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Friday, January 28, 2011

The NASA Connection


To mark the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy on January 28, 1986, I thought I'd reflect on the museum's NASA related collections.

You may wonder why a local history museum in Illinois would have NASA materials in its permanent collection. Well, there are at least two good reasons—James Lovell, and the Curt Teich Postcard Archives.


The former NASA astronaut, James "Jim" Lovell, Jr., (born March 25, 1928), moved to Lake Forest, Illinois after retiring.

Lovell is most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon, but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission control. In 1994, he published a book about the mission, "Lost Moon," and the film version followed with Tom Hanks as Commander Lovell. Over a decade ago, Lovell with his family opened up Lovells of Lake Forest, a fine dining restaurant.

In 2010, the Lake County Discovery Museum received information that NASA was deaccessioning items through US General Services Administration program. The NASA Space Program artifacts can be acquired by non-profit museums, universities, and schools.

With James Lovell's connection to Lake County in mind, the museum pursued the acquisition of any items pertaining to the Apollo missions.

The process involved lots of paperwork, but through much diligence the museum received a ballpoint pen that had gone into space on an Apollo mission.


Staff fondly refer to the NASA pen as the "moon pen." Though it never was on the moon, the pen orbited the Earth on one of the Apollo space missions. LCDM 2010.29


This color postcard was donated to the museum in 1975, probably a souvenir purchased by the donor (from Mundelein) while visiting the Kennedy Space Center. LCDM 75.16.37

The card's caption reads: "The original 7 Astronauts selected by N.A.S.A. From left to right: Navy Lt. Comm. Malcolm Scott Carpenter, Air Force Capt. Leroy Cooper Jr., Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn. Jr., Air Force Capt. Virgil Grissom, Navy Lt. Comm. Walter Schirra, Jr., Navy Lt. Comm. Alan Shephard, Jr., Air Force Major Donald Slayton."

The museum's other connection to NASA are postcards held in the collections of the Curt Teich Postcard Archives. The archive of the Teich Company of Chicago was donated to the museum in 1982, and among the hundreds of thousands of postcards are 106 related to NASA.


"The Flight of the First Saturn C-1 Space Vehicle." Curt Teich postcard, 1961 (1DK-1981)


"U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr." Curt Teich postcard, 1962 (2DK-1506)


"NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida, NASA's Saturn Undergoes Pre-Launch Check-out." Curt Teich postcard, 1964 (4DK-1641).

For more fun with postcards from the Teich Postcard Archives, check out the blog Life in a Postcard Mirror written by my colleague Debra Gust.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Love that hi-tech tether system on the pen :)