Women’s Work Wednesday: Barbara Jeffery Natzke

As we often say around the Historical Society, we owe our existence to the work of Leone Schmidt and the Natzkes!

Barbara Natzke and her husband, Peter, produced and published the Warrenville Digest for over 30 years, at the time providing a robust news source of the happenings of town, and to us historians, providing a detailed history of the more recent past. The Digests get frequent use around the Museum when preparing for programs, exhibits and when helping researchers.

A 1988 front page from the popular Warrenville Digest.

During this last week of Women’s History Month, we honor all the hard work Barbara put into not only the Warrenville Digest, but also the Warrenville community through her work with the Library and the Historical Society. Please enjoy reading a little more about Barbara as told through a 1996 column by our late City Historian Leone Schmidt:

There was a lot more to the editor of the Warrenville Digest, Barbara Natzke, than met the eye.

As she rode her bike dispatching her errands, her headset was usually tuned in to her favorite symphonic recordings. She gardened and took care of her home and family. An embroidered map of the city, a product of her design and needlework skill, hangs in City Hall.

Before co-founding the Digest with her husband Peter in 1964, Natzke’s byline appeared regularly on the pages of its predecessor, the Warrenville News, and eventually, she succeed Joyce Nilles as its Bulletin Board columnist.

Warrenville’s very own telephone directory was pioneered by Natzke in 1961. Convinced of a genuine need, even though informed by Illinois Bell that the listings in its directory could not be used in preparing a Warrenville book, she laboriously started from scratch, calling each resident. The annual directory thereafter, through 1988, was the result of her foresightedness and tenacity.

Holding a master’s degree in library science, Natzke was an avid reader and felt a special devotion to the library. She served on its board as secretary continuously from July 1979 until her retirement last November because of her ill health.

Barbara Natzke working with the Historical Society’s Historic Sites Committee placing a plaque on a historic 4th Street home. Bob Chase is securing the plaque, while Barbara (far left) and other members make the presentation.

Her interest and contributions to Warrenville’s heritage were significant, starting with the publishing of the booklet, “The Living Past of Warrenville,” which was based on extensive interviews with local historian John Player. She recorded the organizational minutes of the Warrenville Historical Society in 1980, become a life member and was active on the Historic Sites Committee. Until last year she faithfully took her turn staffing the desk at the Warrenville Museum on Sundays.

Barbara Natzke went about unpretentiously “making a difference,” and Warrenville will long reap what she sowed.

February Artifact of the Month

Happy Valentine’s Day


In honor of Valentine’s Day, please enjoy this 1920s card from when it cost just 1¢ to send your sweetheart a message.

Valentine’s Day cards began gaining popularity in England at the end of the 18th century and the embossed paper lace greetings were in the United States within 50 years. Cards were the main item exchanged before the mid-20th century when gifts started being given.


Artifact of the Month: Joseph B. Munk Photograph

Joseph Munk

Joseph Munk

Joseph B. Munk was born on May 24, 1840.  At the age of 21, he joined the 15th Cavalry Company H on September 23, 1861.  Sadly, Joseph was one of 17 Warrenville men killed in the Civil War.  He is buried in the Warrenville Cemetery.

Join the Historical Society at the Warrenville Library this Sunday, January 27th at 2:00 p.m. for “1863 in 48 Minutes” to learn more about the brave men who left our community to fight in the Civil War.  Please see our post on the program here https://warrenvillehistorical.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/1863-in-48-minutes/ to learn more.

Tonight: 1862 in 48 Minutes

As our nation continues to honor the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, which began on April 12, 1861 and ended on April 9, 1865, the Warrenville Historical Society is continuing its four year program, “Warrenville & the American Civil War.”  This series of programs and exhibits centers on Warrenville in the greater context of the United States’ struggle to maintain a unified union.

Ashley Carpenter

At the time the fighting broke out, Warrenville and DuPage County had been a center for the Abolitionist Movement for over a decade, and the strong sense of the injustices of slavery spurred 50 volunteers from Warrenville to fight for the cause over the four year war.  By the beginning of 1862, 13 men had left for Warrenville to fight in the war.  During the course of 1862, 25 more brave men would volunteer to fight for the Union.  Tragically, 1862 would also see Warrenville’s first war casualty, Ashley Carpenter, Colonel Warren’s nephew.

On Monday, January 23, 2012, at 7:00pm, the Historical Society will host “1862 in 48 Minutes,” a program detailing the year month by month, highlighting local and national events.   Aided by a presentation of images, presenters will detail life in Warrenville and the events our country was facing with the Civil War.  The program will be held at the Warrenville Public Library.  No admission fee will be charged and light refreshments will be served.

When the Warrenville Historical Museum & Art Gallery reopens on Sunday, February 5th, the year 1862 will also be featured in a new exhibit that will run through the end of November 2012.  Those wishing to relive the historic year can also check out the Historical Societies blog (www.warrenvillehistorical.wordpress.com), where 1862 will be detailed through posts from the diary of Hiram E. Leonard, as well as Ashley Carpenter’s wartime diary. Please visit our website at http://www.warrenvillehistorical.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about these events and other Historical Society programs.  Contact us at info@warrenvillehistorical.org or (630)393-4215 with any questions.