Chicago vs. Smallpox

Previous Post: General George Washington vs. Smallpox According to Pox Americana, historical records indicate the epidemic of 1775-82 killed up to ninety percent of the Indians along trade routes from Mexico City, New Orleans and Canada. The devastation in the middle of the continent was not recorded, but during the 1790s European explorers of the […]

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Guest Blog: Introducing the Ed Paschke Art Center

Nico, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground

Today we're featuring a guest blog by Thea Nichols, director of community engagement at the new Ed Paschke Art Center. She joins us to talk about the center, its namesake and its collaborations with the Chicago Public Library. Ed Paschke is one of Chicago’s most renowned artists. Born and raised on the North Side, Paschke became […]

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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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The Great Chicago Fire Knocked the Loop for a Loop

Field, Leiter & Co. (later Marshall Field & Co.) before the 1871 Fire

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned the heart of Chicago, starting on DeKoven Street on the Near West Side (558 West, 1100 South) and going north to Fullerton Avenue. The Loop was destroyed, as can be seen in these maps. City Hall, Palmer House, Field, Leiter & Co.—all gone. But, with the rubble still […]

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October Is American Archives Month

featured imagefeatured image

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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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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