Take home a piece of Joliet history or Route 66 memorabilia!
Our shop is stocked with distinctive items that are perfect for gift giving, decorating your home or office, and serving as a keepsake of your Museum visit.
Gus Reed, a freed slave, traveled north in 1864 settling in Springfield, Illinois. A city undergoing fundamental changes as its white residents struggled to understand the political, legal, and cultural consequences of Emancipation and Black citizenship. Reed became known as a petty thief and in 1877 he bulgarized the home of a well-known Springfield attorney. He was convicted and sentences the Illinois State Penitentiary, known today as the Old Joliet Prison. He would die in 1878 shackled to his cell and gagged. While two guards were established to be responsible for his death, they faced no penalty except dismissal. The investigation was closed, and Reed forgotten. Reed's story connects the political and legal cultures of white supremacy, black migration, and black communities, the Midwest's experience with Reconstruction, and the resurgence of nationwide opposition to African American civil rights in the late eighteen-hundreds; experiences which shaped a nation.
The Life and Death of Gus Reed: A Story of Race and Justice in Illinois during the Civil War and Reconstruction by Thomas Bahde.
The Joliet Area Historical Museum opened in 2002 with the goal to preserve and share Joliet's rich history. Over the years, this has grown to include the Route 66 Welcome Center and the Old Joliet Prison Historic Site. We strive daily to tell the stories that make this such a unique city!
You can find us at the Joliet Area Historical Museum and the Old Joliet Prison Historic Site.
Joliet Area Historical Museum
204 N Ottawa St, Joliet, IL 60432