About the Society

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Our Mission

We engage and educate current and future generations by preserving and sharing McHenry County history.

Our Vision

The McHenry County Historical Society & Museum endeavors to be a hub for collection, preservation and educational outreach reflecting McHenry County’s history.

Our Values



View the 2022-25 Strategic Plan (PDF)

Since 1963, the McHenry County Historical Society has strived to engage and educate current and future generations about their county's history. In addition to operating the museum, the Society plaques historic sites and structures, hosts workshops and classes, makes satellite exhibits available, and arranges a wide variety of school and other group programs. Funding for the Society comes from membership dues, admission fees, donations, and a trust fund. We have published a comprehensive quarterly magazine, The Tracer, which has been available only to members for many years. 

The McHenry County Historical Society continues to collect and hold three-dimensional teaching artifacts of human progress in its collection. The Historical Society Museum makes this educational contribution without using tax dollars.The museum also provides a family-oriented entertainment and educational destination spot. It uniquely and interactively helps tell the story of this county and its people. Museums, like theaters, opera houses, parks, libraries, and golf courses, speak to the quality of life issues that ultimately raise our standard of living.

As a resource for local information, the McHenry County Historical Society fields research requests on property, building and site preservation, family history, business history, and object conservation. The Society’s local history research library contains photographs, picture postcards, maps, journals, standard local history books, biographical files, scrapbooks, newspapers, business, club, school and governmental records, and other documentary materials such as old phone directories and high school yearbooks..

In 1995, the Society co-produced a 1,200-plus-page history titled McHenry County in the Twentieth Century. In 2004, the Society co-published the book Historic Country Schools of McHenry County, Illinois, by Society member Robert Frenz. These are all public contributions of the McHenry County Historical Society.

This Society spearheaded the efforts to develop a McHenry County Historic Preservation Ordinance in 1990. Most larger municipalities have followed that lead and established similar ordinances. The society also restored the 1843 Gannon log cabin, the 1867 Pringle School, the 1886 Seneca Town Hall, the 1895 West Harmony School, and a 1950 Modern Tourist Cabin.

In 2009, the Society acquired the 1898 Riley Methodist Church—one of six structures under its care. The others include a former town hall, a log cabin, and two one-room schoolhouses. The 1870 native limestone Union School is part of the Society’s museum at Union. Many of these structures remain on their original sites, standing as footprints of earlier times. They provide visible evidence of our history.

Preserving one’s community provides its citizenry with a visual collective memory. Ultimately, the goal of educational and service organizations like the McHenry County Historical Society is to encourage the appreciation of all aspects of our environment. Individuals who are sensitive to their environment make better citizens. Better citizens vote, participate in community life, and teach their children by example. Historical societies have a role to play in that process.

Download the 2022-23 Annual Report (PDF)