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Sponsored by the Library Atrium Society of Western Illinois University, the day-trip to Bishop Hill is slated for Saturday, May 17. Download the brochure and registration form (PDF) at
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Library Atrium Society Bus Trip to Bishop Hill, IL, May 17

April 7, 2014

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Editor's Note: As of May 5, 2014, this event has been cancelled. For more information, contact the Western Illinois University Libraries' administration office at (309) 298-2762.

MACOMB, IL – Explore a "utopia on the prairie" through a tour of Bishop Hill, Saturday, May 17. Sponsored by the Library Atrium Society of Western Illinois University, the day-trip to the central Illinois community—founded in 1846 as a utopian communal society by Swedish immigrants—will be hosted by Dean of University Libraries Michael Lorenzen. The bus will depart from the parking lot west of the Leslie F. Malpass Library at 8 a.m. and return to Macomb at approximately 6 p.m. (The trip itinerary and registration costs are listed below.) The trip is open to the public.

In addition to a museum tour and walking tour of the historic community, at noon, Jeff Hancks—director of the WIU Archives and an expert in Midwestern utopian societies—will share the story of how the community was founded by Janssonists in his talk, "A Swedish Utopia on the Prairie: Erik Jansson and the Bishop Hill Colony."

"In 1846, Erik Jansson, a self-proclaimed prophet from Biskopskulla, a small village in east-central Sweden, led a group of more than 1,000 devoted followers to Henry County to start the utopian communal society with Jansson as its spiritual and political leader," Hancks explained. "Jansson named the community 'Bishop Hill,' the English translation of his Swedish home village. Life was initially difficult in Bishop Hill, but within a few years, Jansson and his followers found relative economic and religious prosperity. The community came crashing down, however, after the tragic death of its leader in 1850."

Hancks also noted today, Bishop Hill remains one of the best preserved utopian communities in the U.S., and tourists from all over the world visit the community to learn about it history and early life on the rugged Illinois prairie.

The trip itinerary is listed below. Cost to attend, with bus transportation, is $40 per person. Cost to attend (with travel to Bishop Hill on your own) and participate in the Library Atrium Society's events (includes tour, quilt show admission and Hancks' presentation) is $10 per person. Deadline to register is Wednesday, April 30.

Checks should be made payable to Library Atrium Society and can be mailed to:

Western Illinois University Libraries
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390

For more information about the trip, contact the University Libraries' administration office at (309) 298-2762. More information about Bishop Hill is also available at

About the Library Atrium Society
The Library Atrium Society was created to support the Western Illinois University Libraries' collections and services through established funds and endowments. The dollars generated through membership support University Libraries' efforts to expand educational resources for students, faculty and the general public. Learn more at

Bishop Hill Trip Itinerary, Saturday, May 17

  • 8 a.m. – Bus leaves Macomb (parking lot west of the Malpass Library)
  • 10 a.m. – Scheduled to arrive in State Historic Site Bishop Hill; Bishop Hill Museum Tour
  • 10:30 a.m. – Walking tour of village and historic buildings, including four original buildings, the colony church (1848); colony hotel (1850s); boys dormitory (1850); and colony barn (1850s)
  • 11:30 a.m. – Lunch on your own (space has been reserved at the Bishop Hill Museum)
  • Noon – "A Swedish Utopia on the Prairie: Erik Jansson and the Bishop Hill Colony," by Jeff Hancks, director of the WIU Archives, expert in Midwestern utopian societies (bring your lunch if you like)
  • 1-4 p.m. – Quilt Show: "Jars, Jewels and Jellyrolls" and/or sightseeing/shopping on your own

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