Portrait of Jacob Haish to be dedicated at Founders Library

NIU will host a reception to dedicate the Jacob Haish portrait on Oct. 9 from 5 p.m.–6 p.m. in the new Founders Gallery located in Founders Memorial Library, 217 Normal Rd. in DeKalb. President Lisa Freeman will make opening remarks and local historian, Steve Bigolin, will speak about Haish and the history of DeKalb’s founding fathers.

“Haish holds a special place in the history of NIU Libraries as our first donor,” T.J. Lusher, associate dean for Library Facilities, Finance and Technology, said.

Portrait of Jacob Haish

The Haish portrait is a life-size photograph that has been hand-painted, a popular technique used during the latter half of the 19th century. While a common technique, Lusher said, this image is a rare representation of this type of photography mainly due to its large size.

The portrait originally hung in Haish’s DeKalb mansion before the home was razed in 1961. It is on permanent loan from the DeKalb Masons, who have been in possession of the portrait since that time.

Along with Joseph Glidden, Isaac Ellwood and Clinton Rosette, Haish successfully campaigned to bring a normal college for the preparation of teachers to DeKalb. While Glidden and Ellwood provided land and financial support, it was Haish’s donation of $10,000 that established the school’s first academic library.

“As I reflect on our founders, I am struck by how much of their essence infuses NIU today,” Lusher said. “There was a first generation American, two inventors and all four had an entrepreneurial spirit and were active in the community. NIU truly reflects these characteristics in its faculty, staff, student population and curriculum.”

The Haish portrait joins images of Isaac Ellwood and Joseph Glidden, two other founders of Northern Illinois Normal State School, now known as Northern Illinois University. Friends of NIU Libraries are currently accepting donations to repair the Haish portrait, which has the most significant damage of the three portraits and needs immediate attention.

For more information, visit Founders Memorial Library.

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