We are open every Saturday from
10am to 2pm or by appointment.

Phone: (618) 222-9430

Labor & Industry Museum
123 North Church St.
Belleville, Illinois 62220

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What's Happening

New Exhibit – Belleville Commercial College
by Judy Belleville

In 1893, high school was not a requirement. But to fill a need, Professor Joseph Foeller of St. Louis, MO opened the Belleville Commercial College on E. Main St. in Belleville. Although named a college, one could attend immediately out of grade school if desired. The college offered a business curriculum including bookkeeping, accounting, practical English, business arithmetic, typing and shorthand. Below is a sample of the “speed writing”, or Gregg Shorthand, a student could take and many did. Dictating devices were yet to be invented. The school offered courses year round and were from 2 weeks to a semester in length. The school also offered an employment service that included Belleville, the Belleville area and St. Louis, MO. The school, located on the second and third floor of the Belleville Savings Bank at 18 East Main St., closed in 1951.

Angela Briedenbach and Roy Foeller, descendents of the founder, contributed equipment, photos and archives to the permanent collection of the Labor & Industry Museum.

Gregg Shorthand, first published in 1888, is speedwriting using symbols. Pictured is correspondence using shorthand symbols for words and brief forms. A brief form is a symbol for two words such as the first two words shown, “it is”.


New Annex Doubles Size Of The Labor & Industry Museum

The Labor & Industry Museum has begun an exciting time of expansion and growth. The Harrison Jumbo, the famous 1895 steam engine built in Belleville and acquired from the Henry Ford Museum, will finally have its own permanent display space. The building currently under construction is being built directly behind the museum at 123 N. Church St and will double the size of the museum. Additional displays will be developed utilizing the objects, photos and archives which have been collected since the museum opened in 2002.

In order to complete this expansion and provide additional programming, the museum is initiating a campaign to raise money to complete the interior. Our building campaign needs your donation!

All donors will have their name included in a dedication program and donors of $50 or greater will also receive a one-year museum membership and a subscription to our quarterly newsletter. Donors at the $250 level or higher will also have their name inscribed on a commemorative plaque which will be permanently installed in the museum. Also, recognition will be given at our dedication and grand opening ceremony. We are hoping for early 2013 so everything will be in place by Belleville's 200th birthday in 2014.

Please make all checks payable to the Labor & Industry Museum, PO Box 8242, Belleville, IL 62222


Dedication of the Blacksmith Shop on May 23rd & 24th, 2009

As we promised in our last newsletter, the dates and times for the dedication of the Oldendorph blacksmith shop would be forthcoming, and true to our word, here is the information.

The event will be held from noon until 4pm on both May 23rd and 24th. There will be soda, chips and hot dogs, with the proceeds going towards a badly needed annex for the museum.

Come join us in an effort to bring back a time and craft that was so important to the building of this nation. If you have any stories, pictures or personal recollections of "blacksmithing", bring them along, because we would like to hear and see them. Bring the kids and let them experience a time gone by, but not forgotten.

Corky Helms wrote the historical summary below, so you understand how the shop has found its way to our museum.

A blacksmith shop that was established in Millstadt, IL in 1856 by Peter Oldendorph has come to the Belleville Labor & Industry Museum. It was operated for 69 years and was shut down in 1926. It was given to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in 1933 and was moved brick by brick and set up as a working blacksmith shop in the museum. In later years it became a static display and finally, when they were doing renovations, the shop was put into storage. The Belleville Labor & Industry Museum, located at 123 N. Church Street, acquired it, and the shop is now housed in its own building. The forge has a huge bellows to fire the forge. It has been completely reassembled and is now a working blacksmith shop.

Corky reminds all blacksmiths that he would like to see them and their families at the event.

From all of us at the museum -- Hope to see you there!


This shows the Oldendorph Blacksmith Shop exhibit presented by the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry ca 1940.

Peter Oldendorph is shown in his Millstadt Blacksmith Shop

Jumbo Steam Engine Is Featured In 2005 Calendar

Harold Wright

Labor and Industry Museum's 1895 Harrison JUMBO Steam Traction Engine, is featured in the Vintage Farm Tractors 2005 calendar by Ralph W. Sanders. This calendar will be sold nationwide. The Museum will be selling the calendar for $12.00. The month of October 2005 has an 11 1/2 X 12-inch color photo of the Harrison Steam Engine. All tractor fans that admire the timeless beauty of vintage farm tractors will treasure this popular calendar, filled with striking photos of classic farm tractors. Detailed shots of tractor apparatuses are included with each month's major photos. The history of JUMBO is shown with the October picture and also the Editor Ralph W. Sanders specifically mentions JUMBO in his introduction. Mike Hutsch and the Jumbo Keepers are to be complimented on a JOB WELL DONE! Calendars will be available for sale at all of the Museum functions, at the Labor and Industry Museum every Saturday between 10 am and 4 pm, and at all of JUMBO'S appearances. This calendar is a great educator, gift and keepsake.


St. Louis National Stockyards Exhibit


Our new exhibit about the St. Louis National Stockyards, formerly located at National City, Illinois across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO, will open on May 1, 2004.

Of special interest is a 5' x 7' overview of the yards. The 650 acre terminal livestock facility was directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO. Thirty-one railroads converged at National City, IL., which was a true company town with business centering around the yards. The stockyard companies provided postal service, telegraph service, police and fire protection. Also in the exhibit are the original handwritten minutes of the exchange, artifacts from the prestigious Allerton House (later called the National Hotel), a 6' long hog house gate, archival materials from commission houses and co-ops, photos of the yards, and a 10 minute video which includes footage from the devastating fire of 1986, information on "Mr. Stockyards" an award program of the Stockyards Company, and information about social activities at the yards. The video opens which wonderful shots of prize cattle, hogs and sheep.

The St. Louis National Stockyards and packing houses employed over 14,000 people not including employees of secondary businesses around the yards such as grain, feed and fertilizer merchants, lumber dealers, veterinarians and hog serum companies and railroad employees. Today nothing is left of National City. The Yards, which were established in 1873, closed in 1997. All records are now held in storage at the Oklahoma City Stockyards.

At one time, the St. Louis National Stockyards had the largest horse and mule market in the world -- and placed second in the marketing of hogs. This is a unique exhibit in that all materials were gathered from former employees of the yards.


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Historical information for this web site has been pulled from public records and archives available at the Belleville Public Library Reference Department.

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