Chicago Historical Society (Chicago History Museum)

The title page of A Brief History of the Chicago Historical Society, published in 1881, tells a story:

Organized 1856.
Incorporated 1857.
Collections Destroyed, October 9, 1871.
Re-organized, 1872.
Destroyed second time, July 14, 1874.
Re-organized again, 1877.

It’s a very Chicago story. Of planning and building, of setbacks, of re-building, of more setbacks, and of re-building, again. It’s a story of a museum, but it’s also a story of a people and a city that won’t give up.

The Chicago Historical Society’s story begins in 1856, when Reverend William Barry suggested creating an association to preserve history. He was joined by prominent citizens, including the city’s first Mayor, William B. Ogden, and J. Young Scammon, who published Chicago’s first newspaper. The society incorporated in 1857, only twenty years after the city itself had done the same. Chicago was so young it didn’t have much history of its own, but that wasn’t a problem. The charter included the preservation of American’s past as well as that of Chicago, Illinois, and the Old Northwest.

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1932
Architects: Graham, Anderson, Probst & White
Address: 1601 N. Clark St.

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Sources for Chicago Historical Society (Chicago History Museum)

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.

  • Chicago Historical Society. A Brief History of the Chicago Historical Society: Together With Constitution And By-laws, And List of Officers And Members. 1881.
  • Chicago Historical Society. Library, and Caroline Margaret McIlvaine. Chicago Historical Society Library. 1856-1906: A Handbook. Chicago, 1906.
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Spiro, Robert. History of the Michigan Soldiers’ Aid Society, 1861-1865., 1959.
  • Winslow, Charles Spaulding, 1876-. Historical Events of Chicago. Chicago, Ill.: Soderlund Printing Service, 1937.