Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, 1861 March 6. Matthew Brady, photographer. Source: CPL, Grand Army of the Republic Collection, 72.341

Few presidents are as respected as Abraham Lincoln. We all know some basic facts about the man who would have been 207 this year: he was tall, bearded, a lawyer and a politician; he famously debated Stephen A. Douglas, most notably about slavery; he was president during the Civil War and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended legal slavery; […]

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#TBT: Hamlet, a Woman?

Hamlet at McVicker's Theatre starring Anna Dickinson, 01-30-1882

In Shakespeare’s day, only men acted in his plays, even playing female characters. 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, and over the centuries, things have changed. Men and women have played both male and female parts—I even saw an all-female cast of Henry V back in high school. But that was actually nothing new. […]

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Examining Chicago’s Role in Political Conventions

Abraham Lincoln campaign ribbon from 1860

Even before the groundhog looks for his shadow, the first political contest for 2016 begins. Starting with the Iowa caucus on February 1, the primary season ushers in a year of non-stop television ads and lots of opinions. Thomas Dyja, the author of this year's One Book, One Chicago selection, describes our city’s impact on […]

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David Bowie’s American Stage Debut

Elephant Man Title Page

“How many rock stars could step out from behind their guitars and into a Broadway drama without thoroughly embarrassing themselves? At least one: David Bowie.” Theater critic Scott Fosdick asked and answered this question when David Bowie made his American stage debut as John Merrick in The Elephant Man at Chicago’s Blackstone Theatre in 1980. […]

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The Season of Giving

Child tending garden. Source: Chicago Outdoor Art League Records. Photograph 1.28

I recently finished reading The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja, this year's One Book One Chicago selection. The OBOC program this year is framed by the theme, "Chicago: The City That Gives." This time of year, that message really resonates. To honor the theme and to continue my goal of highlighting connections between CPL's archives and Dyja's history, […]

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#TBT: It’s a Double Woodson Birthday Celebration!

Chicago Public Library, Hall Branch Archives

This month Carter G. Woodson Regional Library celebrates two important birthdays on December 19; let's honor them for this Throwback Thursday. The library marks its 40th year of service to the city, and it's the 140th birth anniversary of the building's namesake, Carter Godwin Woodson. Carter G. Woodson Regional Library opened December 19, 1975, in […]

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Maxwell Street Market Today

people walking in front of colorful signs

In my last post, we learned about the history and economic heart of the Maxwell Street Market. As a business area that served many of the cities’ marginalized populations, Maxwell Street Market became culturally significant too. Street musicians and buskers developed their own take on Chicago blues. You can hear this style on albums as […]

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Maxwell Street: The Market of the Third Coast

Man leaning on stand with suit jackets and pants

Chicago may not have the oldest municipal public market in the country–Pike’s Place Market in Seattle claims that title. But Chicago's Maxwell Street Market may be the most colorful. Some may argue that Maxwell Street's heyday was between the 1930s and the 1960s, the same period discussed in the One Book One Chicago selection, Thomas […]

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Alice on the Stage

Alice in Wonderland program cover

Lewis Carroll's beloved fantasy story Alice in Wonderland has delighted children for 150 years. Alice is loved not only on paper, but also on the stage. In 1898, Burton Harrison brought Alice in Wonderland to life in three acts at the request of "kind ladies" caring for ailing children at a London hospital. By the […]

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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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