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Ruth Rademacker as a student teacher in Helen Hoing's and Alberta Flynn's sixth grade class at the Lab School.
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Ruth Rademacker, center, with, from l-r, Director of WIU Archives and Special Collections Jeff Hancks, Libraries Dean Michael Lorenzen, and Margaret and Bill Scranton, leaders in the Brown County Historical Society.
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Keyes-Rademacker Archives Endowment Fund Established at WIU

February 7, 2017

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MACOMB, IL -- Etched on Washington, D.C.'s National Archives Museum is the Shakespeare quote, "What is past is prologue." Ruth Keyes Rademacker firmly agrees. That is why she wants to help Western Illinois University preserve and promote the history of west central Illinois. Rademacker has named WIU as the primary beneficiary of a life insurance policy to create the Keyes-Rademacker Archives Endowment Fund.

"Although growing up in a home with very limited funds, available reading material was always a priority. My parents, Velma and Marshall Keyes, were lovers of local history as well as being active in the Brown County Historical Society, with Velma being a charter member. With that background, I saw the need early on for preservation of the written word," shared Rademacker.

As many students were during the mid-point of the 1900s, Rademacker was an education major. She graduated from Western in 1960 with a degree in education and a minor in library science. While at Western, she worked in the library as a student worker, which she said prepared her for a diverse and fulfilling career.

"While minoring in library science, I became very interested in that work with instructors such as Lois Mills and Jeanne Osborn," she said. "Their enthusiasm helped in my decision to make libraries my life's work."

Her professional career began as librarian at the Braille and Sight Saving School in Jacksonville, IL. Her next position was head of the Volunteer Transcribing Section in the Division for the Blind at the Library of Congress, followed by working as a teacher and librarian in the Green Valley, IL school district. She later was an outreach librarian at the Alliance Library System and librarian for the Tazewell County Genealogical and Historical Society. In every position, she always saw a need for additional funds to ensure proper operation. That is why she wanted to establish the Keyes-Rademacker Archives Endowment Fund.

"While visiting the Archives in WIU's Malpass Library to work on family history, I was impressed with the quality of preservation being done by the staff in saving valuable materials for future generations," Rademacker explained. "As a proud WIU graduate, I decided to have the Fund established with emphasis being on the history of west central Illinois, where my roots are."

The fund will be used to acquire, preserve and promote materials documenting the history of west central Illinois, with a special emphasis on Brown County, where her parents were long-time residents. It will include sponsorship of guest lectures, publishing of research, creating exhibits and other supportive events.

"I share Ruth's love of the history of Western Illinois University and preserving the history of not only the University, but of the entire west central Illinois region will benefit multiple generations to come. We appreciate Ruth Rademacker's desire to preserve that history and we are thankful that she is providing the funds to help us do so," said Brad Bainter, vice president for advancement and public services.

University Libraries Dean Michael Lorenzen added that the history of Brown County is an important part of the regional history collection in the WIU Archives and Special Collections Unit.

"We are truly grateful for this generous gift. This fund will allow us to acquire, preserve, and promote materials documenting the history of west central Illinois, with a special emphasis on Brown County, Mrs. Rademacker's home place," Lorenzen added. "Her thoughtful act will allow us to even better develop, archive, and make accessible materials from Brown County and the west central region we serve."

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