Playlist History


Mary Field Parton and Ruby Hammerstrom Darrow in a black-and-white image

The Little-Known Social Worker and Writer Who Embodied Chicago’s Role as a “Cauldron” for Social Movements

Though the history books rarely mention her, social worker and avant-garde writer Mary Field Parton embodies Chicago's role as a focal point of political and social movements. 
Father Augustus Tolton in 1887

The First Black Catholic Priest—a Candidate for Sainthood—and His Importance to Chicago

Father Augustus Tolton escaped slavery in Missouri to become the first openly recognized Black Catholic priest, ministering in Quincy, Illinois and establishing the first standalone Black Catholic church in Chicago. While there are currently no African American saints, he is currently a candidate for sainthood.
The Landlord's Game

The Woman Who Invented Monopoly (Sort of)

The Illinoisan and Chicagoan Lizzie Magie invented a board game at the turn of the twentieth century as a teaching tool on behalf of anti-land ownership ideals. It later influenced Monopoly. Discover her story in an excerpt from a new American Experience documentary on Monopoly. 
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial in Chicago's Marquette Park

Eight Things to Watch and Read on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, and his birthday is honored as a federal holiday. Celebrate the civil rights hero in a variety of stories about his legacy, time in Chicago, and more. 
John Larson (left) and August Vollmer interrogate an unknown Berkeley undergraduate in 1921 or 1922

Why America Is the Only Country That Embraced the Lie Detector—and Chicago’s Role in Its Rise

The technology behind the lie detector is basic and available around the world, but only America has used it extensively over the decades, thanks in part to pioneering work in forensics in Chicago that attempted to address the city's notorious crime.
A holiday card with a horse-drawn carriage and poem

Get in the Spirit with Vintage Holiday Cards from the Chicago History Museum

From dogs in sweaters offering each other gifts to "Dickensian Christmas" scenes to personalized illustrations of graphic design and avant-garde art, the holiday cards in the Chicago History Museum's collection showcase a broad array of styles, and reveal how similar we are to people of the past.
Street scene at Chicago Theatre near State and Randolph Streets, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 1952. Photo: Chicago History Museum, ICHi-019349; J. Sherwin Murphy, photographer

Revisiting the Biting Articles That Branded Chicago the "Second City"

Seventy years ago, the New Yorker writer and New York City native A.J. Liebling published a series of articles about Chicago that saw the city as a "not-quite-metropolis" imbued with a "collective sense of disappointment." Was he right?
The U.S. Capitol

How to Watch the Next January 6 Committee Hearing, Likely Its Last

The U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is holding its next public hearing on Monday, December 19 at 12:00 pm CT. The hearing will likely be the last held by the committee, which is expected to release its final report on December 21.

A 1943 Marshall Field's holiday window display shows Santa in his workshop. Image: HB-07690-D, Chicago History Museum, Hedrich-Blessing Collection

Photo of the Week: A 1943 Marshall Field’s Christmas Window Display

Take a look back at a Marshall Field's Christmas window display from 1943, and discover the history of the displays. 
Eliza Scarlet in season 2 of Miss Scarlet and the Duke

Chicago's Early Female Detectives, Real-Life Analogues to Miss Scarlet

Eliza Scarlet of Miss Scarlet and the Duke may be fictional, but she does have a few real-life historical analogues of trailblazing female detectives and forensics experts, including in Chicago. 
An aerial view of the Elijah Lovejoy Monument in Alton, Illinois

On This Day in Illinois History: Alton Abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy Killed By Mob

On November 7, 1837, an abolitionist named Elijah Parish Lovejoy was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois.

A drawing of Elijah LovejoyElijah Lovejoy

The Eternal Silence sculpture, pictured here in 1977. The black-and-white image shows a hooded sculpture set against a slab of black granite. Image: ST-40001541-0009, Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum

The Eerie Legend of Graceland Cemetery’s “Eternal Silence” Statue

An eerie sculpture near the grave of an early Chicago settler at Graceland Cemetery comes with a spooky legend. 
Runners making their way through the Chicago Marathon course in 1992. Image: ST-10002838-0014, Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum

A Brief History of Marathons in Chicago

Ahead of this weekend's Chicago Marathon, take a brief look at the history of long-distance running in Chicago, including the story of how a swing bridge interrupted the very first marathon in the city. 
The January 6th Hearings PBS NewsHour

How to Watch the Next January 6th Committee Hearing

The House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol is holding its next public hearing on September 28, and PBS NewsHour is again offering live coverage. Find ways to watch here.
Upton Sinclair pictured as an adult; year unknown.

Celebrate Upton Sinclair’s Birthday with 7 Looks at the Impact of His Work

Writer and muckraker Upton Sinclair was born on this day 144 years ago. He was a prolific writer and political activist whose most notable work, The Jungle, had a transformative impact on the meatpacking industry in Chicago and nationwide. 
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