Local authors share DeKalb’s history

By Christine Brown

DeKalb’s history has a powerful voice in authors Stephen Bigolin and Jo Fredell Higgins.

Bigolin and Higgins are authors of books on DeKalb history and architecture. Both signed copies of their books at Barnes and Noble, 2439 Sycamore Road, Saturday.

The two historians had not met before, though they share DeKalb as a common topic. Bigolin and Higgins talked of local legends and attending NIU in the ’60s and ’70s.

Bigolin’s book, “A Journey through DeKalb County, Volume II” was published by the Daily Chronicle.

Higgins’ book is simply titled “DeKalb, Illinois” and is part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.

Though born in Oak Park, Bigolin is an expert on DeKalb’s architecture and history. In 1967, Bigolin started as a freshman at NIU and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1971 and a master of arts degree in 1975.

While attending NIU, he researched Victorian architecture. Bigolin wrote a self-guided walking tour manual for DeKalb.

Volume III of Bigolin’s book will be out around Christmas. By 2010, Bigolin expects to have 10 DeKalb history books on the market.

Bigolin is now a part of DeKalb history, as he works with the DeKalb County Historical Society, the Ellwood House, the City of DeKalb Landmark Community, the Land of Lincoln Barbed Wire Collection Association and the Illinois Historical Sites Advisory Council.

As a writer, poet, essayist, photographer and publisher, Higgins is an asset to DeKalb.

Like Bigolin, Higgins attended NIU and graduated in 1968 with a bachelor of arts degree and in 1975 with a master of arts degree. Though she now serves with Aurora’s Youth Township and the Township Foundation, Higgins’ most recent book is a pictorial history of DeKalb.

The book is full of archival photographs and poetic stories that preserve a romantic vision of DeKalb. She also has written pictorial histories for Geneva and Naperville.

Higgins’ poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Her photography has won awards and is featured in “One Day USA.”

Higgins won the 2004 YWCA Woman of Distinction award for her work with adult literacy at Waubonsee Community College. She also took a small volunteer pool and expanded it into a 300-person award-winning volunteer program.