Chicago History Museum

by on October 1, 2011

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I’m starting to get settled in my new place. After living in two moderately new high-rises in downtown Chicago, I’ve moved into a more historic building–it was built in 1921 and served as a Chinese consulate at some point. Now that I’m starting my fourth year living in the city, I feel that it’s only appropriate for me to start learning a little more about the city’s history. That’s why I should probably make a visit to the Chicago History Museum, which is just a mile down the street from me. Ironically, the museum, having been founded in 1856, “is the city’s oldest cultural institution,” though they pretty much had to start over after the Great Fire destroyed their building and most of their collection in 1871. Three years later there was another fire that destroyed most of what remained. Luckily, there haven’t been any more fires, so the Chicago History Museum has had a decent amount of time to build a new collection.

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The Chicago History Museum’s collection focuses on eight specific areas: Architecture, Archives and Manuscripts (including Audio), Books and other Published Materials, Costumes and Textiles, Decorative and Industrial Arts, Fine Arts, and Prints and Photographs. The scope of these collections is limited to items related to Living in the Metropolitan Area, Working in the Metropolitan Area, Governing the Metropolitan Area, The Built Environment, and Individuals and Ideas. Apparently it all adds up to more than 22 million documents and artifacts. If you want to learn more about the specific collections, you should start here. And if you find that Chicago history speaks to you, then you’ll want to take a look at the Chicago History Museum’s Internships page. Right now they’re looking for unpaid interns in Historical Monograph Cataloging, Rights and Reproduction, Accountant Research and Analysis, and Institutiional Advancement. They periodically post other internships, so keep checking if you don’t see something that is exactly what you’re looking for.

Links to Help You Begin Your Research

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