Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

December 2nd, 2014by Petra Slinkard Filed under: Collections, Stories

Curator Petra Slinkard and intern Claire Arnold explore the Chicago origins of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Cover of an original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer written for Montgomery Ward & Co. by Robert L. May and illustrated by Denver Gillen, 1939. 1989.708. ICHi-68483

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Making Television

November 19th, 2014by Peter Alter Filed under: Stories

DePaul University students Bryant Arvesen, Sekordri Lewis, Ryan McGovern, and Kasia Szymanska talked to Michael “Mickey” Loewenstein about his work as a set designer for WTTW, Chicago’s public television station, 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.

Sitting with us in his home, Michael Loewenstein started by telling us about his early years working at WTTW, where he began in 1959. The late 1950s marked the end of the Chicago School of Television. Loewenstein remembered this era “as a student of the Chicago School of Television from its very beginning … The Chicago School produced something that was not movies and not theater, but something that was distinctly television.”

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In the Beginning: Blum’s Vogue

November 5th, 2014by Katy Werlin Filed under: Collections, Exhibitions, Stories

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.

“The woman who is clever is not a slavish follower of style. She never clings blindly to an arbitrarily prescribed fashion. Individuality is a much more important result to strive for than mere newness.” —Harry H. Blum, Within the Portals

Blum’s Vogue was a specialty department store founded by Harry and Becky Blum in Chicago in 1910. The original store was simply called Blum’s and was located in the Congress Hotel, then home to Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel Barrymore, and other famous theatrical stars of the day. Blum’s quickly became successful, and shortly thereafter the Blums opened a second store, Vogue, a few doors down. While Blum’s sold ready-to-wear clothes, Vogue sold custom-made garments. In 1924, the Blums bought their own building at 624 S. Michigan Avenue and began extensive renovations. Finally, in 1930, they moved to their new premises and combined their two stores into one: Blum’s Vogue. Blum’s Vogue was enormously successful, expanding to several locations in Chicago and eventually nationwide. It wasn’t until 1983 when the last store in the chain finally closed.

In 1923, Blum’s and Vogue released Within the Portals, a promotional booklet written by Harry Blum. It offered a behind-the-scenes look at how garments were either bought or designed, constructed, and sold to the women of Chicago. Moreover, it expounded on the guiding philosophies of the company. Because of this, Within the Portals is a valuable resource documenting retail practices in the early 1920s and provides a glimpse into Chicago’s development into an important location for fashion.

The Vogue shop illustrated in Within the Portals. Chicago History Museum.

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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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