PEORIA — Methodist College was awarded a $33,946 grant from the Illinois State Library to digitize historical artifacts and documents.

The grant was part of $550,000 awarded to organizations throughout the state by Secretary of State Jesse White, who is also the State Librarian.

Methodist College has a large collection of artifacts dating back to 1900 when the School of Nursing at Methodist Hospital was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Deaconess, said Dr. Deborah Garrison, interim chancellor and president of Methodist College.

“Their vision was for healthcare and education to go hand in hand in Peoria,” she said. “We have so much memorabilia from those years. One of the items is 100 years old and very fragile.”

The collection contains newsletters, letters, brochures, diplomas, graduation programs, nursing materials, and about 5000 images - photos and slides - in the alumni collection.

“We have entire rooms filled with items,” said Garrison.

Local historian and preservationist Robert Killion has called the collection a “treasure resource” that will be an asset to historians and genealogists interested in the Peoria Area. Killion will be leading a team of librarians, students and staff to complete the digitization process, said Garrison.

Methodist College already has plans to share the collection with the public. Pieces from the archive will be in “Year of Invention” at the Peoria Riverfront Museum in 2019. The exhibit will focus on the Peoria area’s long history with medicine, and will feature inventions that changed the course of medicine.

“It’s going to be an amazing exhibit,” said Garrison. “It will feature medical inventions that changed the world, and we’ll be having lecture throughout the display period.”

The newly digitized items will also be used for alumni relations, as a way to trigger fond memories in past graduates. Ultimately the archive will be used to create a permanent history piece displayed at the college.


Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or Follow her on, and subscribe to her on