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. […]

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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 40th, Northlight Theatre

Program from Tom Stoppard's Jumpers at Northlight 1975

This season Northlight Theatre in Skokie launches its 40th anniversary with the Midwest premiere of Amanda Peet’s The Commons of Pensacola. Founded in 1974 as the Evanston Theatre Company by Frank Galati, Mike Nussbaum and Greg Kandel, Northlight’s success is documented in the Northlight Theatre Collection. Researchers can visit the archive to see the theater’s premiere […]

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Ninety Years at the Goodman

program cover, dedication goodman theatre, october 20, 1925

This fall the Goodman raises the curtain on its 90th anniversary season. They have an exciting lineup of plays beginning with an encore production of the critically acclaimed Smokefall. The Goodman was officially dedicated on October 20, 1925. The Repertory Company gave a performance of three works that night all by the late Kenneth Sawyer […]

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Technology that changed Chicago: Wooden Barrels

Men loading barrels on truck

Wooden barrels have been used since ancient times. Barrels have been part of American life since the beginning of European immigration. Our first barrel maker came over on the Mayflower. Barrels were fairly cheap, reusable, strong, crushproof, weatherproof, watertight, somewhat tamperproof and could be stamped or branded with the content information.  They could be rolled […]

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Vital Voices: Jane Addams Hull House Museum

Source: Library of Congress, photo by Moffett

Where would Chicago be if it weren't for Jane Addams? September 18 marks the 125th anniversary of Hull House, the settlement founded by Jane Addams that changed the lives of many individual Chicagoans while also challenging the status quo through reform and activism. The Hull House Association, which carried on the social service aspect of Jane […]

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Labor Day, Labor History

Magnolia Avenue, 8 1/2 foot connection with 11 foot at Glenwood Avenue and Thorndale Avenue looking upstream, August 11, 1933.

Well, it's here: Labor Day. The end of summer, when swimming pools close and schools open. But in all this back-to-school hullabaloo, it's easy to forget the origins of the holiday. Labor Day was first instituted at the city and state levels as early as 1885. Federal recognition came in 1894, and the first Monday of September was designated […]

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Celebrate Wizard of Oz’s Chicago Roots

Montgomery and Stone as the Scarecrow and Tinman at the Grand Opera House, 1902.

August celebrates the 75th anniversary of the release of the MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz. This favorite has roots in Chicago. L. Frank Baum wrote the children's story in 1900 while living in Chicago, and many speculate that the Emerald City was inspired by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition's famed White City. Baum's […]

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Happy Birthday, Preston Sturges

The Palm Beach Story

Next week marks what would have been the 116th birthday of the director, playwright and screenwriter Preston Sturges (August 29, 1898-August 6, 1959). Born in Chicago as Edmund Preston Biden, Sturges began a life in the theater at a young age when he traveled with his eccentric actress mother to Europe to work with Isadora Duncan. Later, as […]

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10 Years of Millennium Park

A crowd of people interact with Cloud Gate during Millennium Park's opening weekend. The Michigan Avenue street wall is visible in the background.

This summer saw the 10th anniversary of Millennium Park, which opened in July 2004. Planning, fundraising and construction of the park began as early as 1996, when organizers started to investigate who owned the park site. Today, features of the park are some of Chicago's most recognized landmarks. CPL holds two archival collections that allow you to […]

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