Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Irene Black

Bridgeport Leader April 2, 1970 Personal Library Here Represent Significant Historical Collection

‘"Newspapers are genealogies of history and the people who have made history. These papers are a history of Lawrence County,” said Mrs. J. W. Black about her extensive personal collection of Lawrence County newspapers.

Given to her for safekeeping by Mrs. Ruth French of Lawrenceville, formerly of Bridgeport, the newspapers include most issues from the late 1920s through 50s, including copies of the Bridgeport Leader, Sumner Press, Daily Record and Sun Commercial. Noted historian, Byron Lewis of Bridgeport and brother of Mrs. French, also assisted in beginning the significant personal library of newspapers.

Around the display tables of newspapers in Mrs. Black’s basement library are shelves brimming with works that amplify her devotion to the threefold purpose of DAR – historical, educational and patriotic. Named Honorary Regent of the Lawrence County Toussaint Dubois chapter of DAR last year, Mrs. Black has served four years as regent and is now state chairman of the DAR National Defense Committee. “I doubt any other organization is more informed on communism,” she stated as she began to review her collection of publications and books.

“When World War II was over, everybody set back in their complacency and didn’t seem to be concerned about anything, while Russia was building their forces,” Mrs. Black commented on the apparent lagging postwar interest in crusading against communism. In her library are congressional reports such as a Guide to Subversive Organizations and Organizations of the American Communist Party.  Also are copies of legislation passed by Congress and foreign policy briefs prepared by the government’s printing office.  

In addition to scholarships, historic building, and projects to support good citizenship, the DAR also marks the graves of Revolutionary war soldiers. One expansive project which Mrs. Black has been developing for years is a compilation of pertinent burial records for Lawrence.  The effort has meant countless hours of research in clerks’ offices, libraries and personal collections.

Mrs. Black is now attempting to obtain special binders for the hundreds of newspapers that she has catalogued in her basement library. Among the oldest copies found in the collection is a September 13, 1923 issue of the Bridgeport Leader. The headline proclaims ‘Greatest Fair in County History.’ The paper was then published by L. M. Wood and Sons. Other remnants of Mrs. Black’s newspaper collection are copies of Bridgeport High School’s, The Portonian, a biweekly school paper.


Mrs. Black is also active in church and other civic organizations. She is a member of the Christian Church in Bridgeport and has served as secretary of the Bridgeport Women’s Club. She is Oracle of the Royal Neighbors, Noble Grand of the Rebecca’s and district chaplain of that organization, member of Bridgeport Garden Club, former member of the PTA, has served on the organizing board of Home Bureau, President of Illinois Health Association, Eagles’ organization of government, and has served as a delegate to the National Convention of the Republican Women’s Federated Club. Other affiliations include Illinois Historical Society, Illinois Genealogy Society, and the Lawrence County Historical Society.
Irene Black April 1970
Thanks to Flossie Price for the above article.