Let CPL Help You Make History with History Fair

Chiago Metro History Fair

Are you participating in History Fair this year? Does your teacher expect you to conduct historical research? Are you wondering where and how to begin? Are looking for primary resources or images for an exhibit board, website or documentary? At Chicago Public Library, we can help you with all of these. Getting Started After you’ve selected your topic, […]

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Chicago’s Farming History

Source: Chicago Public Library, Trade Catalog Collection

This year's One Book, One Chicago, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, encourages readers to think about their relationships with the food they eat. Kingsolver and her family complete a yearlong challenge to grow, produce or buy locally all of their food. The book also criticizes the international food industry for compromising health in favor of efficient production, and for its environmental impact. While […]

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The Ghost of Christmas Past, Shopping Edition

Source: Special Collections, Chicago Loop Alliance Collection, Box 1, Folder 30, Image 8. Christmas Shoppers, Chicago, 1936

Christmas will be here in just a few days. Have you finished your shopping? These days, last-minute Christmas shopping usually involves a click on a screen and waiting for the items to arrive at your house. Not so long ago, though, Chicagoans got all dressed up and traveled downtown to do their holiday shopping. Take a break from your […]

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Chicago Municipal Code: How to Find and Research Historical Codes

Spoiler alert: This post is boring (but may be useful to some people). The Chicago Municipal Code is a one- to three-volume book that provides a subject arrangement of Chicago ordinances of a general and permanent nature. It is essentially an encyclopedia of Chicago law. People are interested in the historical codes for reasons legal, practical […]

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Quiz: How Well Do You Know the CTA?

Man stands with Red Line train in the background at Grand and State

Are you a transit maven? Find out with our quiz from bloggers Chicago in 4D and Municipal Reference Guy, who are librarians in the Municipal Reference Collection at Harold Washington Library Center.

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1948’s “Health King” of Chicago

Boy eating hotdog sandwich and drinking milk

In 1948, Henry Pittner was selected from 13,000 members of the Chicago Boys' Club as the healthiest boy in Chicago. A team of doctors reviewed eight finalists from the club and named Pittner the "Health King." Aside from a cavity in his last baby tooth, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported, the 12-year-old had a perfect physical record. […]

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Chicago’s South Loop Before the Library

400 block of South State Street at Van Buren, circa 1910

It's hard work to keep State Street "that great street," as the lyrics to Frank Sinatra's "Chicago" go. Before Sinatra's 1956 hit song, Chicago's South Loop was dark at night, colorful by day, and its southern edges vexed the best intentions of developers, urban planners and local organizations. As the Harold Washington Library Center celebrates […]

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History of Polish Americans in Chicago

Street view of Polish Chicago, 1981

Most Chicagoans have heard the trope that Chicago has the largest concentration of Polish people outside of Warsaw. (Although here's an article from WBEZ that states this might not be true any more.) But how did Chicago's Polonia come to be? This Polish American Heritage Month, learn the history of how Polish people came to […]

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Hit a Home Run with Chicago Open Archives

Cast of Bleacher Bums, 1989

It’s almost October. The leaves are starting to turn, temperatures are dipping and Chicago has a baseball team headed to the playoffs. In 1977, a different Chicago team, the Organic Theater Company, was looking for a new play. Ensemble member Joe Mantegna had been attending his fair share of Cubs games and pitched the idea […]

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