Pull out your red sweaters and dust off your tailgating gear–Illinois State’s Homecoming is right around the corner!

To celebrate, the ISU Archives has installed a new exhibit on the first floor of Milner Library that showcases some great historic mascot ephemera and memorabilia. Visitors to the exhibit will also get to see the retired feathers of their favorite mascot on full display.

While many of the items on display focus on Reggie Redbird, several of the items date back to before Reggie’s time as ISU’s official mascot. A 1930s era pennant and several ‘N Club’ letterman patches give visitors a glimpse into the history of the university’s school spirit. Back in those days, the university was known as Illinois State Normal University–‘Normal’ being the term used to indicate the practice of teacher education. The letter N was heavily used as a symbol of school pride. Students took to calling themselves the “Pedagogs” or the “Fighting Teachers” at most competitive events and displayed the letter N proudly on sweaters, pennants, and jewelry.

It wasn’t until 1927 that Reggie’s ancestors made their nest on campus and became the new university mascot, the “Red Birds.” By the time Reggie was hatched in 1981, the “Red Birds” had become the “Redbirds.” Reggie’s name and image would forever be synonymous with Illinois State University.

Want to learn more about Reggie Redbird and his family history? Join us at Milner Plaza at 4:30 p.m. October 23, as we give you the “Backstory of the Bird” where Reggie will help us tell his story!

We’d also like to thank Joyce and Dick Baley for their generous donation of ISU memorabilia to the ISU Archives last month. We’ve included two items from their donation in the exhibit: a red Illinois State jacket and a pair of ‘Thumbs Up’ Reggie Redbird socks. Thanks again, Joyce and Dick!