History

Frederick Douglass was the representative of Haiti at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Image (of Douglass): Chicago History Museum

Frederick Douglass's Defiant Stand at Chicago's World's Fair

Although Frederick Douglass did not know his official birth date, he celebrated it on February 14. Late in his life, he spent a year in Chicago serving as the most prominent advocate for African Americans in a World's Fair that largely excluded them.
Won Kow, Chicago's oldest continously operated Chinese restaurant, closed on February 1 after 90 years

Chicago's Oldest Continuously Operated Chinese Restaurant Closes

Won Kow was opened in 1928, only a couple of decades after Chicago's Chinatown moved from the Loop to the Southwest Side. It was a favorite of Al Capone, according to legend, and served as a barely changing anchor of the neighborhood.
An engraving of the Haymarket Affair from Harper's Weekly

The Clash of Wealth and Labor in Chicago's Gilded Age

Chicago epitomized the contradictions of late nineteenth century America, with its explosive growth and exorbitant wealth contrasting with abject squalor and a burgeoning labor movement. The two poles infamously came to a head several times in Chicago.
Carter G. Woodson, the "father of black history." Image: Library of Congress

The Father of Black History

It's thanks to Carter G. Woodson (whose name graces a prominent Chicago library) that we have Black History Month, and he was foundational in studies of African American history. He fought to reform education and spread knowledge of black American's proud past.
Ann Curry by the Statue of Liberty in We'll Meet Again. Photo: David Turnley

The Fairytale Romance and Reunion That Inspired Ann Curry's New Show

In We'll Meet Again, Ann Curry helps reunite people who met during world-altering events. She herself is the product of a life-changing meeting, between her American soldier father and Japanese mother. Their incredible story is "Romeo and Juliet, Japanese style."
Lorraine Hansberry with her typewriter. Photo: David Attie

Lorraine Hansberry and the House That Inspired 'A Raisin in the Sun'

The essential play A Raisin in the Sun is based on its playwright Lorraine Hansberry's own experience as a child moving into an all-white Chicago neighborhood, a situation that produced a Supreme Courrt case. Revisit the story here.
Joel Weisman on Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review

'Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review' Celebrates 40 Years with Joel Weisman

On the 40th anniversary of Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review tonight, its host and one of its creators Joel Weisman steps down. Joel recalls memorable incidents and more.
Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. on WTTW

From the Archive: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Widow Coretta Scott King

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, listen to the woman who helped make the civil rights leader's birthday a federal holiday, as Coretta Scott King discusses her husband's sense of humor and legacy, as well as the structural problems undergirding racism.
James Baldwin in the crowd. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 28 August 1963, Washington. Photo: Dan Budnik

From the Archive: James Baldwin in Conversation with Studs Terkel

"I want to be an honest man, and I want to be a good writer," James Baldwin tells Studs Terkel in this eloquent and incisive conversation from 1961. He achieved both, in his clear-eyed writing and speaking about America and race, as is brilliantly obvious here.
Theodore Roosevelt, Candido Rondon and camaradas sitting in camp, 1914. Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Brazilian Explorer Who Saved Theodore Roosevelt's Life

In 1913, Theodore Roosevelt set off on a journey down a river in the Amazonian jungle. The expedition was led in part by one of the little-known heroes of modern Brazil: the explorer and advocate for indigenous peoples Cândido Rondon.
Oprah Winfrey on WTTW's Callaway Magazine in 1984

From the Archive: An Interview with Oprah at the Beginning of Her Fame

Sunday night at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey gave a galvanizing acceptance speech after being granted a lifetime achievement award. See what she was like just as her career was taking off with a morning talk show, in a 1984 interview on WTTW.
The Washington Post published its first issue on December 6, 1877

Defining Moments of The Washington Post's 140-Year History

The Washington Post published its first issue 140 years ago on December 6. Over its long history, it has given us a memorable gaffe and a popular march, inspired a classic toy, and led huge investigations. Look back on some of its defining moments.
Marshall Field's Christmas Windows with Uncle Mistletoe

From the Archive: Marshall Field's Christmas Windows

They have been a tradition in Chicago for over one hundred years, and seemingly everyone has fond memories of going to see them. See some of your favorite Christmas windows and learn how they're put together in this episode of Chicago Stories from 2000.
The Chicago River at Wolf Point. Photo: Kristan Lieb

Only a true Chicagoan can ace this quiz about the Chicago River

How much do you know about the river and its history? The Chicago River Tour with Geoffrey Baer premieres November 27 at 7:30 pm.
The 8th Infantry Regiment of the Illinois National Guard

The Forgotten Story of Illinois's Black World War I Regiment

The 370th Infantry Regiment is one of only a handful of African American regiments that served in World War I and the only one commanded solely by black officers. Having fought for their country abroad, they returned home to fight for their rights.
Subscribe to RSS - History