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History

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

Revisiting the Great Chicago Fire 149 Years Later

Meredith Francis

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.
The Poetry Foundation library in Chicago. Photo: Sam Grant

The Chicago Magazine That Has Helped Define Poetry for the Past Century

Daniel Hautzinger

Poetry magazine has published most major poets of the last century and given many of them early breaks, from T.S. Eliot to Gwendolyn Brooks, Ocean Vuong, and Danez Smith. "Chicago," excerpts from Claudia Rankine's Citizen, and "anyone lived in a pretty how town" were first published in its pages. 
Children being treated in iron lungs. Photo: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

"One of the Greatest Events in the History of Medicine": The Defeat of Polio

Daniel Hautzinger

DuPage county, outside Chicago, took part in Jonas Salk's polio vaccine trials in 1954, a successful nationwide experiment that led to the virtual end of a terrifying disease and was called "one of the greatest events in the history of medicine." 
A pride parade in Chicago in the 1970s. Photo: Courtesy Rich Pfeiffer

How Chicago’s Pride Parade Grew from a Small March to a Big Event

Meredith Francis

Chicago's Pride Parade didn't start as a parade at all. It was originally a small march to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. But a protest against anti-gay activist Anita Bryant in 1977 helped the parade become what it is today.
Henry Gerber

The Chicagoan Who Founded the Earliest Gay Rights Group in America

Meredith Francis

The Society for Human Rights, founded by Chicago postal worker Henry Gerber, didn’t last long, but its legacy inspired various groups in the decades to come. Gerber's Old Town home where he was arrested in 1925 was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2015.
Drawing of a nuclear reactor based on Chicago Pile-1 from the 1944 patent application by inventors Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard. (Image courtesy Argonne National Laboratory)

The Atomic Age's Beginnings on a Squash Court in Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

75 years ago on December 2, scientists at the University of Chicago inaugurated the nuclear era by engineering the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Learn about the origins of nuclear power and the upsides and downsides of its future.

Barbara, Trixie, and Patsy of 'Call the Midwife.' Photo: Neal Street Productions 2016

Modern Midwifery: A Conversation with a Midwife-in-Training

Daniel Hautzinger

Many people probably assume midwives are a thing of the past. A midwife-in-training at the Yale School of Nursing shows otherwise, explaining the various roles midwives play today and surveying the recent history of midwifery.
Matthew Sandiford in the Great Performances broadcast of 'Young Men.' Photo: Sophie Harris-Taylor

World War I in Works of Art

Daniel Hautzinger

April 6 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I. The dance film Young Men dramatizes the effect of that war on the soldiers who fought in it. Explore other works of art that have grappled with the Great War.
Branwell Bronte's portrait of his three sisters alongside the actors who portray them in 'To Walk Invisible.' (Courtesy of Michael Prince/BBC and MASTERPIECE)

The Brontë Family and the Actors Who Portray Them

Daniel Hautzinger

To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters, which aired Sunday, explores the lives of the authors of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Do the actors in the film look like the people that they play?
A photograph of St. Patrick's Church in the 1860s by J. Carbutt.

The Fascinating Characters of Irish Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

Explore some historic figures of Irish Chicago on this St. Patrick's Day. Beyond green beer and parades, there's a lot more to learn about. 
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Hull House, Alice Hamilton, Jane Addams.

The Groundbreaking Women of Hull House

Daniel Hautzinger

Celebrate the pioneering achievements, landmark reforms, and impressive careers of some of the women who resided at Jane Addams' social-minded Hull House in the early twentieth century.
Ken Burns. (Courtesy of Justin Altman)

Ken Burns: America's Storyteller

Daniel Hautzinger

In Ken Burns: America's Storyteller, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Wynton Marsalis, and more celebrate the career of legendary documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. Watch clips highlighting Burns and his career.
A statue of Queen Njinga outside the Fortaleza de São Miguel in Luanda, Angola. (Courtesy of Cécile Fromont)

Africa's Global Objects: Cécile Fromont at the Art Institute

Daniel Hautzinger

Cécile Fromont is a professor of Art History at the University of Chicago specializing in Central Africa and Brazil who appears in the new, three-part documentary Africa's Great Civilizations
Maya Angelou, circa late 70s, early 80s. (Courtesy of Getty)

"Her Life is History": The Universality of Maya Angelou

Daniel Hautzinger

Maya Angelou was beyond prolific, and her life touched on many of the most significant people and events of the twentieth century. The creators of a film about the great woman discuss the difficulty of capturing her multi-faceted life on film, why they admire her, and what she was like.
Emma Green, Anne Hastings, and Mary Phinney of Mercy Street. (Courtesy of Erik Heinila/PBS and Antony Platt/PBS)

Enlarging the Historical Framework: Pamela D. Toler's Look at the Amazing Women of the Civil War

Daniel Hautzinger

The author of Heroines of Mercy Street discusses the determination and accomplishments of female Civil War nurses, the importance of writing about women in history, and her broad historical interests.
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