. What the book does contain is a wealth of Elk information, pictures, and local business advertising.

Front cover of the souvenir booklet for the Elks' Minstrel Entertainment show.
Cover of the souvenir booklet.
Title page of booklet stating, "souvenir elks' minstrel entertainment, Urbana Lodge No. 991 B.P.O.E. and the Elks Ladies Club."
Title page of the souvenir booklet.

The front cover of the original booklet says Souvenir B.P.O.E. 991, Urbana, ILL.  Between the symbolic Elk centered in the 11 o’clock hour on the front cover, to the “Hello Bill!” on the back cover are single page histories on the “Origin and Purposes of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks,” the Urbana Lodge, NO. 991, B. P. O. E., and the Elks Ladies Club. A list of members provides names, occupations, and places of residence for the 211 Urbana Lodge members. Most members are listed as being from Urbana, but 13 are listed from out of state and 18 from other places in Illinois. Samuel C. Fox, Col. Samuel T. Busey, and Marien E. Smith, with death dates in 1909, are listed as “Our Dead” on another page in the booklet.

Pictures abound and include fourteen pages of individual pictures with the names of one hundred forty-six members and four Past Exalted Rulers. The names of those pictured members can be searched on our catalog, Local history Online.

Page 18 of the booklet showing the Elks members.
Elks members pictured on p.18.

There is one page of pictures of children titled, “We Want to be Elks Some Day.” A loose sheet of paper contains a correction to two of the names listed on the children’s pages and reads, “Errata, By an unfortunate oversight in our haste, two pictures here are transposed: Raymond William Stoltey and Boyd Columbus Stephens, Jr. Those desiring may cut out the names below and paste under the proper picture. Boyd Columbus Stephens, Jr., Raymond William Stoltey.”

P. 48 from the booklet pictures children's photos and describes them as future Elks.
The "future Elks" on p.48.

The Elks’ Building also known as the Flat Iron building was built for the Urbana Elks in 1906 and they occupied the whole 4th floor of the building. Four full page interior pictures show the Billiard Room, the Banquet Hall, and two different views of the Parlor. The history of the Urbana Elks also includes a picture of the exterior of the building. This building no longer exists as it was destroyed by a fire in 1948.

Photograph of the Elks' billiard room.
The Elks' billiard room in the flat iron building.
The Elks' banquet hall in the flat iron building in Urbana.
The Elks' banquet hall in the flat iron building.
The Elks' parlor room in the flat iron building in Urbana.
The Elks' parlor room in the flat iron building.

There are twenty-four full page advertisements in the booklet. The majority of the ads are for Urbana businesses and provide street addresses or other location description.  Some of ads include pictures of the business or a picture of the owner and corporate ads may include the names of officers and directors.

Advertisement for the Somers Pressure Block Machine on p.43 of the booklet.
One of the many advertisement pages in the booklet.

While no program of acts or cast of performers was found in this booklet or with other copies that I have seen, it is possible that a loose flyer may have been inserted at the time of the show. The original booklet was hole punched and tied with a ribbon. It did not include page numbers.

If you are interested in a description of the acts or cast members, newspaper articles can be found by searching the Illinois Digital Newspaper project or Newspaper.com

An article printed in the Urbana-Courier Herald on February 1, 1910, page 1, contains a partial list of the acts to be performed and says that a flyer with a complete list of acts would be handed out free the night of the performance. 

Note: The Urbana Courier-Herald B.P.O.E. Edition, February 7, 1910 Evening Edition and February 8th, 1910 morning Edition are on Newspapers.com and also available on microfilm at the Archives. These additions contain some of the same information that was contained in the Souvenir booklet including pictures of the members which are on unnumbered pages 9 and 10. The digital version is of pretty good quality. The microfilm is not as clear and has dark spots around the edges.

-Karla Gerdes

Archives Assistant