Whodunit? The Mystery of Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow

etching depicting Mrs. O'Leary, the cow and the broken lamp being kicked over

Humans love to explore ancient mysteries and assign blame. After all, people are still searching for Jack the Ripper, Amelia Earhart and Judge Crater. Therefore, librarians are sometimes asked the name of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow that started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Thereupon lies the mystery. Everyone knows the words to the song: “A hot […]

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Chicago’s early metalsmiths

silver crosses

If you know Chicago trivia, you may already know that the oldest business in continuous operation is C.D. Peacock Jewelers. Founded in 1837, the same year Chicago was incorporated as a city, Peacock's was actually one of five jewelry stores in the infant city. These days when you think of jewelry stores what comes to mind […]

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Happy Birthday, Chicago!

Mayor Harold Washington cutting a birthday cake for Chicago. Cake is elaborately detailed with a large city seal on top. Smiling man with a chef's hat is in the background.

177 years ago Chicago was officially incorporated as a city. Chicago’s newspapers are a wonderful primary source for descriptions of the city’s birthday, no matter which date Chicago chose to celebrate. For example, the March 4 charter was printed by the Chicago Democrat newspaper. In September 1903 Chicago marked the centennial of the 1803 establishment of […]

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