I’ll Have My Regular, Please

State St. Days, 1956. Source: Chicago Loop Alliance Collection, Special Collections. Box 4, Folder 5.

A theme running throughout this year's One Book One Chicago selection, Thomas Dyja's The Third Coast, is the value Chicagoans placed on being "regular." In the preface, Dyja states, Towering success mattered less to the vast majority of Chicagoans than just being "regular".... "Beyond being regular," wrote novelist Nelson Algren, "there was nothing expected of a man. […]

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#OBOC Part 2: Want to Know More About Nelson Algren?

Nelson Algren

Part 2 of The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja, this year's One Book, One Chicago selection, covers the years 1945 to 1949. Dyja's sweeping history pays particular attention to the development of art and culture in Chicago, focusing on architecture, music, television and literature. One person he highlights in this section is Nelson Algren, a novelist whose work examines the gritty underworld […]

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#OBOC Part 1: What Else Was Happening?

Special Collections, Chicago Park District Records, Drawing 3571. This drawing, traced by the WPA, shows Washington Square Park, discussed by Dyja as "Bughouse Square" near Towertown.

Part 1 of Thomas Dyja's The Third Coast, this year's One Book One Chicago selection, focuses on the late 1930s in Chicago. Dyja crams a lot that's fascinating into those first four chapters, but even such a big book can't possibly cover it all. What else was happening in Chicago in the late 1930s? Here's one answer […]

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What Do Memorial Day and Logan Square Have in Common?

General John A. Logan. Source: Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign by George N. Barnard

The first official Memorial Day in 1868 was held to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. The national day of remembrance, May 30, was declared by John A. Logan in his role as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a veterans' group for Union soldiers. John A. Logan was born in Jackson County in southern Illinois. […]

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National Poetry Month: Poetry History

Postcard from Gwendolyn Brooks to Paul Breman. Source: Heritage Press Archives

April is National Poetry Month! Chicago Public Library's archival collections help you explore poetry history. The Hugh J. Schwartzberg Poetry Collection highlights famous poets and Chicago's role in 20th century poetry history. The Heritage Press Archives focus on poetry by writers of African descent in the second half of the 20th century. Hugh J. Schwartzberg, a poet […]

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Chicago Park District Records: Behind the Scenes

This 1917 drawing shows plans to fill in Lake Michigan to extend Grant Park.

If you are anything like me, you spent much of the summer outside, soaking up what warmth you could before it was, well, now. My family was outdoors as much as possible, running, biking, walking the dog, sampling playgrounds and swimming. New to Chicago, I was thrilled by all the green space within walking distance of my Southside […]

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Martin Luther King Day’s Chicago Roots

Mayor Harold Washington with Coretta Scott King

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr.  was assassinated in Memphis while there to support sanitation workers striking for higher wages and better working conditions. Five years later, in 1973, Harold Washington, then an Illinois state representative, introduced a bill to make Martin Luther King's birthday a state holiday. The bill passed the Illinois House and Senate, and Washington […]

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A Civil War Thanksgiving for Illinois

Source: Harper's Weekly, 1863 December 5

Thanksgiving started with the pilgrims, right? Well, yes and no. Celebrations of gratitude for a bountiful harvest were traditional for Native Americans and Europeans alike, and these ceremonies have occurred since before the earliest days of Europeans settling in North America. It wasn't until 1863, however, that President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November […]

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October Is American Archives Month

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When people ask what I do, I usually say, "I'm a librarian." This is true, but my day-to-day work with archives is pretty different from that of many of my CPL colleagues. Telling people I'm an archivist usually elicits blank stares, though. So, in honor of American Archives Month, let me tell you a little about my job. First, what […]

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