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Chicago Historical Society

1601 North Clark Street At North Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

Phone: 312 642 4600 --

Statement of Purpose:

To collect, interpret and present the rich multicultural history of Chicago as well as selected areas of U.S. history.

The Chicago Historical Society, a privately endowed, independent institution, is devoted to collecting, interpreting and presenting the multicultural history of Chicago and Illinois, as well as selected areas of American history. The institution has 20 million objects, images and documents within seven different categories of collection. Located on the south end of beautiful Lincoln Park, the CHS is an urban history museum offering exhibitions, programs, research collections, and publications to the general public.

Highlights & Collections:

Relive Chicago's history through the stories of its people - where they come from, where they live, where they work and where they play.

From Chicago's World's Fair in 1893 to Chicago's Flood in 1992, the Historical Society presents the past in vivid details.

Approximately 20 million objects, images, and documents are kept in the following categories:


The Library, located on the third floor of the building, provides its services to the CHS staff, visiting researchers and the general public. The library collection includes more than 70,000 books and 14,000 volumes of periodicals about Chicago and American history.


American History Wing

We The People: Creating a Nation, 1760-1820 tells the story of the founding of the Republic and the ordinary and extraordinary people who made the American Revolution. Highlights include the first printing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

A House Divided:

America in the Age of Lincoln explores the institution of slavery and the destructive power of the war. The rich Civil War collection, including Lincoln's death bed and John Brown's Bible, is utilized to explore the economic and social impact of slavery on American Society.

Bessie Green-Field Warshawsky Hands-on History Gallery

An interactive gallery to encourage active rather than passive learning for visitors of all ages offers seven distinct areas of discovery. Weekday mornings are reserved for tour groups. Afternoon hours vary.

Chicago History Galleries

An overview of major themes in the city's history: commerce, industry, transportation, culture, expansions, world's fairs and neighborhood life. Here children can climb aboard the Pioneer, Chicago's first locomotive and the Historical Society's largest artifact.

Fort Dearborn and Frontier Chicago Gallery

Chicago's beginning from wilderness outpost to burgeoning town is explored in this exhibition through early 19th century personal artifacts, letters, and daguerreotypes of Indians and the earliest settlers. Logs from the second Ft. Dearborn form one wall of the exhibition.

Illinois Pioneer Life Gallery

An introduction to daily life on the Illinois Frontier. Daily craft demonstrations including spinning, weaving, dyeing, quilting, candle dipping, flax processing and printing.

Sanger P. Robinson Portrait Gallery

Selections from the CHS collection of 2,500 works on paper, 1,300 oil paintings, and 450 sculptures are representative of the history of Chicago's vibrant artistic community. Paintings and sculptures are also displayed in the Wrigley Gallery and adjacent Arthur Rubloff Auditorium on the first floor.



The Elizabeth F. Cheney Center for Education and Public Programs

offers a wide variety of activities that complement the overall mission of the Chicago Historical Society. Individuals, families, and groups participate in nearly 200 program offerings annually, including lectures, symposia, panel discussions, musical and theatre performances, film and video series, workshops, and special events. Though some fee programs are offered, most education and public programs are free. For more information about all programs, call 642-4600, ext. 383.

School Programs

About 40,000 students from more than 1,000 public and parochial schools visit the Historical Society each year in organized tours. Learning programs are planned annually and visits must be scheduled. The following are explained:

Voices from History

Presentations and oral performances are offered to student groups during the week and to the general public on weekends.

Special Outreach

An offshoot of the Voices from History program travels to schools to make presentations.

Special School Events

Special activities are offered in recognition of events throughout the year, including National Book Week (November), Pioneer Day (December), African-American History Month (February), and Chicago's Birthday (March).

Teacher Programs

Educator open houses and teacher seminars are offered periodically.

Interpreter Programs

Interpreter training sessions are held for new volunteers. The courses are offered for two long-term exhibitions and temporary exhibitions, as needed. An annual volunteer recognition event is held usually in June for approximately 100 Interpreters and other volunteers at CHS.

Adult and Family Programs

Exploring the City Program

Trace the history of Chicago and Illinois on foot and by bus. The Exploring the City Program offers half-day, full-day and overnight tours about the history of city and state neighborhoods, ethnic communities, architecture, and popular culture. Tours feature the Gold Coast, Old Town, River Walk, Chicago churches, and special tours to broaden your appreciation of CHS exhibitions. For more information, call 642-4600, ext. 318.

Adult Tour Program

Bring your group for a guided tour of one of the CHS permanent or special exhibitions and lunch in the Big Shoulders Cafe. Trained gallery interpreters add dimension and depth to the exhibit tour experience. Lunch, provided by the Big Shoulders Cafe, includes an entree, dessert, beverage, and gratuity. The guided tour and lunch is $15 per person. The guided tour only is $6 per person. Take a self-guided tour for $3 per person. Call 312-642-4600, ext. 385, for a tour schedule.


This informal monthly program for children accompanied by adults offers new ways to relate history to their lives. Craft activities encourage children to take a look at the past and present in fun, creative ways. KIDSTORY is held the second Saturday of each month between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The program is free with regular CHS admission.

Workshops and Family Programs

Reading programs, theatrical presentations, arts and crafts, and other hands-on learning activities are offered by the CHS, including an annual week-long New Year's Celebration, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Commemoration, and Fourth of July Celebration. These programs are free with a museum admission.



Admission & Directions:


CHS is serviced by CTA buses #11, 22, 36, 72, 151 and 156. By Car: west from Lake Shore Drive or east from the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94) exit at North Avenue. Just a half-block north of North Avenue (1500 north) on Clark Street (at 100 west.)


Metered parking is available on nearby streets and in the Lincoln Park parking lot one half-block north of the museum. Public parking garages are available on North Avenue and on Wells Street. Handicapped parking available upon request.


Frontview of the building

An overview of the city's history.

Key Personnel:

Robert Nauert, Vice President.

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