For decades, patrons and staff in the third floor archive of Williams Hall reported encountering the ghost of Illinois State University’s beloved librarian, Angeline V. Milner. However, “Aunt Ange,” as she was known in life, never set foot in Williams Hall. Because of this fact, the theory developed that she must be haunting her books, many of which still had her hand-written call numbers on the bindings. The current employees working in Williams Hall are in a unique position to test this theory, since both the University Archive and the old book collection were moved to other locations in the fall and winter of 2006. This is just the latest chapter in a long journey.
Since her death, Miss Milner’s books have had no less than four homes. During the first half of her 37 years as librarian of Normal University, Ange occupied a corner of the Old Main Building, which was damaged in a storm that struck the campus in 1902. The entire structure was torn down in 1959. In 1917 the university moved its library to North Hall, a Victorian Romanesque building designed by a local architect and built in 1892. Miss Milner worked there until she died. North Hall served as the library until 1940, when a new building was constructed and christened “Milner Library” to honor Normal University’s beloved Aunt Ange. It was a fine example of neo-Georgian architecture designed by C. Herrick Hammond. In 1976, the old Milner Library became known as Williams Hall and most of the university’s 675,000 books were moved into the new Milner Library, a square, concrete structure located on the north side of campus. Many of the older books remained on the third floor of Williams Hall, which was used as the university archive.
According to Jim Caselton, Distribution Clerk at Milner Library, in 2006 some of these books were returned to the main library, and others were moved to a storage facility specially designed to maintain antique books. “They are housed in much better environment than could be maintained in Williams Hall,” he recently informed me.
Has Ange Milner’s ghost followed her books to their new location, or has she finally found peace? Only time will tell.
Read more about the ghost of Ange Milner in the latest issue of the Legends and Lore of Illinois, or read the most detailed account of all the hauntings of Illinois State University in my new book, Paranormal Illinois.