Do I Hear a Waltz? Teens Dancing in Chicago

Weekends in May mean prom for many Chicago teens. After months of planning, the big night has arrived. Now it’s time to slip into formal dresses, rented tuxedos, corsages and boutonnieres. If you look under any flowering tree on Saturday night, you’ll probably see a group of teens posing for pictures to commemorate the evening. […]

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Mother, My Dear: Historical Greeting Cards

In the United States, we've been celebrating mothers on the second Sunday in May for over a hundred years. Most everyone has made or purchased a Mother's Day card at some point for their mom or a special mother figure. In the past, cards received in and from Chicago might have been published by the P.F. […]

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Remembering Martha Lavey, Former Steppenwolf Artistic Director

Martha Lavey, the artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company from 1995 to 2015, and a member of the theater's acting ensemble since 1993, died Tuesday. Lavey left her mark on Chicago's theater community and on Chicago Public Library. A champion not only of Steppenwolf, but of theaters across the city, she spoke about the importance of the […]

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#TBT, Happy Birthday, Harold Washington!

Saturday marks the 95th anniversary of Mayor Harold Washington's birth. The beloved Mayor of Chicago served the city from 1983 until his death in 1987, and made his mark on Chicago in multiple ways. Take some time to celebrate Harold's birthday by reading up on his legacy, or with a visit to the Special Collections and […]

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#TBT: Happy Birthday, Sidney Poitier!

Academy Award-winning actor Sidney Poitier celebrates his 90th birthday on February 20. For this Throwback Thursday, explore the star’s life and career—including a Chicago connection. In 1959, Lorraine Hansberry’s play set in Chicago, A Raisin in the Sun, opened at the Blackstone Theater on Michigan Avenue for a tryout before heading to Broadway. Poitier led […]

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Once Upon a Valentine

As February 14 approaches, men and women, young and old will wade through seas of red and pink in card aisles trying to find the perfect words to convey their feelings and sentiments to loved ones and sweethearts. Exchanging valentine cards has been popular since the late 1700s, and continues to be today. In 1908 […]

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Let CPL Help You Make History with 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 you looking for primary resources or images for an exhibit board, website or documentary? At CPL, we can help you with all of these. Getting Started After you’ve selected your topic, start […]

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1948’s “Health King” of Chicago

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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Hit a Home Run with Chicago Open Archives

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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Another Ferris Wheel Made in Chicago

Navy Pier turned 100 this year, and the new Centennial Wheel made its maiden voyage. The Ferris wheel is no stranger to Chicago. The first Ferris wheel was built especially for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. was tasked with creating something so stunning and special that it would "out-Eiffel" even the Eiffel Tower, […]

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