East Central Illinois Legacy Project: Julia F. Burnham

East Central Illinois Legacy Project: Julia F. Burnham

Mahomet Daily

Published Date: March 3, 2021

EDITOR’S NOTE: In order to understand living conditions and social movements of past centuries, the Mahomet Daily will feature residents of East Central Illinois who have done the little things in their lives to make a difference in moving equality for all forward. This project is in partnership with the Museum of the Grand Prairie, which is collecting stories for their This Legacy is Yours project.

In the late 19th century, Julia Burnham can be seen wearing a corset and a steel-hooped cage crinoline to hold the skirt of her dress. 

The educated woman from New York was blessed with many opportunities that were not afforded to other women of her time. While Burnham had the means to devote her life to helping those in need, many women during the same time period spent their lives tending to tasks within the home.

The maiden Julia Davidson, though, married Mr. Albert C. Burnham, a lawyer, banker, and philanthropist in Champaign, Ill., while in Philadelphia in 1866. Julia gave birth to five children. Three of these children died in infancy while two, Egbert and Mary (Harris) carried on their parents’ legacy.

Today, records show the movements Julia made during her 54 years. But at that time, when women were accounted for in public records by “Mrs.” with their husband’s first and last name instead of their own, Julia’s ideas and accomplishments came with the credit of her husband.

Read her full story below.