C OL L E C T IONS T Ancient Roots of Tattoos

Winter 2011 Newsletter
Elgin Public Museum
Of Natural History & Anthropolog y
Learning Through Adventure
Ancient Roots of Tattoos
The mission of the Elgin Public
Museum is to enhance
understanding of the Natural
Sciences and Anthropology
through exhibits and interactive
EPM Hours
Labor Day to Memorial Day
Tuesday through Sunday 12 - 4 p.m.
Closed Mondays
Memorial Day to Labor Day
Saturday & Sunday 12 - 4 p.m.
by Sara Russell
he world’s oldest tattoo belongs to Ötzi, the Ice Man found in 1991 on
the Italian Austrian border of the Alps. Ötzi died about 5,200 years
ago, turning into a mummy due to freezing weather conditions. He has given
archaeology amazing insight to Neolithic life. On the mummy’s body there are
57 tattoos, patterns made up of dashes, dots and a cross found along the spine,
knee and ankle. Far from decorative – the tattoos would have been covered by
clothing – archaeologists theorize that the tattoos may have been therapeutic.
Used as a forerunner to acupuncture, the tattoos might have been applied to
alleviate joint pain caused by arthritis.
Special Hours for Touching on Traditions
For additional information or to
register in advance for an event or
program please call : 847-741-6655
Visit our website for more information
at www.elginpublicmuseum.org
Our Ne xt E xhibit
tat t o o :
February & March 2012
Modern Tribal Tattoo (detail)
Egyptian mummies also offer evidence of tattooing. The bodies of three
women were found with tattoos at Akhmim dating from 2000 BCE. Perhaps
colored by modern perceptions, the tattooed women were branded of “dubious
status” or my favorite euphemism, “dancing women.” Later funerary inscriptions revealed that at least one of these women was actually a high status priestess named Amunet. Like the Ice Man, it is now believed that the patterns of dots
were therapeutic, functioning as a protective amulet during pregnancy and birth.
Tattoos accomplished many different things all over the ancient world.
Scythians, Britons, and cultures of Peru and Chile reserved tattooing for high
status people. Sometimes tattoos represented the criminal element, such as
China’s Han Dynasty, where there were over 500 crimes punishable by ink.
It can also indicate belonging as for the Greeks and Romans and lineage as for
Maori. Tattoos can serve as a rite of passage. Upon reaching puberty, girls of
many southwest American Indian groups would tattoo lines on their chin.
They even offer protection in some cultures like the Vlachs of present day
Greece and Balkans. The women would traditionally tattoo crosses on their
forehead and forearm as a reaffirmation of their Orthodox Christian belief and
Continued on Page 3
From the Director - Margaret “Peggie” Stromberg
t doesn’t seem possible that another year has passed. It has been a successful
year for programming and bringing excellent speakers and learning experiences for our members and the community in general. Family science night
continues to be a really popular program, well attended and well received. For
the space program we had 134. Sara does a great job coming up with new
ideas each month.
Native American Cultural Day featured drummers and dancers from
Chicago’s Blackhawk Troop. Their colorful regalia and intricate dance steps
were a joy to see. We had a new tipi owner this year. Jon Jordan of Joliet
(Lakota Sioux) shared his lodge and his knowledge of Plains Indians. Regulars
Sal Redhawk with his wigwam and Ken Geier flintknapping rounded out the
outside activities. Joseph Standing Bear performed a Bison Blessing and Bill
Buchholtz played Native Flute.
We brought in several speakers and exhibits during 2011 and already have
several planned for 2012. Of course Touching on Traditions is currently up
and attracting visitors. Our facebook friends number 533 and our membership
is increasing.
As always our finances continue to suffer. The City of Elgin owns the
building and the collection, paying Elgin Public Museum, Inc. to operate the
museum. Over the past several years the funding has been more than cut in
half; U-46 has discontinued field trips; corporate sponsorship is down; and interest rates on investments has gone down, as most of you have noticed as well.
Luckily enough EPM had a reserve account and we have supplementing
our waning city commitment with funds we had put aside for new exhibits.
Without these funds, we would have had to close. As we wind down the year,
if you are planning any year end giving, I hope you will consider the Elgin
Public Museum. You can contribute online and by mail. Our future depends
on how many funds we can raise. We will continue to partner with other
groups to make our investment in the community even bigger.
Please visit the museum often. Members get a discount on programming
and in the museum store. We have some nice items in the store for holiday giving. If you can’t make it in when we are open to the public, call us and we will
open for you to shop, if we are here when you are.
Thank you all for your support over the past year and we look forward to
seeing you at YOUR museum often in 2012. When you come in, let us know
you are a member so we can thank you personally for your support.
EPM Staff
EPM Board Members
Margaret “Peggie” Stromberg
Martha Yochum
Michael McGrath
Gilbert Nore
Executive Director
Museum Coordinator
Dwight Armistead
Sara Russell
Mark Havemann
Marge Fox
Amanda Wolf
Ines Cintora
Museum Attendant
Clare Ollayos
Education Coordinator
Diane Ramsay Shedd
Don Quillman
Michael Curtin
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Museum Gold
A special THANKS to all those
who support our mission.
We couldn’t do it without you!
New and Renewed Membership
David & Sandra Kaptain (since 2010)
Mark & Lucy Elliott (since 1993)
Tony & Laurie-Faith Aiello (since 2009)
Jerry & Kathleen Turnquist (since 1986)
Scott & Laura Teipe (since 2005)
Stan & Mary Holat (NEW)
Michael Surerus (since 2010)
Terry Gabel & Sue Brigham (since 2009)
Amy Knorek (NEW)
Al & Janine Kirkland (since 1996)
Amy Bouque & Greg Hunt (since 2008)
Harry & Phyllis Blizzard (since 1992)
The Driver Family (NEW)
Wil Degorski (since 2010)
Ron & Mary Lou Conley (since 1991)
Karin & Gentry Jones (since 2010)
Tom & Karen Durkin (since 1995)
Bob & Karen Andrini (NEW)
Mary Schalow (NEW)
Ramona Jean Burns (NEW)
Bob & Debbie Sargent (since 1994)
Terri Scibetta (since 2006)
Sigi & Nick Psimenos (since 2009)
Chris & Janice Glintborg (since 2003)
Terry Gabel & Sue Brigham
Betty Meyer
Terri Scibetta
Wayne Heinmiller
The Elgin Public Museum is a public
institution whose purpose is to
enrich the lives of the people within
our community. Your membership
and donations are vital ingredients
in the success of our mission. Because
of your support and generosity we are
able to present programming either
free or at reasonable rates for all, in
the hopes all our citizens can greater
understand and appreciate the
complexity of the world around them.
Inside and Out the
Employee Museum
is Being Maintained
for Future Generations
ver since Rachel Camacho
headed back to school at the end
of summer we have had only Amanda
Wolf as a desk attendant. Finally
we’ve gotten Amanda a little help.
Starting this month, Ines Cintora will
be joining our ranks. Ines is currently
studying Business Administration at
Elgin Community College. She is
also an active volunteer at the Youth
Leadership Academy where she helps
guide young people to realize their
potential through continued education and good citizenship. So if you
see a new face behind the desk in the
store, stop by and say hello.
Many of our members have great
stories about the museum from the
past. Whenever you’re here and have
some time, we’d love to listen to them.
It’s your memories that translate into
talking points that our attendants,
and all of us, can use to make that 1st
time visitor to the Museum appreciate what a unique institution we have
right here in the Elgin Community.
And if you’re so inclined and
would like to write down an unforgettable memory about Lords Park, send
it to us and we’ll share it with the
rest of our membership. It’s an open
nce the Museum went from
summer hours to fall hours after
Labor Day the city installed new
lighting inside in the main and west
wing. It didn’t end there.
A couple of months later this 104 year old structure received a good once
over. A crew spent almost 2 weeks power washing the exterior and doing some
much needed tuck-pointing. Although the building is always well maintained
by the city, it now looks a little more polished. With the expenditure the City
of Elgin is making here, it’s quite evident that they realize the cultural significance of this institution. We here at the Museum are very appreciative and are
keeping our fingers crossed that they find a little more money for a fresh paint
job in a few of the rooms.
Ancient Roots Continued
as a powerful charm against the evil eye. On a practical level, the tattoos also
protected the women from the harems of the ruling Turks, who disliked the
“mutilated” women.
Polynesian cultures developed tattoos over a millennia with highly elaborate geometric designs that sometimes cover the entire body. British explorer
James Cook and his men saw these permanent designs for the first time on
their expedition to Tahiti in 1769. The Tahitian term tatatau or tattau, literally
“to hit” or “to strike” developed into our word tattoo. Receiving a tattoo was
not for the faint of heart. Cook’s naturalist, Joseph Banks, described the process used on a twelve year old girl. “It was done with a large instrument about
two inches long containing about 30 teeth. Every stroke . . . drew blood.”
Sailors brought the practice back to Europe. Tattooing did not, however,
catch on in the mainstream. Colonial powers and missionaries tried to suppress
the practice. People in Europe and the United States who sported tattoos were
seen as subversive. In the 1830’s James O’Connell was a castaway in the South
Pacific who received full body tattoos. There, the tattoos offered O’Connell legitimacy within the community and rendered him fully human. Upon returning to New York, he earned a living exposing his tattoos to the public. Women
and children literally ran away screaming. Ministers warned that pregnant
women who so much as looked at O’Connell would transfer the tattoos onto
their unborn children.
Even today, with a recent Pew poll finding that well over a third of people
under 40 have tattoos, we still feel a little uneasy in our perceptions of tattoos
and people who get them. Studies have found that people without tattoos receive better care in emergency rooms. Women with tattoos are more often seen
as dishonest and less intelligent according to research. On the other hand tattooing is also viewed as a beautiful art form that can express individuality and
identity. And perhaps that makes perfect sense that our opinions are mixed.
Tattooing has been used by humans for thousands of years for everything from
amulets to status symbols to declarations of love, for punishment, as outward
expressions of religious beliefs, and for adornment.
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Up Coming Events and Progr ams
Bison Feeding
Science Night Schedule
Our monthly hands-on science
Saturday, January 29th, 7 a.m.
experiences for the kids
You have no idea how big and impressive these creatures are until
Freaky Friday
you’re nose to nose with them. Join
us and assist the zookeeper in feeding Friday, January 13th, 6-8 p.m.
these animals.
It’s Friday the 13th, so let’s dive into the
freaky – freaky animals, freaky experi$2 per adult, $1 per child
ments and all around freaky science.
EPM members FREE
Different stations will be setup around
Reservations Required
the Museum for kids and their families
to experiment and experience demonEXHIBIT OPENING
strations in the wacky and weird.
An American Evolution
Saturday, February 4th, 1 p.m.
Come join us for the grand opening.
Learn about the ancient art of tattooing and its evolution into mainstream
American culture. This traveling exhibit comes to us from Northern Illinois University. It recently received
the Illinois Association of Museum
award of Excellence. The exhibit is cosponsored by Topnotch Tattoos.
Chocolate Fest
Saturday, February 12th, 10am - 4pm
Learn about chocolate’s connection
with the natural world while spending the afternoon – indoors and out
– enjoying chocolate treats that you
can make and share on Valentine’s
Day. Northwoods Dutch Oven Cooking Group will demonstrate chocolate
recipes using Dutch ovens. Elgin Public Museum will host “Before Hershey
Bars: A Cultural Look at Chocolate.”
Hawthorn Hill Nature Center will
host “A Chocolate Hike” at 2 PM.
Mammoths, Mastodons,
and More
Friday, February 10th, 6-8 p.m.
Imagine life for the animals of the ice
ages – how did they survive? Learn all
about ice age animals with your family at Family Science Night! Different
stations will be set up around the Museum for kids and adults to discover
and discuss Mammoths, Mastodons
and More!
??? - You Know It Will Be
Fun and Educational
Friday, March 8th, 6-8 p.m.
March is still a ways off and we haven’t
nailed down all the details for this
evenings activities but you can count
on another fun filled Family Science
Night. The set-up will be the same
with stations throughout the Museum to learn how the world around us
Cost $2 per person
EPM members FREE
Science Nights are Drop-in programs
so no registration is required
Chocolate Fest will be held at
Hawthorne Hill Nature Center.
Register through Elgin’s Parks & Recreation Department at 847-931-6123.
Learning Through Adventure.
F - Family Program
A - Adult Program
Continue to check our website
for the latest in
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In Our Own Backyard
Tri ck y Tra ck s
Saturday, February 18th,
10 - 11:30 a.m.
P.A.W.S. the pre-school program is
for children ages 3 to 5 years old and
their caregiver. Stories, games, songs,
and crafts; stimulate a child’s curiosity
about the natural world around them.
Fee $10 per child and caregiver.
EPM Members $8
Registration required 1 week in advance
Bison Feeding Schedule
Saturday, February 25th, 7 a.m.
You have no idea how big and impressive these creatures are until
you’re nose to nose with them. Join
us and assist the zookeeper in feeding
these animals.
$2 per adult, $1 per child
EPM members FREE
Reservations Required
In Our Own Backyard
Scampering Squirrels
Saturday, March 17th,
10 - 11:30 a.m.
This pre-school program is for children
ages 3 to 5 years old. Stories, games,
songs, and crafts stimulate a child’s
curiosity about the natural world
around them.
Fee $10 per child and caregiver.
EPM Members $8
Registration required 1 week in advance
Marge Fox on Safari
Saturday, March 24th, 10:30 a.m.
This special program is a Members Only
event. Through stories, pictures and souvenirs, Marge Fox will relate her experiences
in setting foot on her 7th continent. We’re
setting up some coffee with breakfast treats
to nibble on. Watch for a special invitation
as the day approaches.
Elgin Public Museum History 101
Chapter 2 “Tillie”
by Mike McGrath
n the Fall Newsletter article EPM 17th, 1981 by Nancy Epping. On
History 101, I pointed out a bear
the card is written that the mount
mount on top of a display case
came from the Lords Park Zoo. It was
in one of the pictures. That bear is
a 3 year old bear that died on April
named Tillie and today she is still
12, 1936. Up to this point there is
part of the Museum’s collection. Seeno reference anywhere that this bear
ing her in a picture, which dates back was named Tillie. The next piece of
over 40 years, got me wondering. Is
information I found in a folder was
there a story here? At the time I wrote hand written by Nancy Epping. It
my last article, I vaguely remembered said that the information stated was
running across an old newspaper
taken from the testimony and notes of
article about 2 bears named Jack and
Howard Gusler. Howard Gusler was
Tillie that escaped from the Lords
the curator of the Museum from 1963
Park Zoo. Was this escaped escapee
to 1975. According to the notes, our
our Tillie?
bear was known to the zookeepers as
After scouring
Tillie. It’s also written
Museum records, here
“Story says fell off of
is what I learned about
swing & broke her neck
Tillie. The registration
(unverified) Further, she
paperwork (information
was regularly bullied
that is recorded at the
by intended mate (This
time a donation is made)
mate was destroyed by
is very scarce. In the
City because of behavaccession log there is one
ior) H.G. ‘80”
entry in the year 1936,
Now that you have
a Black Bear Mount,
some recorded backand that is all. That one
ground information,
line of hand written data
here is a story I came
appears to be the only
across in a box of old
Museum documentation
newspaper clipping that
Accession Log containing
at the time Tillie came
relate to the Museum
entries dating back to 1904.
into our possession.
and Lords Park Zoo.
The next piece of information I found The headline that first caught my eye
was on an index card. It shows that
was Bear Hunt Calls Out City’s
our bear specimen was finally and
Police Reserves, But “Jack” And
officially registered on December
“Tillie” Are Back on Zoo Cage.
Some prankster… "jimmied the lock
on the bear cage at Lord’s Park and
opened the door wide so that Jack and
Tillie, the only occupants, had only
to walk out to reach freedom." The
zoo’s custodian discovered the empty
pen around 11:30 in the evening and
called police. A posse of zoo employees, police and volunteers, with
Data card at time of accession in 1981. flashlights in hand started combing
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Tillie is in storage on the lower level.
The Black Bear on display came to the
Museum from the Arlington Heights
Historical Museum back in 1992.
the area. Tillie was found first, along
Willow Creek right here in the park
and was easily persuaded to return
to the safety and security of her cage.
Jack on the other hand was a little
more troublesome. He was finally
spotted near the tennis courts (I’m
not sure if they are in the same location today as in the past) “Marshall
Huber ordered his men to try and
capture the bear alive but in case Jack
became angry and showed evidence of
fight, that they should not endanger
their own lives, but shoot the animal.”
That turned out not to be necessary as
the officers used bright search lights
to blind the bear and prod him back
to his cage using sticks. By 2 a.m. the
job was complete.
This would be an interesting story
about our Tillie, except for one glaring problem. The article I just quoted
has a hand written date on it of Wed.
June 8, 1938. If this date is accurate,
according to the Museum records, the
bear we call Tillie had already been
dead for over 2 years. What I think
might be going on here is that when
EPM’s Tillie died, she was so beloved
by the citizens of Elgin, that when a
new female was brought in to replace
Continued on page 6
The Evolution of
by Peggie Stromberg
Educator Sara Russell explaining the English tradition of “crackers”
to a class of students on a holiday field trip.
n 1986 Elgin Public Museum board member Jane Roll conceived the idea of
doing an exhibit which would show the holiday customs of as many cultures
as possible. The only criteria were to be living in or around Elgin and have a
family history of another place. Those of you who know and remember Jane will
understand how she made it happen that same year.
Jane’s idea was to acquaint the community with the immigrants who had
settled in Elgin, bringing their cultures with them. She rounded up families
willing to help and the first exhibit opened with about 10 displays in the lobby of
Hemmens Auditorium. The families came, decorated their table or tree, brought
a national dish to pass and the tradition started. After enjoying the international
feast everyone gathered together to decorate the United States tree. Jane was a
teacher at Elgin High School and the word quickly spread about the special exhibit the museum was doing. Soon teachers were signing up their classes to see
the displays and hear about the customs of others.
More families became involved and eventually the Hemmens lobby could no
longer hold the displays, and the whole thing moved to the Lords Park Pavilion
where it remained until two years ago when it moved up the hill to the museum
building. The pavilion could be separated into three rooms for programming
and school groups came in from as far away as Joliet, Buffalo Grove, Arlington
Heights and other towns as well as U-46 and close by districts.
Some families stayed with us and others moved and yet more came on. One
family from Guatemala has been involved since the beginning. Some of the stories have been sad and others have been happy, but all of the families were glad
to have made Elgin their home. It is always a thrill for us to see the children’s
faces light up when they see that we have a tree or table from a country close
to their own heart. The school groups are no longer coming in huge numbers
because U-46 and others have nearly cut out field trips due to transportation
costs. Many of the displays no longer have families, but students from the Elgin
High School gifted academy are helping decorate. So it constantly evolves and
changes, but the thing that stays the same is the joy we get from seeing how
people react to seeing the displays and learning about other cultures.
O p en for viewing ever yday through De cember 31st .
Page 6
HISTORY 101 Continued
this bear, the zoo gave her the same
name. So the Tillie that we possess is
not an escaped convict.
Going through these old newspaper articles, I uncovered more hard
to believe tales about the Lords Park
bears. Here’s one from the early
1900s. Davey Walker was a park
custodian and “…the show Davey
liked best to put on for the crowd was
to lock up all but his old trusty bear
and then persuade some boy or girl
to ride that trusty bear’s back around
the bear pit.” Hard to believe, isn’t it?
OK, just one more. It has to do with
pranksters in the zoo. This one dates
from Sept. 1960. Headline: Pranksters Free Monkeys; One Attacks
Woman, Dog. According to the article the attack happened right outside
the Museum. I wonder if that person
was any relationship to the prankster
22 years earlier.
I’m going to wind up this article
with one more bit of information I’ve
heard here at the Museum. I’m not
saying if it’s true or not. It’s about
how our Tillie met her death. “Tillie
fell off that swing and broke her neck
as she was stretching for a marshmallow that a visitor had thrown just out
of her reach.” And what do we learn
from this tragedy?
Our beloved Tillie,
may she Rest in Peace
Marge Fox on Safari
A Special Invitation
to EPM Members
and Donors
here are seven continents on our
planet. Marge Fox has FINALLY
visited all of them. Last year she set
foot on the Dark Continent and is
anxious to share with us that adventure. On March 24th we’re having an
old fashioned travelogue here at the
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s
there was no internet, no cable television, and many households on the
Hippos take a break from eating in the ponds for a little land foraging.
expanding frontier did not even have
radio. Entertainment was often local and home grown. Yet people still enjoyed tales about exotic places. Anthropology
was an emerging scientific discipline at this time that exposed “ordinary people” to the cultural diversity of the world
they live in. Traveling lecturers ventured out among these communities and delighted the citizens with illustrated talks
of faraway places and the experiences encountered. For the prairie populace it was an escape from the grind of their
daily lives, much like movies are for many today.
We are going to store the projection lantern and replace it with a Powerpoint show. There will be central heating in
the building so you won’t have to bring
extra blankets. Hot coffee and hot
chocolate will be ready to warm the innards. Miscellaneous breakfast treats
will be spread out for your enjoyment.
And these are only enticements for the
actual program highlight.
If you think you might not make
it to Africa in your lifetime, (I know
I won’t) but are still fascinated by this
corner of the world, join us for a first
person account of this incredible continent through stories, pictures, and
artifacts. It’s something special we’re
offering to our treasured members and
donors. Like I said, it’s going to be
the morning of Saturday, March 24th.
Is Marge getting a hug from this young elephant?
Keep an eye out for more information
Or does he just want the peanuts in Marge’s hand that he’s been working for.
as that date approaches.
Don’t forget Marge will be conducting her first P.A.W.S
program of the year “Tricky Tracks” for pre-schoolers
and caregivers on Saturday, February 18th.
C ALL US FO R MO R E I N FO R M ATIO N AT 8 47-741- 6 655
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