Founded in 1857 and originally a teacher’s college, Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois is currently home to around 23,000 students and faculty, as well as one tenacious ghost. This ghost is said to be that of Angeline V. Milner, or Ange for short, a librarian who remained with her books long after she passed from this world. As head librarian for 37 years, she was so beloved by the school that Illinois State University named its library after her.
Angeline Vernon Milner was born on April 9, 1856 in Bloomington. By all accounts, she seemed to be destined for the work which would become her legacy. According to Charles W. Perry, who assisted the famed librarian for several years and wrote her biography, she learned how to read before she was four-years-old.
Ange began her fated job at the university library on February 1, 1890, and the Normal School Board was so impressed with her skill and dedication that they appointed her as the sole and head librarian in the fall of that same year.
“Aunt Ange,” as the students called her, died in 1928. According to legend, she collapsed while organizing a section of biology books. She was buried in Bloomington’s Evergreen Cemetery, but for whatever reason did not have a headstone until a short time ago. In April 2006, former Governor Rod Blagojevich, along with Mayor Chris Koos of Normal, issued dual proclamations declaring April 10th “Angie Milner Day.”
Brent Bader at Illinois State University’s Daily Vidette has written an excellent article about my new book, Ghostlore of Illinois Colleges and Universities. Thanks, Brent!
We’ve all gathered around campfires to hear friends tell ghost stories which were never fact-checked or investigated, but Michael Kleen is doing the research and compiled a list of “ghostlore” present at many Illinois colleges, including Illinois State University.
“I’ve written about other kinds of haunted places in the past, but until now, no one has devoted an entire book to Illinois college ghostlore,” Kleen said. “It’s a celebration of what makes our colleges and universities unique.”
This is a topic that Kleen is quite familiar with, having written many books about the subject, but by specifying the stories that took place on college campuses he is going back to the very location that originally inspired his hunt.
“I have been collecting and researching folklore and ghost stories for more than a decade,” Kleen said. “Although I’ve always been interested in reading ghost stories, I didn’t start writing about them until I went to college at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. I started collecting them and publishing what I found on the internet.”
Kleen said he found that Eastern was host to some of the most popular ghost stories in the state, which inspired him to look beyond the campus and see what other colleges offered in that realm. The author made sure to detail all of his findings in a way that others could prove or follow up on his work.