Historical Chicago Newspapers

Newsboy sells newspapers in this historic photo

How's your Chicago History Fair project going? Did you know that the Chicago Public Library has lots of historical Chicago newspapers on microfilm? Some of them go way back, to 1833. That's the Chicago Democrat, the first Chicago newspaper. Back in the 1800's and 1900's, Chicago had more than just two or three newspapers. For […]

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Think Deep Thoughts: Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is enjoying a bit of a renaissance with her latest collection of essays: Men Explain Things to Me. The title essay explores how Solnit and women in general tend to assume that men are more knowledgeable on a subject than they are, even when the woman is the expert. This essay gave rise to […]

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December 7, 1941: “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

FDR Presidential Library and Museum

Many countries have gone through traumatic episodes in their history that have changed the direction of the entire country. For the United States, that time came around 8 a.m. Sunday, December 7, 1941. In the early morning hours, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base located at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii, […]

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Celebrate Beethoven’s Birthday with Concerts, Books

Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler

December 16 would have been Ludwig van Beethoven’s 245th birthday. Celebrate one of the greatest classical composers with Chicago Public Library! Learn more about Beethoven’s life and influence on music with our Beethoven's birthday booklist. Then bring your family and join us for two concerts: Happy Birthday, Beethoven 6:30 p.m. December 8 at Lincoln Belmont […]

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What Were They Thinking?

What Were They Thinking

People are weird. We're such a strange combination of messy biology and competing motivations, sometimes we erupt into acts so odd it takes deep research to figure out what the heck we were thinking in the first place. The research, though, makes for good reading. In 1997 in British Columbia, a former logger cut down a […]

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Merchant Marine: “We Deliver the Goods”

Merchant Marine World War II recruitment poster: "You Bet I'm Going Back to Sea"

August 1942. The island of Malta, a strategic supply point for the Allied forces fighting in Italy and North Africa, was under siege by Axis forces. Malta was desperately running short of supplies and fuel, so Winston Churchill ordered Operation Pedestal, a convoy of 14 merchant ships escorted by aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers and heavy […]

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Lost Worlds

Lost Worlds

It's hard to keep track of the places lost to history. They've been wiped off the face of the Earth, absorbed into larger nations, ground down into nothing or sometimes just invented by our collective imagination. The struggle to preserve these worlds in our memory makes for compelling literature. Famed explorer Percy Fawcett disappeared into the Amazon in […]

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Call It Like You See It

Call It Like You See It

I'm a big fan of honesty, even if I don't like what's being said. When it comes to history, journalism or politics, I come back again and again to books by people who try to be fair but never pull their punches. The histories of Ammianus Marcellinus mainly cover the 4th century Roman Empire and are especially […]

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History Is an Awful, Bloody Mess

You should see what I didn't include.

It's an awful thing what people do to each other. Sometimes the only solace is the fact that we've been doing it for centuries and just have to deal with it. Looking back, you might even start to think we've been getting more peaceful. Starting from sweet home Chicago, The Gang is a 1927 study detailing the behavior […]

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Read Like an Egyptian

source:  Jan Tik, flickr

Missing tombs, hidden doorways and a powerful queen....it may sound like I'm describing a great fictional story, but in fact these are all pieces of a real-life mystery! For hundreds of years, the resting place of the beautiful and powerful Nefertiti, queen of Egypt in the 14th century B.C., has been a mystery. That was […]

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