Every time I enter the Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC), I glance at a corner in the patron’s lounge. There it is, standing in the corner looking attractive and majestic. It is impossible to overlook. Maybe, it’s the colors, its size, the architectural beauty, or perhaps it is the story behind it. In any case, the model of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall stands there as a representation and reminder of American history; a connection to such famous speeches as President John F. Kennedy’s Independence Day address on July 4, 1962 at the famous hall in Philadelphia.

Seeing this replica each day got me thinking more about its real-life counterpart in Philadelphia. So, I decided to do some research using one of the library’s Research Databases. I started with Facts on File: American History Online and searched "Independence Hall." There, I learned that the actual building was constructed between 1732 and 1756 in a Georgian architectural style. It was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, uniting the thirteen colonies; and the ratification of the Constitution.

As I am originally from Slovakia, this majestic building also holds a special meaning with respect to European history. In October 1918 at the end of World War I, Thomas Garrique Masaryk called from the steps of Independence Hall for the independence of the Czechoslovaks and other nations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After debating with President Woodrow Wilson, Masaryk prioritized visiting several important locations in the U.S.; one of his stops was the iconic  Independence Hall. As a point of interest, Masaryk later became the first Czechoslovak president. His wife, First lady Charlotte Garrique, came from Brooklyn, New York and was a direct descendant of the Mayflower pilgrims.

There are many historic objects represented at the MGC, and all have their own purpose and story behind them. They remind us of the importance of history and its influences on the present.

If you have visited the real Independence Hall in Philadelphia and have your own special experience or connection to share, I would like to hear from you and learn from your stories. If not, come to the MGC and start your adventures on a somewhat smaller scale.

Iveta B.
Midwest Genealogy Center