June 01, 2009

Traveling exhibit to focus on Simon’s contributions

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The late Paul Simon dedicated his life to public service, and a new exhibit from the Special Collections Research Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library will soon celebrate the man and his legacy.

“Bowties and Horn-Rimmed Glasses: Senator Paul Simon and his Legacy,” will feature the center’s collection of Simon’s papers and more. Thanks to an $8,850 grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, the library is creating a traveling exhibit and series of companion lectures heading to sites throughout the state in the coming year.

“Our traveling exhibit will highlight some of the many contributions Sen. Paul Simon made to the state of Illinois and the country,” said Pamela S. Hackbart-Dean, director of the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). “We’ll be opening to the public for the first time our collection of Simon’s personal and political papers. The exhibit will provide a glimpse into Simon’s life, political career, campaigns and the legislative issues he worked with.”

The exhibit will focus on Simon’s work with his constituents, his writings, his political campaigns -- including his 1988 run for president and his ties to Barack Obama -- as well as his foreign relations and legislative issues work. Through photographs, artifacts, campaign memorabilia and assorted important papers, viewers will learn of his work on the balanced budget amendment, the direct student loan program, television violence and on behalf of missing and exploited children. Viewers also will learn about Simon as the “Cold War warrior” and of his visits to Africa and meetings with world leaders.

Plans also call for display of some Simon artifacts, including the typewriter he used to write stories as editor of a newspaper in Troy, his seat from the floor of the U.S. Senate and one of his famous bowties. The special programs accompanying the traveling exhibit will feature various speakers addressing Simon’s legacy, his impact on Illinois and the U.S., his journalistic background and influence, his legislative footprint and how he rose to national prominence.

It all kicks off in October at Morris Library. Future presentations include a November event in Chicago featuring Abner Mikva, former U.S. representative, law professor and federal judge, and a December presentation at the Troy Public Library by Charles Klotzer, founder of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Sheila Simon, daughter of the late senator and SIUC law professor, will speak during the January 2010 exhibit and lecture at the Benton Public Library.

Details of the traveling exhibit appearances and accompanying public presentations are coming soon via a future news release and on the Morris Library Web site at www.lib.siu.edu.

“Ultimately, this project will engage students, faculty and the community in discussing Simon’s legacy and will encourage use of his political and personal papers for research,” Hackbart-Dean said.