Author! Author! is a list of publications that
credit the collection or staff of the Museum. Whether a work is
distributed by a famous publishing house or self-published, fiction or
history, DVD or book, we have included it on our list. Some of the
publications result from a formal collaboration with the Museum; others
are the result of individual research using our resources. Our name may
come up in the photo credits, or perhaps you will find it in the
acknowledgments. Whatever the case, we want to know more and share more
about our impact.
Once a month, President Gary Johnson or Chief Historian Russell
Lewis comment on a publication that provides a window into our
collections. Authors and publishers who have used and credited our
research resources and wish to be included in this list should send an
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.
New York: Norton, 2010.
President's Commentary, December 2010: We
live in an era when a politician is condemned as a "flip-flopper" for
having an open mind and allowing stands on issues to change as
circumstances change. Foner's very thoughtful study of Lincoln's
evolving views on race and slavery, and of the political choices that
Lincoln made, should be a strong counter-argument to that simplistic
way of thinking. The problem for readers like us is that no matter how
nuanced the account of the arc of Lincoln's life may be, we know too
much about where the story of race in America was heading - toward
Civil War, Reconstruction, and beyond. Whenever we see personal
attitudes in Lincoln that history later would condemn, it always is
unsettling. That reaction, however, should lead us to redouble our own
efforts in our own lives to keep an open mind and to question our
assumptions, always open to the possibility that we might not have the
Haas, Shirley Lowry.
“Genealogical Research Solves a Family Mystery,” Chicago
Genealogist. Chicago Genealogical Society: Vol. 43, No. 1
President's Commentary, November
2010: This article from Chicago’s leading family
history publication is a reminder of the Chicago History Museum’s
impact on personal lives. A family researcher tells the story.
She discovered that our Research Center has copies of the Chicago
Daily Socialist, where she found a report of the 1910 murder of her
grandfather, Armand Lilien. Lilien had broken up a street fight
between two boys. The father of one of the boys then assaulted
him, and he died. Lilien had immigrated to Chicago from Belgium.
He had been the first international president of the Hod Carriers
and Building Laborers Union, and he also served as President of Local 4
in Chicago. The author had grown up without a grandfather, but
family members had not shared the story of his death with her.
Now she knows what happened.
Titone, Nora. My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry
Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth that Led to an American Tragedy.
New York: Free Press (2010).
President's Commentary, October
2010: The Lincoln bicentennial generated literally
hundreds of new books, and, in the end, very few genuine surprises.
The surprise here is that the relationship of the two famous
Booth brothers is such an obvious subject, yet we know so little about
it. Think of this: A third-rate actor who is the brother of
possibly the world's most famous actor stages an episode literally out
of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." How did this come about?
It turns out that their father, too, was a famous actor, but his
messy family life on two continents was guaranteed to promote
insecurity on top of sibling rivalry among his children. Nora
Titone makes great progress with her subject, and I highly recommend
this book, but, in the end, questions of motivation can only be
Grandin, Madame Léon. A Parisienne in Chicago: Impressions of
the World’s Columbian Exposition. Urbana, IL: University of
Illinois Press (2009).
President's Commentary, September 2010: One of
the pleasures of this account by a French observer is to look up her
descriptions of well-known individuals. She describes Bertha
Honoré Palmer, the President of the Board of Lady Managers for the
exposition, as “a charming American woman who lives in Paris and is a
distinguished art critic.” Palmer was “attractive and witty with
a Parisian sort of distinction”, someone who has “a very French
appearance….” You might gather from this that her observations
all were predictable, but sometimes I find even a throw-away comment
arresting. On her way to Chicago, she visited New York.
While she liked the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she preferred the
New York’s Museum of Natural History. Why? “More than fine
arts, American instinctually appreciate works of nature. No
expense has been spared in assembling the most varied and unusual
examples.” Superficial, perhaps, but maybe at that time, she was
right. If so, doesn’t this help to explain why, over a century
later, our great natural history museums hold such a vast legacy?
Windhorst, Edward and Kevin Harrington. Lake Point Tower: A
Design History. Chicago, IL: Chicago Architecture (2009).
President's Commentary, August 2010: A
brief study of one of America’s architectural treasures, one that has
stood the test of time. Some of the beautiful architectural
photographs are from the Hedrich-Blessing Collection.
Titone, Nora. My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry
Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth that Led to an American Tragedy.
New York: Free Press (2010).
President's Commentary, July 2010: The
Lincoln bicentennial generated literally hundreds of new books, and, in
the end, very few genuine surprises. The surprise here is that
the relationship of the two famous Booth brothers is such an obvious
subject, yet we knew so little about it. Think of this: A
third-rate actor who is the brother of possibly the world's most famous
actor stages an episode literally out of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar."
How did this come about? It turns out that their father,
too, was an actor, but his messy family life on two continents was
guaranteed to promote insecurity on top of sibling rivalry. Nora
Titone makes great progress with her subject, and I highly recommend
this book, but, in the end, questions of motivation can only be
Ford, Liam T. A. Soldier Field: A Stadium and Its City.
New York: Free Press (2010).
President's Commentary, June
2010: Wrigley Field may be better-known, but the
author has it right when he says of Soldier Field “a stadium and its
city.” It turns out that far more than athletic events have been
held in this massive facility. For example, it used to be the
setting for the annual Chicagoland Music Festival which attracted both
performers and spectators in Brobdingnagian proportions. (I
remember in particular the massed accordions.) It has hosted
memorable religious events, such as the Catholic Eucharistic Congress
in 1925 and the Billy Graham Crusade of 1962. Some of the best
photos are from the Chicago Park District, which justifiably prides
itself on its special collections.
Schlachtmeyer, Sandra Spatz. A Death Decoded: Robert
Kennicott and the Alaska Telegraph. Alexandria Virginia: Voyage
Publishing Inc. (2010).
President's Commentary, May 2010: This
short book tells the gripping story of one of Chicago’s great figures,
Robert Kennicott. This 30-year-old naturalist died mysteriously
in Alaska. The author describes the efforts to take a forensic
approach to explore unanswered questions. This is a truly
fascinating account. This young man, by the way, left a
remarkable legacy. Kennicott worked for the Smithsonian
Institution, and in 1856 helped to found the Chicago Academy of
Sciences. Only a year later, he helped to found Northwestern
University’s own natural history museum. His legacy lives best at
The Grove National Historic Landmark in Glenview, one of my favorite
Chicago-area museum treasures.
Barnhart, Bill and Gene Schlickman. John Paul Stevens:
An Independent Life. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois
President’s Commentary: April
2010: Barnhart and Schlickman offer a completely
original and readable approach that connects the life and career of a
future Supreme Court justice with his distinguished contributions on
the court. This is a new direction for legal scholarship and a
great service to our democracy.
Beito, David T. and Linda Royster Beito. Black
Maverick: T.R.M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic
Power. Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press
President's Commentary: March 2010:
This book is a prime example of how the unconventional life of
one man can shed new light on an historical movement. T.R.M.
Howard was a medical doctor and businessman in Mississippi. He
became personally involved in the search for the truth after the death
of Emmett Till in 1955. Faced with death threats, he moved to
Chicago, where he opened a medical practice, got into legal trouble for
performing abortions – and ran for Congress against William L. Dawson
as a Republican. Howard battled at times with the NAACP, as both
gave considerable attention to the positioning of civil rights
activities, so that the movement would not be dragged into Cold War
anti-communist politics. It is a delicious irony that records
about Howard that were created under orders from J. Edgar Hoover became
primary sources for this valuable biography.
Waugh, Joan. U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (Civil War
America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press
President's Commentary: February 2010: This book is
more about memory than it is about Grant himself. Ronald Reagen, it
might be said, is an example of a President whose stock has gone up
since he died—the collapse of communism confirmed a key view of his
presidency, and the publication of his letters revealed a thoughtful
and articulate human side. Joan Waugh's book on Grant reveals a
President whose reputation collapsed after his death. This would have
been very hard to predict. The writing of his memoirs as he lay dying
created a best-seller and induced sympathetic feelings. The Union
general who won the war by risking the lives of his troop was mourned
at his funeral by veterans from the Confederacy. His personal
weaknesses were well-known and were forgiven. Memorials were built in
the form of his tomb in New York and his monument on in Washington,
D.C. More than anything, it seems, his reputation was overshadowed by
the myth of the South as a lost cause and by the apotheosis of Robert
E. Lee as a kind of saint. Will the record correct itself? This
excellent book may help, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. The
best-known movie portraying the Civil War remains Gone with
the Wind. Subsequent events have made us harsher on corruption in
presidential administrations. Grant's incomplete efforts at
Reconstruction probably will be remembered not for their good
intentions but for their missed opportunities. One point to remember:
as we read Douglas Brinkley's very complete portrayal of Teddy
Roosevelt as an environmentalist, let's not forget that it was U.S.
Grant in 1872 who created the first national park—Yellowstone.
A. Gaining Ground in Illinois: Welfare Reform and
Person-Centered Policy Analysis. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois
University Press (2009).
President's Commentary: January 2010: This is a
very unusual and valuable book. First, it is a rare example of a
legislatively-mandated review of a major policy change. The sponsor of
the legislation mandating the review was none other than Barack Obama,
then an Illinois State Senator, and the subject was the application in
Illinois of federal welfare reform. Second, the studies included in the
book reflect a methodological breakthrough by focusing on individuals
who were affected by reforms, in addition to statistics that review the
experience as a whole. Professor Lewis richly demonstrates that a
"person-centered strategy is within reach" for researching the
effectiveness of policy initiatives. We come to know certain
individuals, but fortunately this is not a string of colorful,
unrelated anecdotes. Lewis dares to categorize the individuals surveyed
into types and in doing so, draws a common-sense conclusion that had
eluded the polemicists of the left and the right, that a reform will
have differing impacts on different kinds of people. Summarizing this
approach in a brief review such as this may raise the question that the
approach is circular, that people are grouped not because of their
characteristics, but because of their differing reactions. Read the
studies, and you will see that author avoided that trap. Each and every
study includes some surprising results, which, I imagine, is exactly
why State Senator Obama wanted this work to be done. This book is a ray
of hope that in a polarized democracy, dispassionate scholars can shed
light on policy initiatives when they focus their attention on real
individuals, and not on the cartoon versions that illustrate our
Cahan, Richard, and Williams, Michael. Edgar Miller and the
Hand-Made Home: Chicago's Forgotten Renaissance Man
. Chicago, IL:
CityFiles Press (2009).
President's Commentary: December 2009: Chicago is
known for its modern functional elegance, but take a look at Edgar
Miller and you will come away with a completely different impression of
what Chicago could produce. Miller drew on ideas from other eras,
including the medieval period. "Renaissance man" understates Miller's
accomplishments and his mastery of some two dozen crafts. The
photographs are gorgeous, as they need to be in order to do justice to
the color, variety and texture of Miller's work in every medium. Most
of the shots are from private homes, so even experts on Chicago
buildings will find new material. Scholars will welcome that the book
is comprehensive and definitive, but everyone will be astonished by the
warmth and variety of Miller's creations. This is a great book for
anyone who loves Chicago and anyone who cares about true
(director). The Botany of Desire Featuring Michael Pollan (DVD).
Washington, D.C.: PBS (2009).
President's Commentary: November 2009: This
highly-regarded PBS documentary included images from
the Chicago Daily News photo collection of the
Chicago History Museum. The focus is on four specific plants, the apple
and the potato (as you might expect), but also marijuana and the tulip.
At the forefront is each plant’s on-going relationship with human
beings, which gives rise to wider insights.
Jack. The Railroad Tycoon Who Built Chicago: A Biography of
William B. Ogden. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University
President's Commentary: October 2009: William B.
Ogden was the first Mayor of the City of Chicago, serving from 1837-38.
He was a giant in Chicago’s history, who played a leading role both in
canal and railroad development. What sets this book apart is that it
includes much about his life apart from the Chicago years. Too often in
accounts of Chicagoans, they seem to parachute into the city, with only
a brief reference to some place back east where they came from. Jack
Harpster includes information about Ogden’s background in upstate New
York, as well as his interactions with business and political circles
on the east coast. This comprehensive approach to a key Chicago figure
is a real gift.
Donna T. America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism,
1867-1960. New York, NY: New York University Press (2009).
President's Commentary: September 2009: Have you
ever wondered why the rest of the world celebrates Labor Day on May 1st
and we don’t? The answer is fascinating, and there is a Chicago
Hough, Jessica and Monica
Ramirez-Montagut, eds. Revisiting the Glass House:
Contemporary Art and Modern Architecture. New Haven, Connecticut:
Yale University Press (2009). (Published in association with the
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and Mills College Art
Byrne, John B. Cuneo Museum and Gardens. Charleston,
South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing (2009).
Brosens, Koenraad. European Tapestries in the Art
Institute of Chicago. Chicago, Illinois: The Art Institute of
Schulman, Daniel, ed. A Force for Change: African American
Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Chicago, Illinois: Spertus
Institute of Jewish Studies (2009).
President's Commentary: August 2009: Four books
involving other museums, and all credit images from the Chicago History
Museum. This random selection of new publications graphically
illustrates how dependent museums are upon each other’s intellectual
property, even when putting a book together about a museum’s own
collections and specialized interests. Sometimes the connection is not
obvious. Why would a work on European tapestries need an image from the
Chicago History Museum? This book includes a photograph of a room in
the Potter Palmer residence, with tapestries visible, reproduced from
our photograph collection. A Force for Change: African
American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund is another
stunning example of the impact of Julius Rosenwald on the lives of
African Americans. It is remarkable to learn about the individuals who
were supported by his fund, and stunning to see their artistic output.
In this instance, we were proud to play a bit part in a beautiful book
with a 1930 Hedrich-Blessing photograph of the Michigan Boulevard
Garden Apartments, which were financed by Julius Rosenwald and designed
by Ernest A. Grunsfeld.
Burnham, Daniel H. and
Bennett, Edward H. Charles Moore, ed. Plan of Chicago:
Centennial Edition. Chicago, IL: Great Books Foundation
President's Commentary: July 2009: We now have
a reasonably-priced edition of the Plan of Chicago, as well as a
special gold-leaf edition - both a public service at the time of the
Plan's centennial. The reproduction of the color images from the
digital archives of the Chicago History Museum is gorgeous. Upon
rereading the Plan, what struck me was not so much the visionary images
of Chicago, which are iconic, but the many images from Europe.
On almost every point, the authors turned to precedents from London,
Berlin, Vienna, and, above all, Paris. Some lessons remain unfulfilled
to this day, such as the point that "It has been the experience of
European cities that the banks of a river, although at first devoted
only to commercial purposes, sooner or later are transformed into
places which combine business uses with drives and promenades for
traffic and for the pleasure of the people." Sometimes Europe is held
as a counterexample, including the swipe at London for failing to
implement Christopher Wren's plans following the 1666 Great Fire of
This all demonstrates a great familiarity with European capitals on
the part of Chicago's wealthy. Our blockbuster
exhibition, Chic Chicago, closing this month, proves this
connection. What has fashion to do with infrastructure? Whatever the
motivation, the era of the Burnham Plan was one in which Chicago saw
itself in a worldly context and the insights of its leaders were based
on extensive travel.
Wiche, Glen N.,
ed. Dispatches from Bermuda: The Civil War Letters of Charles
Maxwell Allen, United States Consul at Bermuda, 1861-1888.Kent,
Ohio: Kent State University Press (2008).
President's Commentary: June 2009: Something
new on the Civil War? You might think that is impossible, even as the
bicentennial approaches, now less than two years away. Here's something
new, thanks to the meticulous editorial work of Chicago scholar and
antiquarian bookseller, Glen N. Wiche. The letters of Charles Maxwell
Allen, the U.S. Consul to Bermuda, largely have escaped the attention
of historians, but that no longer will be the case because of this
compilation and the editor's invaluable commentary. If you think that
Bermuda is a sideshow to the Civil War, then think again: its location
was central to the Union blockade of southern seaports and the efforts
to defy the blockade and slip war supplies to the Confederacy. These
potentially were game-changers in the Civil War as a whole, and
occupied considerable attention by Lincoln. Allen was virtually alone
in representing the interests of the United States on an island of
Confederate sympathizers. This is a fascinating window into citizenship
and foreign service, one that is a reminder of the courage and personal
sacrifices made by our own foreign service representatives during
today's dangerous times.
Satter, Beryl. Family
Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban
America. New York: Henry Holt and Company (2009).
President's Commentary: May 2009: It is unusual for
an academic work to include family history, but this is the strength of
Beryl Satter’s valuable account, which begins with her father. In 1957,
attorney Mark Satter was among the first to blow the whistle on
contract-buying as the only option open to many of Chicago’s Blacks for
buying a home. There were two terrible abuses: the buyer had no equity
in the property until the final payment was made, and even one missed
payment could result in a loss of the property. Contract-buying,
unfortunately, was legal. This practice was challenged by creative and
persevering lawyers, such as Thomas Boodel, Jr., Marshall Patner, Tom
Sullivan, and John Tucker, all of whom followed the path started by the
author's father. (The record of Jenner & Block in representing the
Contract Buyers League over the years is one of our country’s greatest
stories of pro bono law firm commitment.)
Important figures make appearances but did not always agree on
tactics, including Saul Alinsky, Monsignor John Egan, Rabbi Robert J.
Marx, and Dempsey Travis (who is a Life Trustee of the Chicago History
Museum.) Here is the author's key insight: “The reason for the decline
of so many black urban neighborhoods into slums was not the absence of
resources but rather the riches that could be drawn from the seemingly
poor vein of aged and decrepit housing and hard-pressed but hardworking
and ambitious African Americans…The problem was not that racially
changing neighborhoods were unprofitable. On the contrary, the problem
was that the pickings were too easy, and the scale of profits too
tempting, for many of the city’s most prominent citizens – attorneys,
bankers, realtors, and politicians alike – to pass up.”
P.H., George F. Root, Civil War Songwriter: A Biography.
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. (2008).
President's Commentary: April 2009: George Root's
biography evokes a world that is very foreign to us, one when the
public was offered songs on topical subjects almost instantly. The only
analogy I can suggest is the speed that the day's news hits today's
late-night monologues. Some songs became instant hits and helped to
shape attitudes, such as "The Battle Cry of Freedom" and "Tramp, Tramp,
Tramp (the boys are marching)." More were of minor consequence (Root
used pseudonyms to write a song supporting each side in the
Root's publishing business was based in Chicago and he lived in Hyde
Park, but being in the music business meant an itinerant life, with
endless conventions and events around the country. Big names from
Chicago move through this book, including Dwight L. Moody (Root helped
to develop the concept of hymns to accompany Moody's Sunday School
movement), and Florenz Ziegfeld, Sr., who founded the Chicago Music
College (now part of Roosevelt University) as America's fourth music
conservatory. Root became its President in 1872. The account of Root's
recovery from the destruction of the Chicago Fire opens a new window on
business during that period in Chicago history.
Tom, Fighting Slavery in Chicago: Abolitionists, the Law of
Slavery, and Lincoln. Chicago: Ampersand, Inc. (2009).
President's Commentary: March 2009: New England did
not have a monopoly on abolitionism. Campbell masterfully reveals a
resourceful circle of activists who made Chicago their base. This group
influenced Lincoln, but the courage of Charles Volney Dyer and other
Chicago abolitionists stands on its own as a proud chapter in the
struggle against slavery.
Alop, Alan and Doc
Noel. The Best Team Ever: A Novel of America, Chicago, and the
1907 Cubs. Minneapolis, MN. Mill City Press (2008).
President's Commentary, February, 2009: This novel
lets the statistics speak for themselves in their contention that
“largely due to a great pitching staff, this team was the best ever.”
During the season, their opponents only scored 370 runs. The team’s ERA
for the 1908 season was “a phenomenal 1.73, the lowest team ERA in
baseball history. Five out of the top six lowest individual ERAs in
1907 were by Cubs…” The team finished the season seventeen games ahead
of runner-up Pittsburgh, and went on to win the World Series handily
against Detroit. Chicago won four games, Detroit none, and one game was
called a tie after darkness ended play. Apart from the tie game, the
Cubs allowed only three Detroit runs. Four team members made the Hall
of Fame (Mordecai Brown, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance).
1907 was the high point in a great run of National League pennants for
the Cubs that also included 1906, 1908, and 1910.
But this book is not about the statistics or even about a
play-by-play analysis of key games. Pay attention to what follows the
colon, because Best Team Ever is at
least as much about Chicago as it is about the 1907 Cubs. It does what
books about baseball so rarely do–convey a real sense of what it was
like to be a member of that team, during those times, and in that
place. No doubt, we can expect more novels from Chicago a century ago.
The combination of burgeoning growth, colorful politics and unsolved
crimes is a rich one. Let’s hope that, one glorious day, a novel about
the heyday of the Chicago Cubs will find a more contemporary
"University News," DePaul Magazine. Chicago: Department
of University Relations (fall 2008).
President's Commentary, January, 2009: This year,
DePaul dramatically expanded its physical presence on South State
Street with its acquisition of the historic Lytton Building at 14 E.
Jackson Blvd, helping DePaul to lead the way in making the South Loop
the largest "college town" in Illinois and surrounding states. A
request went out to the CHM Research Center for an image of the
building when it functioned as the flagship of the Lytton department
store. A photo from 1913 was found, showing the building's lower floor
windows shaded by striped awnings. The blow-up was used at the ceremony
announcing the purchase, and is reproduced in this article. This is
typical of the short-order requests that the Museum receives. This
particular issue of DePaul Magazine is remarkable
for its profile of Saint Vincent de Paul and how his legacy continues
to guide the global university, based in Chicago, that bears his
Gorn, Elliott J.,
ed. Sports in Chicago. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois
President's Commentary, December, 2008: This is one
of our own, a publication edited by Elliott J. Gorn with the
encouragement of the Chicago History Museum. Sports are a window to a
rich variety of social and economic histories, as we constantly
rediscover. Consider the titles of some of the book's articles:
"Baseball Palace of the World: Commercial Recreation and the Building
of Comiskey Park," and "The Plow the Broke the Midway: Bronko
Nagurski." My favorite is "Serbs, Sports, and Whiteness." Curator Peter
T. Alter traces how sports were used by Chicago's Serbian community to
develop a self-identity and to establish a profile in Chicago's
mainstream, at a time when suspicions of new immigrant groups had
racial and ethnic implications.
Simon. For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder
that Shocked Chicago. New York: HarperCollins (2008).
President's Commentary, November, 2008: You may be
relieved to learn that the book's title gets it wrong. This masterful
account is less about the crime than it is about the lawyers and the
courtroom drama. Such an account is long overdue. Simon Baatz's Darrow
displayed two consistent traits throughout his professional career: his
resourcefulness and his unrelenting opposition to the death penalty.
Darrow's opponent, Cook County State's Attorney Robert Crowe, is not
portrayed as a foil, but as a resourceful and ambitious lawyer. This is
a book for both lawyers and non-lawyers. In addition to his meticulous
research, the author knows how to tell a story.
Andrew. The Galloping Ghost: Red Grange, an American Football
Legend. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company (2008).
President's Commentary, October, 2008: College
football was popular and well-established when Red Grange starred for
the University of Illinois, but professional football was seen as a
kind of carnival freak show. That all changed when Grange went to play
for George Halas, the young owner of the Chicago Bears and a
"missionary" for what professional football could become. The third
indispensible ingredient was Charles C. Pyle, a theatre-owner in
Champaign and a promoter with a shadowy reputation. Grange's college
coach, Robert Zuppke, was disgusted at Grange's decision to go pro and
tried to talk him out of it, but what followed was the creation of a
pro football world with stars and loyal fans, a world that we would
recognize today. Still, the most interesting details about Grange
himself come from his college years, when working off-season as an
iceman in his hometown of Wheaton kept him in shape. On the day in 1924
when the University of Illinois stadium was dedicated, Grange scored
six touchdowns against the University of Michigan, a day that always
will be remembered in college football.
Campi I Valls,
Isabel. La idea y la meteria: Vol. 1: El diseño de producto en
sus origenes. Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Gustavo Gili, SL
President's Commentary, September, 2008: This
two-part work offers the Spanish-speaking audience both sources and
analysis for those who want to study product design. The focus
primarily is Europe and North America. The collection of the Chicago
History Museum appears with an 1880 print illustrating the different
stages of processing in the meat-packing business. This is seen as an
example of the assembly line, which already was used in the
meat-packing context well in advance of Henry Ford's innovations.
Including this book in our series is a reminder that our collection
also impacts international audiences, even if the subject area, in this
case, is not a surprise. (The chapter on Art Nouveau is particularly
interesting, as it explores whether this was art or design, a style or
a movement. Too bad the author did not draw on our collection for that
topic, as well!)
Andrew. Architect and Engineer: A Study in Sibling
Rivalry. New Haven: Yale University Press (2008).
President's Commentary, August, 2008: This is a
very important study of the line between the professions of
architecture and engineering. The juxtaposition, however, often is
expressed in terms of the artist and the engineer, with the architect
showing the artistic tendency. The Chicago story line is excellent,
beginning in 1844 with John Van Osdel, the city’s first professional
architect. There is particular attention to William LeBaron Jenney, who
is categorized as an architect, but one who breaks the mold by having
more practical training than any major American architect of his
generation. In Chicago, "Those like Jenney whose skills straddled
architecture and engineering came to the fore." The account of Chicago,
I am happy to say, has a wider sweep than steel framing, and also
includes innovations in fireproofing and foundations.
Aleksandar. The Lazarus Project. New York: Riverhead
President's Commentary, July, 2008: This is a
startling original novel by a Chicago author who was born in Sarajevo.
The novel depicts a Chicago author, also born in Sarajevo, who is
researching a book about an immigrant who came to Chicago only to be
shot by the chief of police in 1908. It was not enough for the author
in the novel to be immersed in Chicago of 100 years ago; he also
explored the immigrant's background by visiting Eastern Europe. The two
stories of author and subject, separated by 100 calendar years, circle
back on each other. As the name "Lazarus" suggests, the book is about
bringing the past to life and reimagining what cannot be seen.
Alongside contemporary photos, the book uses many historical photos
from the Chicago History Museum and draws on other material. Aleksandar
Hemon is the winner of a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation,
a status he could qualify for all over again, based solely on the
evidence of this one novel.
F. Mexican Chicago: Race, Identity, and Nation 1916-39.
Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press (2008).
President's Commentary, June, 2008: This important
book has three great strengths: its careful examination of the Mexican
background to emigration, the tight focus on immigrant life in Chicago,
and the contrast drawn between the identity formed by Mexicans in the
US and the trajectory noted by social scientists for European immigrant
groups. The jockeying for position among neighbors, such as relations
between Mexican and Polish immigrants, has a particular resonance for
Chicagoans. Given the challenges of racial issues in this period, it
should not come as a surprise that the status of Mexicans was often
mediated in racial, rather than ethnic, terms, with Mexicans often
marginalized as "not white." One fascinating observation was the
author's documentation of "adventure" as one important motivation for
immigration, on the part of Mexican women, as well as Mexican men.
O'Neill, Francis, with editors
Ellen Skerrett and Mary Lesch. Chief O'Neill's Sketchy
Recollections of an Eventful Life in Chicago. Evanston, IL:
Northwestern University Press (2008).
President's Commentary, May, 2008: After adventures
on the high seas as a sailor, Francis O'Neill emigrated from Ireland to
Chicago. Who could guess that this career police officer also would
become a pivotal figure in music history by meticulously collecting and
preserving traditional Irish music? With the publication of this book,
O'Neill also will take his place as an observer of life in Chicago.
O'Neill records so many encounters with the humble and the great that
anyone researching Chicago history from 1871 through 1905 needs to
consult this book. The depth of his thinking on issues of his time is
impressive, and issues such as political patronage reverberate today. A
truly remarkable life.
E. Stiched Together: Early American Samplers from the
Collections of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America
& Friends. Chicago, IL: The Chicago Cultural Center and The
Clarke House Museum (2007).
President's Commentary, April, 2008: The excellent
photography in this exhibition catalogue makes it possible to study the
individual stitches of the 71 featured samplers. The dates range from
1663–1862. There is a fine effort to tell what is known about each
girl, but, quite literally, the samplers speak for themselves. They
tell of different educational levels and reveal a range of world views.
There are some common themes, such as the alphabet, but there are
surprises, such as a map. The Chicago History Museum loaned two
samplers to this exhibition, both from Illinois. The exhibition
catalogue is not commercially available, you can order it through The
Chicago Cultural Center website at www.culturalcentershop.com.
Pucci, Kelly. Camp
Douglas: Chicago’s Civil War Prison. Charleston, SC: Arcadia
President's Commentary, March, 2008: As the
February 2009 bicentennial of Lincoln's birth approaches, expect to
find more books about Lincoln and the Civil War. Just as Andersonville,
the hellish prison in Georgia that incarcerated Union soldiers, is
well-known in the North, so Camp Douglas, the over-crowded and
disease-ridden prison in Chicago that held Conferate prisoners, is
well-known in the South. The images of the prisoners are few, but it is
haunting to see pictures of the prison itself and to think of its
location near the lake on Chicago's South Side. Nobody knows how many
Confederate soldiers died in Chicago's Camp Douglas, but there were at
least six thousand who did. Two former Chicago mayors were incarcerated
there: Levi Boone, a medical doctor, was arrested for passing legal
tender to Confederate prisoners, as part of what he characterized as a
humanitarian act. He was released after Lincoln sent a letter of
support. Buckner Stith Morris, arrested on suspicion of plotting a
prison break, was acquitted in a military court.
Laura. Conceiving Parenthood: American Protestantism and the
Spirit of Reproduction. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company (2007).
President's Commentary, February, 2008: How would a
provocative book by a "self-described pro-life feminist" make use of
the Chicago History Museum's collection? The answer is that there is a
long chapter focusing on images from Chicago's Century of Progress of
1933–34 that is at the center of the author's argument about the
application of new technologies to "scientific motherhood" and
child-rearing. She points, for example, to a popular exhibit at the
fair, the "Baby-Incubators," that featured "living babies." The Dairy
Industry's building reflected "the growing assumption regarding the use
of cows' milk for infant feeding," replete with imagery "in which both
mother and Mother Nature had been methodically supplanted." Official
material referred to: "The Dairy Building, where is portrayed the
foster mother of mankind, the cow." Books like this are a reminder that
the temporarily-constructed fantasy worlds of expositions and fairs,
with their peculiar intensity, continue to offer rich veins of material
for authors documenting a variety of viewpoints.
Bachrach, Julia S. and
Nathan, Jo Ann. Inspired by Nature. Chicago, IL: Garfield
Park Conservatory Alliance (2007).
President's Commentary, January, 2008: Garfield
Park Conservatory's 2008 centennial inspired this lushly-illustrated
book. It includes both historical pieces and stories from those who
have lived in the area. Architect William LeBaron Jenney leads off the
story with his plans for West Side boulevards and gardens and continues
to the Conservatory's present rebirth. Chicagoans' memories are fresh
of the dramatic reglazing project of 2003, which, for a time, made the
Palm House look like a dinosaur skeleton on display in a museum. I
loved reading about the double coconut trees, the "Mona Lisa of palms,"
which were moved after the reglazing to the center of the structure
where they would have room to grow. The forward by Alex Kotlowitz is a
Russick, John, (ed:
text and captions). Historic Photos of Chicago Crime the
Capone Era. Nashville, TN: Turner Publishing (2007).
President's Commentary, December 2007: The
editor—one of our own curators—rises to the challenge he sets for
himself to caption photographs about the Chicago underworld in the
1920s, "a place inhabited by characters who wished to remain anonymous,
who concealed their true identities and masqueraded as simple
businessmen or even defenders of the poor, and who conducted their
illicit trade behind closed doors to protect both themselves and their
customers." He succeeds by offering not only photo identification but
the wider urban context, both in the captions and in the introductory
materials. As you meet characters such as "Umbrella" Mike Boyle and
look in on funerals such as that of John "Dingbat" O'Berta, the editor
will not allow colorful names or romanticism to blind the reader to the
cost in human lives caused by this bygone era.
(ed.). Adlai Stevenson's Lasting Legacy. New York:
Palgrave MacMillan (2007).
President's Commentary, November 2007: This is a
dozen interrelated chapters written by statesmen, scientists,
colleagues, and supporters who served with Adlai E. Stevenson
II—Governor of Illinois, twice candidate for President and Ambassador
to the United Nations. This book appears at just the right time because
this is the last moment for a fresh look drawing on personal
recollections. The generation of those who worked at his side and knew
him is vanishing, and some of the best contributions, such as that of
Adelle Simmons, come from those who knew him when they were children.
It is sobering to consider that some of Stevenson's initiatives are
still in process, including a mobile peacekeeping U.N. strike force and
a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. The chapters dealing with the
bomb are a particular strength. He courageously urged a ban on further
hydrogen bomb testing during the 1956 presidential campaign, a proposal
later adopted and expanded upon by President Eisenhower. In advocating
limits on testing, Stevenson drew on the work of a wide-ranging number
of scientists and talked about threats to life on earth. This
pre-figured by 50 years the kind of advocacy regarding environmental
issues epitomized by Albert Gore.
Jacob, Mark and Richard
Cahan (in association with the Chicago History
Museum), Chicago Under Glass: Early Photographs from the
Chicago Daily News. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press
President's Commentary, October 2007: Yes, of
course—the visiting celebrities and the charming curiosities that you
expect to find in any photo album are here, but this is not an ordinary
photo album. This is a well-documented portrayal of the first three
decades of the 20th century, told with fabulous news photographs, but
also with searching commentary by the authors. Example: a photo of
immigrants packed up for their return to the old country from Chicago
evokes this commentary, "An enduring myth of American immigration is
that almost all new arrivals found their niche in this county. It's
true that the United States welcomed eighteen million new residents
between 1890 and 1920, but it also waved good-bye to millions who
either didn't like what they saw or were here only temporarily to make
money." That was true in many families of that era, and it remains true
for immigrant families today, but the phenomenon of the returning
immigrant never has been given its due by historians. You will get a
much better sense not only of the great Daily
Newsphotographers, but of the journalists and editors, such as
Henry Justin Smith, Ben Hecht and Carl Sandburg. Did you know that
Wrigley Field (originally Wheegman Park), was first built in less than
seven weeks in 1914? Or that the rooftops were packed at Comiskey Park
during the 1917 World Series? See the photos and believe! The series
with evangelist Billy Sunday modeling his athletic preaching style in
the basement of a Daily News photographer will make
you understand why being "the town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut
down" was such a remarkable feat that people still sing about it!
Louise, A History of Chicago: The Beginning of a City
1673-1848, From Town to City 1848-1871, and The Rise of
the Modern City 1871-1893. Chicago: The University of Chicago
Press (2007) (paperback reprint of three volumes published 1929 -
President's Commentary, September 2007: The
paperback reprinting of this history of Chicago's formative years is
very welcome. Credit given throughout by Pierce to the Chicago
Historical Society qualifies it as an "Author, Author!" entry for
September 2007, even though the actual work ended in the 1970s. (The
notes for her incomplete and unpublished fourth volume are available
for reference in our Research Center.) Her strength is the
comprehensive treatment of the subjects she addresses. Consider the
volume II chapter entitled, "The Quest for the Refinements of Life,"
which records the long list of educational and cultural establishments
founded during the remarkable decade of the 1850s, ranging from the
founding of universities such as Northwestern and Lake Forest,
institutions including the Chicago Academy of Sciences and the Chicago
Historical Society, as well as the Chicago YMCA, over 200 new schools
and many other examples of the quest for refinement—even the "Chicago
Sweeney, Kevin W.,
ed., Buster Keaton: Interviews. Jackson, MS. University
Press of Mississippi (2007).
President's Commentary, August 2007: Why would a
book about a Hollywood star cite our collection? The answer is Studs
Terkel, of course. The Museum has his taped legacy and counts Studs as
a staff member. The book includes the transcript of an interview of
Keaton by Studs from 1960. One passage discussed Keaton’s observation
that "there are just certain people you just don’t hit with a pie.
That’s all there is to it." Yes, you can throw a pie at a "grand dame
who is dogging it, and putting it on...but not an old lady and a
sincere character--you wouldn’t dare hit her." We even learn that back
in 1949, Studs played summer stock theater with Keaton in a play by
George Abbott. With the Studs Terkel archives, I often get the feeling
that we are only one degree of separation from the whole twentieth
Chappell, Sally A.
Kitt, Chicago's Urban Nature: A Guide to the City's
Architecture and Landscape. Chicago: The University of Chicago
President's Commentary, July 2007: This is a
rich book woven with many unexpected strands: gorgeous new photos and
historic images; hidden places around the city alongside fresh insights
on the familiar ones; maps and background pieces, along with captions
and essays. It ambitiously considers both architecture and landscape,
not simply as two related topics but as proof of the thesis that
architecture and landscape uniquely merged in nineteenth-century
Chicago. That merger is a dynamic process, and Chappell is unafraid to
make contemporary observations. Note to Chicago's Olympic Committee:
Here is Exhibit A for Chicago's status as a global city with long
experience in welcoming the world. Even back in the 1980s, "I found
members of nineteen different ethnic groups occupying a single acre [of
Lincoln Park] on a warm summer day. When presenting my findings, I
claimed that Lincoln Park had the greatest ethnic diversity of any park
in Chicago. My colleague, Kenneth Fidel, a sociologist, later told me I
had understated my case; I should have said 'in the world.'"
Durkin, Chicagoland: City and Suburbs in the Railroad
Age. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (2005).
President's Commentary, June 2007: The
subtitle understates the scope of this book, which also covers Chicago
and suburbs in the plank road age, the canal age and even the highway
age. It links rural sites to the metropolitan region and offers
critical tools for understanding the types of development that form the
whole -- not only the downtown, or the city's community areas, but
places that began as agricultural trade centers, satellite cities,
railroad commuter suburbs and recreational towns. I was particularly
please to see Keating sketch the history of picnic grounds and beer
gardens that used to dot the fringes of the city, the best known of
which evolved into Riverview Park.
Chicago 2016: Stir The
Soul. (DVD) for Chicago 2016 Committee. Chicago, IL. (2007).
President's Commentary, May 2007: If you have
any doubt that history is an integral part of Chicago's Olympic bid,
let me quote from the film: "This is a city that reversed the flow of a
river. A city that rose from the Great Fire of 1871. A city that works,
but also a city that plays…with world-class festivals, museums, sports
teams and more. Chicago has always been associated with fire. This
time, it would be at the end of an Olympic torch." The Chicago History
Museum is proud that its archives and images are playing a role in
Olympic history in the making.
Neal, Chicago in the Sixties: Remembering a Time of
Change. Chicago: Chicago's Books (2006).
President's Commentary, April 2007: What has
Newton Minow to do with Moose Skowron? Or Leon Despres to do with Dick
Biondi? They all figured in Chicago in the 1960s, and their interviews
all appear in this thought-provoking book. If the pairings listed above
create cognitive dissonance, then consider the lives that some of the
interviewees lived: Leonard Amari was the son of a bookie who lived in
public housing and became the honored President of the Illinois State
Bar Association. Others had colorful escapades during that turbulent
decade, but landed on their feet. Interviewees from different groups
often note circumstances that led their families to leave their
original neighborhoods, and it is striking how often they give the
names of their parishes and neighborhood schools. This was a decade
when those boundaries still meant more to many Chicagoans than
community area names do today. The photo selections are wonderful and
will bring back memories to those of us who remember the 1960s.
Lyons, Stephen and Llewellyn
M. Smith, Forgotten Genius, (a television documentary on
the life of Dr. Percy Julian, produced for Nova (PBS)) (2007).
President's Commentary, March 2007: Percy
Julian was born in 1899 Alabama and lived his most productive years in
Chicago as a pioneering organic chemist. He worked on a variety of
industrial applications, but he is best-known for his research on
alkaloids and steroids, including applications that offered cures for
diseases. Every step of the way, he encountered racial barriers,
including in post-World War II Oak Park, where his large home on East
Avenue was bombed when his children were at home with a baby-sitter and
Julian and his wife were out of town. The film combines historical
footage with dramatization, drawing on his own words. This documentary
also sets the standard for portraying complex scientific ideas in a way
that the educated viewer can understand.
J. Governor Henry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great
Depression. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press
President's Commentary, February 2007: Masters
brings a lawyer's understanding to solving the enigma that was Henry
Horner, who was Governor of Illinois from January 1933 through October
1940. Born to a well-do-do Jewish family, he had a great sympathy for
the common man. His relations with the political establishment were
complex. He rose from Probate Judge to Governor, but was unafraid to
take on both the Kelly-Nash organization and FDR. He was married to
public service, and spent his Sundays while Governor making surprise
visits to mental institutions, where he would visit patients and
compare purchase vouchers against supplies to see if there were any
discrepancies. A dedicated collector, his extensive Lincoln collection
is now among the treasures of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
This is a welcome and revealing account of a complex man. His story is
a true hidden gem of Illinois history.
Lewis, Russell (ed.:
text and captions). Historic Photos of Chicago.
Nashville: Turner Publishing Company (2006).
President's Commentary, January 2007: Our own
Chief Historian, Russell Lewis, provided the text for this
beautifully-produced volume with 200 images from the collection of the
Chicago History Museum. The oldest photos, of course, are the most
revealing, first of a city destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire and then
a city that often destroyed its landmarks as it continued to rebuild
itself. What I personally found most appealing was the last
chapter, The Modern Chicago, 1940-1970. This is the
city so many of us grew up with. A dramatic photo of a shining new
Prudential Building was just the way I remember it, before its taller
competitors arrived. The political leaders of the older generation are
there: Adlai Stevenson II and Richard J. Daley. The images of
Bronzeville, though, are a reminder that the worlds of Chicago in those
days did not always cross-over from neighborhood to neighborhood. This
is a striking and informative book.
Borzo, Greg, Suzanne
Haynes and Bernard Turner. The Windies' City. Chicago:
Highlights of Chicago Press (2006).
President's Commentary, December 2006: This is one
of our own, a lively look at Chicago’s hidden historical treasures by
the people who know where to look – the Chicago History Museum’s
volunteers. Each of the 26 sites includes: a description, why I
recommend visiting this site, highlights of the visit and three things
I learned. Because it is written by three individual volunteers, the
ideas are very personal. Follow the tour ideas in this book, and you
will feel that one of our guides is at your side.
Bruce, Susannah Ural.
The Harp and the Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union
Army, 1861-1865. New York: New York University Press (2006).
President's Commentary, November 2006: This book is
an example of how our collection at the Chicago History Museum can help
to illuminate a national story. The Irish and the Civil War risks
over-simplification when New York City’s draft riots are viewed as the
defining experience. That only was one of many, in a community that saw
150,000 of its own fight for the Union. The author brings to life the
issues of religious, ethnic and national identity through the reading
of letters and other personal accounts. Chicago and Illinois play a
vital part in the story, before, during and after the Civil War. While
the author says that Irish immigrants experienced more tolerance in the
Midwest than in the East, everything was relative. Abolitionist hero,
Elijah Lovejoy departed St. Louis for Illinois in 1836, blaming not
slaveholders, but the “foreign despotic influence of the Jesuits.” The
Irish community would not soon forget the support of the Republican
Chicago Tribune for the Know-Nothing candidate for mayor in
1855, support that was expressed in vituperative anti-Irish terms.
Nevertheless, when war broke out, a Chicago Irish-American, James A.
Mulligan, organized the 23rd Illinois, known as the “Irish Brigade.”
Its achievements sometimes were mixed, the author explains, because
toward the end of the war, it attracted new and very poor immigrants
whose motivation for enlistment was more financial than ideological.
This book will appeal not only to the Civil War buffs among us, but to
students of immigration and community identity.
Smith, Carl. The
Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American
City. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (2006).
President's Commentary, October 2006: If you think
you know the man, and you think you know the plan, what will startle
you about this account is the extent to which its proponents needed to
engage the broader community to achieve implementation. "The
Plan itself was forward-looking, but in some respects the
publicity techniques the planners used to generate support, especially
after its release, were even more innovative and modern." How could it
be otherwise, when between 1912 and 1913, Chicago voters approved some
86 plan-related bond issues? The Plan was reshaped into easy-to-digest
versions. Eighth-graders were targeted to be impressionable bearers of
the Plan's ideals. Is the contrast between the business elite that
supported the Plan and the average Chicagoan a false dichotomy? Not
entirely. When it came to improving the lives of working families, the
proponents of the city beautiful and the advocates of the eight-hour
work day were talking past each other. Nevertheless, when you hear the
Plan invoked in debates such as what to do with Meigs Field, remember
that the continuing power of the Plan owes much to the successful
efforts to promote the idea outside of the business circles. The
well-timed appearance of this book will shape our understanding of
Burnham's Plan of Chicago as we head into its centenary in 2009.
Marsh, Robert C.,
with Norman Pellegrini. 150 Years of Opera in Chicago. DeKalb:
Northern Illinois Press (2006).
President's Commentary, September 2006: Readers of
Robert C. Marsh -- for 35 years music critic of the Chicago Sun-Times
-- will see this as a capstone to a marvelous career, but it is more
than that. This is an original work, not a collection of critical
pieces. It combines scholarship and judgment, not only on the artistry
of opera in Chicago over 150 years, but also on the business of the
arts: "both filled boxes and a packed gallery are essential for a firm
base of operations." For those who agree with Marsh that "an opera
house is a constant invitation to personal growth and discovery," the
book will offer fresh insights. The listing of all the operas offered
at Chicago's major opera companies from 1850 - 2005, both by composer
and by year, is an important new reference tool.
Crimmins, Jerry. Fort
Dearborn. Evanston: Northwestern University Press (2006).
President's Commentary, August 2006: The author
portrays a very complex world, part French, part British, part
American, part Native American. He shows how even this remote outpost
and the surrounding communities were roiled by larger forces affecting
the region and the nation. This is a captivating story, and even the
experts on the early history of Chicago will find fresh insights.
Blakely, Robert J. with Marcus
Shepard. Earl B. Dickerson: A Voice for Freedom and Equality.
Evanston: Northwestern University Press (2006).
President's Commentary, July 2006: If you want to
deepen your understanding of the forces that transformed Chicago during
the twentieth century, begin with this excellent biography. Longevity
is one reason: Dickerson's life spanned 1891 to 1986. He first arrived
in Chicago from Mississippi in 1907 — nine years before historians date
the beginning of the Great Migration. His list of affiliations is
another: board member of the national NAACP, President of the Chicago
Urban League almost continuously from 1939-1955, and member of
President Franklin Roosevelt's first Fair Employment Practices
Commission, among many other posts. All of these are notable, but what
makes Dickerson's life so illuminating is that he was a moving force in
so many different sectors. Yes, lawyers are often aldermen, and lawyers
sometimes are businessmen, but how many insurance company executives
have been civil rights activists? Dickerson was all of these, and he
also handled a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court:
Hansberry v. Lee. This 1940 decision ended racially
restrictive covenants on Chicago's South Side.
Ascoli, Peter M. Julius
Rosenwald: The Man Who Built Sears, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of
Black Education in the American South. Bloomington: Indiana
University Press (2006).
President's Commentary, June 2006: How provocative
Rosenwald's ideas still are. He seems to have invented modern
philanthropy. His emphasis on challenge grants and his focus on social
impact remind me very much of today's Young Turks among philanthropic
families who oftern turn to causes that will have social impact and
turn away from traditional charities and familiar approaches to
endowment. Meticulously researched and well written, the book's
judgments about personalities are well-grounded and its handling of
complex topics masterful.
Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power. New York: Alfred A.
President's Commentary, May 2006: There never will
be an end to important new books about Lincoln. This is one of the best
of the new books because of its fresh insights. For example, Carwardine
examines how a man who paid a political price for not being a church
member nevertheless was shaped by the Calvinist doctrines of his
childhood and by the prevailing religious attitudes of his time. He may
not have believed in the Trinity, but he believed in Providence and his
religious outlook and language evolved over time, just as his views on
slavery and other important matters also evolved. The book also
includes the clearest charting I have ever seen of the very confusing
sea changes in political parties and coalitions. Carwardine mines
interactions with the many individuals and delegations that called on
him at the White House to record the information that Lincoln must have
received on a daily basis and also to underline the importance of these
interactions to Lincoln as a consummate communicator. Such meetings
generally are dismissed by historians as a nuisance and a distraction
from more important matters, but it should not surprise us that the
many hours that Lincoln chose to spend in this way are quite revealing
to a patient and thorough historian.
Wasik, John F. The
Merchant of Power: Sam Insull, Thomas Edison, and the Creation of the
Modern Metropolis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2006).
President's Commentary, April 2006: This book will
help the reader to make sense of the city we live in because we are
still living in the world that Insull helped to create. I am not
speaking only of the electrical generators and the infrastructure, such
as the South Shore Railroad, but also the world of finance and the
world of consumerism. We also live in a city full of reactions against
Insull's world. In the utility reformers of his day — including
economist and later Senator, Paul Douglas — we can see a straight line
to reform groups such as the Citizens Utilities Board. When his empire
collapsed and Insull was brought to trial in Chicago amid death
threats, you can see a haunting resemblance to the trial of the top
Enron executives. (Insull was found not guilty on all charges, by the
way.) My only quarrel is that the subject and his world are too large
for a short book. There is so much to tell that every account leaves
the reader wanting even more.
Waldheim, Charles and
Katerina Ruedi Ray, eds. Chicago Architecture: Histories,
Revisions, Alternatives. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,
President's Commentary, March 2006: The seminal
article in this collection is Robert Bruegmann's "Myth of the Chicago
School." It takes up the editors' challenge to offer alternatives to
the story line we all know so well of the Chicago school of
architecture, particularly with his analysis of Holabird & Roche's
Marquette Building. The building's on-going renovation underlines his
point by revealing more and more of the ornamental and
classically-inspired features that have been glossed over in telling
the familiar story of form and function in Chicago. David Van Zanten
tells of "The Centrality of the Columbian Exposition in the History of
Chicago Architecture" — a heretical title to the storytellers of
"progressive functionalism." Robert A. Sobieszek gives the
architectural photography of Hedrich-Blessing its due, with its
"consummate photographic artistry, verve, and authority." Its
photographs of the Century of Progress reveal "the visual exuberance,
the flare for the operatic, and the essential spirit of futurism that
is shared by both image and building." Thank goodness that
Hedrich-Blessing continues to capture our city's new architecture, with
its "consummate photographic artistry, verve, and authority"! Who would
have guessed that my father's boyhood church, St. Luke's Lutheran
Church in Park Ridge, was the largest commission for Elisabeth A.
Martini, at the time the only woman architect licensed in private
practice in Illinois? Martini ran an advertisement in 1921: "Only girl
architect lonely. Wanted — to meet all the women architects in Chicago
to form a club." Susan F. King focuses on Martini as "emblematic of the
cyclical pattern of women in America of alternating progress and
Venet, Mary Hamand.
A Strong-Minded Woman, The Life of Mary Livermore. Amherst,
MA: University of Massachusetts Press (2005).
President's Commentary, February 2006: Venet's
portrayal of an activist who was just below the top bracket in the
women's sufferage movement offers many insights into women's studies,
as well as Chicago and national themes. Married to a Universalist
minister, she arrived in Chicago in 1857. She and her husband edited
New Covenant, a newspaper devoted to social activism, and
later Agitator, dedicated to women's rights. She was
conspicuous as the only woman on the floor and the only female
journalist at the press tables at the 1860 convention in Chicago's
Wigwam that nominated Lincoln for President. She broke the taboo that
women could not give a public address. Her work in Chicago during the
Civil War is particularly revealing, demonstrating how wartime
transformed the lives of strait-laced women into lives of activism that
quickly found a focus in the post-war women's sufferage movement and
also in many other reform causes. She met with President Lincoln and
persuaded him to donate the original Emancipation Proclamation to be
auctioned at a grand fair of the Northwestern Sanitary Commission, held
in 1863 to raise funds for medical relief for the troops. The highest
bidder donated it to the Chicago Historical Society, but, alas, it was
destroyed during the Great Chicago Fire.
Joseph, Frank S. To
Love Mercy. Huntington, WV: Mid-Atlantic Highlands (2006).
President's Commentary, January 2006: What happens
when urban worlds collide? In Tom Wolfe's The Bonfires of the
Vanities, what emerged was a grotesque entertainment set in New
York. To Love Mercy is something very different: a portrait of
scences of 1940s Chicago — from Riverview Park to the South Side — with
a focus on two boys: one from Bronzeville and one from Hyde Park. The
voices are authentic and the details are carefully researched, though
the story line is a kind of fantasy. Chicagoans who remember the
forties, fifties or sixties will recognize their city. They will relish
some of the memories, but others will make them uncomfortable. The book
relies heavily on the Douglas/Grand Boulevard Community oral history
project, available at the Chicago History Museum.
Bingham, Dennis with
Russell A. Schultz. A Proud Tradition: A Pictorial History of the
Chicago Police Department. Chicago: An Official Publication of the
Chicago Police Department. (2005).
President's Commentary, December 2005: The photos
bring the history to life, but this is not simply a picture book. The
text is well-written and well documented. The department was created
officially in 1835; before then, the garrison of Fort Dearborn offered
some protection to the citizens, along with a town crier and occasional
visits by a county constable. The book does not shy away from some
controversial subjects, such as the Haymarket Riot. The photos remain
the heart of the book and reveal important aspects of Chicago's social
history. The photo of the suspect standing on one leg while his foot is
being measured according to the exacting standards of the French
criminologist, Alphonse Bertillion, is one of this book's many