Aid to museums, libraries, and preservation organizations is at the core of the Illinois Heritage Association’s purpose. The IHA helps to preserve the cultural heritage of Illinois. Its mission is to stimulate an interest in this heritage and to provide technical assistance to organizations and individuals who work to preserve it. In the IHA’s view, cultural heritage encompasses historical records, decorative and fine arts, folk arts, material culture, and the built and natural environments. The IHA was established as a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status in 1981, when state support for cultural institutions was at a low ebb. The association’s founders believed there should be a history-related service organization independent of state government.
The IHA’s first project was a statewide survey of museums to determine needs for services. The resulting 1982 survey report guided the IHA in developing programs to meet these needs. While almost half of the IHA’s three hundred members are museums, the organization also serves historical societies, libraries, genealogical organizations, preservation groups, park districts, educational institutions, and individuals.
Support for IHA
Support for the IHA comes from grants, memberships, donations, and earned income projects that conform to the IHA’s mission. Sales of archival supplies and selected publications from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and from the American Association for State and Local History generate some income and introduce members to useful products that assist them in their work. The IHA purchases archival supplies in large quantities and repackages them in smaller amounts to meet the needs of smaller institutions. IHA members may buy supplies directly from Gaylord Brothers using an IHA discount. Two award-winning books written and published by the IHA—a county history and a book of postcards of local scenes—have served as income producers and as models for local organizations to follow in publishing books of their own.