Playlist History


The Great Chicago Fire, Image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

Revisiting the Great Chicago Fire 149 Years Later

The Great Chicago Fire: A Chicago Stories Special reveals new details with recreations and animation that bring the fire to life. Executive producer Dan Protess and producer and writer Peter Marks talked about their approach to telling the old story in a new way.
Margaret Burroughs

“Chicago, I Love You!” Margaret Burroughs’ Creative Legacy in Chicago

Margaret Burroughs, an influential Chicago artist, poet, and teacher, established two of the city's important cultural institutions: the South Side Community Arts Center and the DuSable Museum of African American History.
Rudy Lozano Elementary School

Rudy Lozano's Multigenerational Legacy and the Growing Power of Chicago's Latino Community

Rudy Lozano sought more political power for Latinos in Chicago, and although his life was cut short, his legacy lives on in his friends and family members who continue his political campaigns and activism. 
The First Battle of the Marne in 1914

Drawing Lessons from the History of War

“It’s tempting to think that military history is just about, ‘Here’s a tank, it does X, Y, and Z.’ But essentially, for good or ill, war is a huge catalyst of change," says the president of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, which has a new series called This Week in Military History.
The steel Puerto Rican flag over Division Street in Humboldt Park. Photo: Richie Diesterheft/Wikimedia Commons

Chicago's 1966 Division Street Riot

While it has been overshadowed by other unrest of the late '60s in Chicago, the Division Street riot was an important point in the history of Chicago's Puerto Rican community, drawing attention to issues faced by the community. 
A postcard of Chicago's Old Main Post Office, from 1941. Image: Curt Teich postcard/Wikimedia Commons

Chicago's Postal History and the Meltdown That Led to Reforms

A huge backlog of mail in Chicago in 1966 caused long delays and led to bipartisan reforms of the postal service. Chicago's role was unsurprising, given that it was an important part of the national postal system, which had also contributed to the city's growth. 
Leontyne Price on WTTW's 'Callaway Interviews' in 1981

From the Archive: Leontyne Price

"It's never been the Black artist's problem, it has been other people's problem," the legendary Leontyne Price told WTTW in 1981 about the lack of Black artists, specifically in opera. "It's so simplistic, it's fairly ridiculous." Watch excerpts of the archival interview. 
The Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge in Milwaukee

Milwaukee's Long Legacy of Socialism

Although the Democratic National Convention will be virtual, Milwaukee is still the nominal host. Chicago's neighbor to the north has a long history of elected socialist leaders, an appropriate background in the era of Bernie Sanders and other progressives.
The Illinois State Capitol building. Photo: Erica Gunderson

A Short History of Corruption in Illinois

Stories of corruption amongst politicians in Illinois and Chicago could fill a book—and they have. As federal investigations close in on some of the state's most powerful people, revisit the last half century or so of corruption in the city and state. 
Nella Larsen in 1928. Photo: James Allen/Library of Congress, Harmon Foundation Records, Manuscript Division.

The Novelist Nella Larsen's Life Between Worlds

Nella Larsen existed in disparate worlds, never quite finding her place: born to a Danish mother and West Indian father in a Chicago vice district, she eventually became a part of the Harlem Renaissance and Black professional class, producing a neglected classic novel. 
A team publicity photo for the Chicago American Giants in 1919. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chicago's Starring Role in the Creation of Baseball's Negro Leagues, 100 Years Ago

Chicago looms large in the creation of baseball's Negro Leagues, for reasons both positive and negative. One influential player-manager spearheaded the creation of the Negro National League 100 years ago; another helped solidify the sport's color line decades earlier.
Gloria Steinem

From the Archive: Gloria Steinem Reflects on Gender, Race, and the Future of the Women’s Movement

We visit the WTTW archives with two interviews with feminist leader, journalist, and political activist Gloria Steinem.
Lucy Parsons in 1886. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chicago's 'Anarchist Queen'

Lucy Parsons was full of contradictions: an anarchist who defended marriage, a Black woman born into slavery who claimed her dark skin came from Mexican and Native American ancestry, a supporter of rights for women who didn't trust elections and thus never aligned herself with suffragists.
The Legacy Walk

Walking Through LGBTQ History in Boystown

A series of bronze plaques on the famous rainbow pylons in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood make up the Legacy Walk – an outdoor museum highlighting the historical and cultural contributions of LGBTQ people.
A portrait of Jovita Idár from 'Unladylike2020.' Artwork by Amelie Chabannes

Celebrating the 'Unsung Women Who Changed America' a Century Ago

American Masters: Unladylike2020 encompasses a documentary and series of video profiles of 26 little-known women from the turn of the twentieth century who were pioneers in their fields and fought for civil rights.
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