The 1968 Exhibit

October 29th, 2014by Joy Bivins Filed under: Collections, Exhibitions, Stories

Curator Joy L. Bivins invites everyone to explore the Museum’s latest offering, The 1968 Exhibit.

In case you haven’t heard, The 1968 Exhibit is now on view at the Chicago History Museum. This unique traveling exhibition takes a look at one of the most turbulent years in American history and features stories and objects from across the nation. The show, which originated at the Minnesota History Center, is organized as a month-by-month walkthrough of some of the year’s most significant events, from the United States’ increased participation in the Vietnam War and the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to the mayhem that erupted at the Democratic National Convention and the rise of black power.

One of the key stories is of the escalating American casualties in the Vietnam War.

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Serbian American Museum St. Sava

October 7th, 2014by Peter Alter Filed under: Collections, Stories

DePaul University students Jeff Buchbinder, Haley McAlpine, Caelin Niehoff, Sam Toninato, and Wynn VanHaren met with Vesna Noble of the Serbian American Museum St. Sava in Chicago for this entry in the Museum’s People and Places series. They were students of the Museum’s archivist, Peter T. Alter, as part of DePaul’s public history program.

The Serbian American Museum St. Sava (SAMS) is in a quiet residential neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. The museum’s home is literally a home—a house built in 1905. Its location and physical space reflect the intimacy of Chicago’s Serbian American community. “When I first walked in here, I just loved the building,” Vesna Noble remarked. As an organizer and influential member of SAMS, she shared with us the museum’s history and Serbian culture.

Serbian American Museum St. Sava, 448 West Barry Avenue. All photographs by DePaul students.

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Chicago River Bridges

September 26th, 2014by Gary Johnson Filed under: Stories

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


Patrick T. McBriarty. Chicago River Bridges. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press (2013).

The specialist will appreciate the definitive account of each Chicago River bridge (including the bridges that have been replaced), and the wider public will appreciate the reflections on the role of bridges and the impact of their design and engineering on urban life. For those interested in Chicago history, this is a must–read, and the author’s insights should be of interest to any student of architecture and urban history.

> Read more about and purchase this book

> Learn more about Patrick T. McBriarty’s research and works

> Discover more about bridges in Chicago

> Museum members will have a chance to hear Patrick T. McBriarty speak about bridges at the Members’ Meeting in November!

Fixing More than Teeth

September 22nd, 2014by Joy Bivins Filed under: Collections, Exhibitions, Stories

Curator Joy Bivins explains why these dental tools aren’t as intimidating as they appear.

Syringe, mirror and probe, dental model, and color scale used by Dr. Charles Williams Sr. in his practice, mid–twentieth century. Gift of Dr. Charles Williams Jr., 2002.267. ICHi–68430

Few people enjoy a trip to the dentist or the sight of dental tools, but these objects have a story to tell. They belonged to Charles Williams Sr. (1901–90), a pioneering Chicago–based dentist who treated patients at offices on the city’s South and West Sides. Dr. Williams’s practice spanned multiple decades, but his career began at a time when racial discrimination was routine. Williams worked to end that discrimination and open doors within his professional field.

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Nailed It: Chicago Commons Map, 1910

September 11th, 2014by Peter Alter Filed under: Collections, Stories

DePaul University students Burton Cann, Bristol Cave, Kristen Gayer, Hannah Woodford, and Elise Zerega researched an unusual map from 1910 for this entry in the Museum’s People and Places blog series. They were students of the Museum’s archivist, Peter T. Alter, as part of DePaul’s public history program.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, community leaders in major cities sought to resolve many social, political, and economic problems associated with urban living. Their efforts came to be known as the Progressive Movement. Some Progressive reformers addressed social justice issues by settling in struggling urban areas and establishing social settlement houses in those neighborhoods, as Jane Addams did with Hull-House on Chicago’s Near West Side.  From these community centers, the reformers worked with their neighbors to address unemployment, poor public education, poor sanitation, domestic violence, and many other issues.

Graham Taylor, a colleague and friend of Addams, founded the Chicago Commons settlement house in 1894, about a mile northwest of the Loop. Taylor and the Chicago Commons staff worked with the people of this industrial and immigrant neighborhood, now known as the River West and Noble Square neighborhoods. To understand a neighborhood and its needs, reformers like Taylor strove to learn their surroundings, which often led to mapping a lot of districts. In 1910, the Commons staff crafted a unique map of wood, small nails, and paper. This cartographic creation has survived over a century and is part of the Chicago Commons Association Records in the Museum’s archival collection.

Chicago Commons nail map, 1910
Chicago Commons nail map, 1910. All photographs by DePaul University students.

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