Who Can I Marry? A Chicago History

Photo Credit: firemedict58

As we approach February 26, the first anniversary of the day same-sex marriage began in Chicago, it is interesting to take a look at the history of marriage restrictions in Chicago. Pre-Statehood (Prior to 1818) I haven’t researched this period in great detail, as marriage did not seem to be overly regulated. In early Chicago, […]

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Pullman Becomes a National Monument

Pullman Company Administration Building and Clock Tower

On Thursday, February 19, President Obama will be in Chicago to declare the Pullman neighborhood a national monument. Pullman is one of the most famous and unusual neighborhoods in Chicago. In the 1880s George Pullman developed the area as an idyllic planned community with company-owned houses, schools, a park and a library, among other features, […]

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Little-Known Heroes of Black History

Source: metcalfecollection.org

February ushers in cold temperatures, Groundhog Day and Mardi Gras. The annual rite of passage of celebrating African American History Month is also upon us—a time when many schoolchildren far and wide will trek to their local library with the task of writing an expose about an African American of historical significance. All of the […]

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Researching Chicago’s Streets Over Time

Census enumeration page showing residents for South Ann Street

As we learned in my last post, the tireless efforts of Edward Brennan simplified the street names and house numbers of Chicago. These street name and number changes cause confusion for researchers. Tracking down an address can be difficult if you do not have a modern street name. Some streets have had many name changes. Pulaski […]

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Crown Point, Indiana: Chicago’s Gretna Green

Looking down a street. Old automobiles and buildings

Fans of Regency romances will recognize Gretna Green, a small village in Scotland. English laws of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries required couples to be 21, give public notice and wait several weeks before marrying. Scotland did not require a waiting period and sixteen-year-olds could get married. Eloping couples would flee to Scotland and get […]

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Not Lost? Thank Edward Brennan

Street signs showing the intersection of State and Madison Streets.

We owe our cohesive street naming and numbering system to Edward P. Brennan. Brennan was the chairman of the City Club of Chicago's Committee on Street Names. His vision included three changes: The house and building numbering system should tell you where you are relative to the Loop. Streets should be named the same throughout […]

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From Chaos: Chicago’s Street System

Aerial view of Chicago's northside light by street lights at night

In this age of GPS, having a sense of direction is often a vestigial skill. In some parts of the world, wayfinding is often practiced with regard to mountains – landmarks that you can see and tell if you are going toward, away from or alongside of. Chicago has sometimes been said to be the […]

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Mavis Staples: She’ll Take You There

Mavis Staples

On the occasion of the publication of Greg Kot's I'll Take You There, I thought I'd showcase some Mavis Staples' and the Staples Singers' discography here at CPL. But first, the book: Kot is a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, and it shows in his short chapters and succinct writing. While focusing mostly on the […]

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Monsters of the Midway Redux

Monster of the Midway book cover

OK Bears fans, another Super Bowl, another no-show for our team. It's been a rough year (actually, a rough decade) for Bears fans. Every season we hope and pray for the best, only to be devastated yet again. At first it was Lovie Smith who was going to lead us to the Super Bowl—well, we […]

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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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