We started a feature on our Twitter account a few weeks ago called #WhatIsItWednesday. Each Wednesday we’ll show you something from the University Archives—maybe an artifact, a document, a photograph—and let you guess what it is. Our goal is not only to excite and educate you on the items we have here at the Archives but to enlist your help in finding other historic Illinois State items to add to the collection.

One of the items we recently featured is relatively new to the University Archives, thanks to some eagle-eyed Illinois State history fans. The portrait of our first president, Charles Edward Hovey, was found two years ago in the attic of Ewing Manor by the facilities manager and her staff.

With some research, we realized how unique this portrait of Hovey really is: This is the youngest we’ve seen Hovey in any portrait to date. Most portraits of Hovey feature him wearing his Civil War uniform and are postwar. Our portrait shows a young Hovey, seated, wearing a dark suit and full beard. A top hat sits on a table in the bottom left of the portrait next to a document that some have speculated has the words “Illinois” and “Normal” written on it, but the condition of the painting make the writing impossible to read. Thanks to the folks at Ewing, we’ve been able to stabilize the portrait and store it safely here at Archives.

We’ll be featuring lots of fun collections and items in the coming weeks! If you have a suggestion of an item we should highlight, lets us know. We also want to see your Illinois State University artifacts and photos! Tweet us @ISUArchives with your #WhatIsItWednesday treasures and show us what kind of Illinois State history is out there!