Our Collection

The Schingoethe Center is best known for its Native American collection, which spans prehistory to the present. All indigenous culture areas of North America are represented in the collection with examples from Central and South America as well. The museum also holds a collection of non-Native American art, much of it from regional artists. Currently, we have around 4,000 objects in our collection.

Rare Book Collection

North American Indians by George Catlin

Digitized books from the Schingoethe Center Rare Book Collection

Our rare books were digitized in collaboration with Northern Illinois University. To view the digitized versions, please follow the link above.

The Schingoethe Center holds in its collections original historical books no longer in print. Written by white explorers, military personnel, and settlers, these materials describe their impressions of, and encounters with, Native Americans in the nineteenth century. As the vast majority of American Indians left behind no materials written in the English language, white writers' reports and publications, however expurgated and influenced by prevailing notions of race and culture, form a large part of the available primary resource materials pertaining to this subject and period.

These books are available to students and scholars for perusal and research. However, because of their delicate nature, access is limited. To view these books, please contact us ahead of time. You can call us at (630) 844-7843 or e-mail us at museum@aurora.edu.

The Montgomery Gift and Archive

Scrapbook

Digitalized selections from the Montgomery Archives

The Schingoethe Center is honored to have been gifted 26 works of art from Lombard resident Evelyn Montgomery.  The Montgomery Gift comprises many prized works from the Great Plains, such as an Eagle Feather Bonnet (c. 1930s), vintage Pendleton Blanket (c. 1940s), intricately beaded materials and unique folk art pieces.  The gift also includes vital documents of correspondence, reports, surveys, photographs and two scrapbooks produced by Lakota students during the 1930s.  Contained in the scrapbooks are charming reflections and imaginative illustrations based on their school experiences. This collection of artifacts and documents originated from Evelyn's childhood.  Her father, Roland F. Thompson, was a teacher/administrator for various American Indian boarding schools. Consequently, in 1929, Evelyn's family moved from Massachusetts to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where she attended school and spent her childhood years.

The archived material from the Montgomery Gift features official United States Department of the Interior - Office of Indian Affairs (DOI/OIA) documents.  Included are written correspondence between Roland F. Thompson and the DOI/OIA administration, conveying interaction and activity amongst American Indian students and families from the early 1930s through the late 1940s.

The Montgomery Gift was made in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Roland and Elsena Thompson.

Circulation Policy

  • The museum's books circulate to Aurora University faculty, students, and staff only.
  • The reference library/artifact viewing room is open when the museum is open (by appointment).

The Schingoethe Collection within Phillips Library

Part of our book collection is located at Aurora University's Phillips Library. These books are available for viewing during regular library hours. See the Phillips Library page for more information on their hours and circulation policy.

Interested in making a donation?

Today, the Schingoethe Center depends almost entirely on the generosity of donors to grow its collections. 

As a donor, you may be able to take a tax deduction for all or a portion of the fair market value of your gift.  [NOTE: The museum does not provide appraisals for any items. However, the museum will provide information on how to find an appropriate appraiser.]

We accept Native American artifacts as well as artwork by Native and non-Native artists alike. By donating to the museum you:

  • Support the preservation of Native American cultures
  • Sustain our educational mission
  • Help the museum relay history through the artifacts in our exhibits
  • Ensure that the items will be cared for to benefit present and future generations

If you have a work of art or an artifact that belongs on display (instead of in an attic!) and are interested in making a donation to the museum, please contact:


Meg Bero, Executive Director
(630) 844-7844

Past Donations


Montgomery Headdress Sanchez Volcano

In 2008, Evelyn Montgomery donated a headdress from her childhood on the Rosebud Reservation.

The Emilio Sanchez Foundation donated this untitled work of art in 2012.