Finding African American Roots

March 17th, 2015by Peter Alter Filed under: Collections, Stories

DePaul University students Callie Bretthauer, Nikki Camp, Matt Siek, Mariam Usmani, and Kara Zelasko talked with members of the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio (KIO) Study Group of the Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago (AAGHSC) for this entry in the Museum’s People and Places series. They were students of the Museum’s archivist, Peter T. Alter, as a part of DePaul’s public history program.

Dr. Adlean Harris and Muriel Wilson founded the AAGHSC in 1979. They had noticed the lack of African American genealogical research groups in Chicago and wanted to address the inherent challenges in African American genealogical research. With that in mind, the AAGHSC set out to “preserve and perpetuate records of African American ancestry and to encourage the study of African American history and genealogy.”

KIO_3 copy-1
KIO members (from left): Dr. Cheryl Gaines, Angela McGhee, Nettie Nesbary, Thomas Tracy, and Bonita Wood.

> Read the rest of this entry

A CHM Western Wear Treasure

February 27th, 2015by Guest Blogger Filed under: Collections, Stories

Costume collections manager Jessica Pushor writes about a fine example of western wear from the Museum’s costume collection.

Western wear and high-quality custom tailoring may not seem like they go hand in hand, but there was a time when western wear provided some of the finest examples of Old World tailoring techniques. While searching for a 1970s men’s dress shirt to pair with the Pucci suit in Chicago Styled, we unearthed this Nathan Turk shirt.

Men’s western wear shirt worn by Philip K. Wrigley, c. 1960. Gift of William Wrigley III, 1979.180.23. All photographs by CHM staff.

> Read the rest of this entry

The Roosevelts

February 25th, 2015by Gary Johnson Filed under: Stories

February 2015: In his Author! Author! blog series, Museum president Gary T. Johnson highlights works that draw on our collection.


Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf (2014).

This is the companion piece to the television series. The best reason for owning this very large volume is being able to savor the rich collection of archival photographs that have become Ken Burns’s trademark. Spoiler alert: Teddy is even more fascinating than we remember; Franklin, even more complicated; and Eleanor, even more influential.

> Preview the PBS television series

> Read more about FDR’s New Deal and its impact on Chicago

> Glimpse Theodore Roosevelt during his 1917 visit to Chicago

> Learn more about Author! Author!

Lincoln and the Power of the Press

February 19th, 2015by Gary Johnson Filed under: Stories

In his Author! Author! blog series, Museum president Gary T. Johnson highlights works that draw on our collection.

Holzer cover

Harold Holzer. Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion. New York: Simon & Schuster (2014).

We can be very grateful that Harold Holzer, one of the foremost Lincoln scholars, has written about the power of the press when, in today’s content-glutted world, that phrase almost seems like an oxymoron. Holzer begins with Lincoln as a boy and young adult reading every newspaper he could get his hands on. In a parallel story, Holzer turns to another child who grew up in a log cabin, Horace Greeley, whose life as a journalist would intertwine with Lincoln’s. Another key figure was Joseph Medill, the co-owner and managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, who did so much to promote Lincoln as a credible national leader of the Republican Party. As we have come to expect from Holzer, we also learn about less prominent figures on the local scene who, nevertheless, were critical to Lincoln’s rise to prominence, including the owners of Springfield’s Sangamo Journal.

> Discover more of Harold Holzer’s work

> Learn more about Author! Author!

What Didn’t Make the Cut

January 12th, 2015by Katy Werlin Filed under: Collections, Exhibitions

In honor of Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile®, the Museum blog will publish a series of posts highlighting the stores, garments, designers, donors, and urban developments featured in the exhibition.

Planning an exhibition such as Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile® requires combing through the entire costume collection to find the most appropriate garments. We start this process by looking through our collection database and old catalog cards and then pulling the actual garments from storage to examine in person. For Chicago Styled, we pulled over one hundred garments out of storage for consideration. Only twenty-six of them made the final cut, so here is a peek of three pieces that were not selected.

Evening dress by Halston, 1978. Gift of Mrs. Philip Handmacher. 1982.139.1ab. All photographs by CHM Staff.

> Read the rest of this entry