Crossroads ExhibitThis exhibit opened in May 2019 as part of the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program. For six weeks, the History Center hosted this traveling exhibit. There was also a local narrative connecting DeKalb County's history to the national themes presented in the Smithsonian display. This online exhibit showcases those local stories.
In the 19th century Americans lived in rural areas. They built their lives around the work of harvesting what the land could produce. Rural towns became centers of commerce, politics, and culture. Twentieth century America led to changing conditions. Growing urban populations shifted economic investment and political influences from rural communities to cities. Today, rural communities are at a new crossroads, and they are
defining and shaping the future of the United States.
Crossroads: Change in Rural America explores how DeKalb County connects to the national themes of “Identity, Land, Community, Persistence, and Managing Change.” DeKalb County has served as a crossroads since it was established in 1837. Many communities thrived because they were literal crossroads in their early history. Meanwhile, today, only 60 miles west of Chicago, DeKalb County maintains a “country” feel with its farms and community festivals, while being proud of its tradition of being a leader in innovation and technology.