by
Rod Sellers
Southeast Historical Society
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Take a tour of Chicago's Southeast Side
Southeast Historical Society Newsletter
April, 2001                                         Volume XV No. 2

East Side Sesquicentennial 1851 to 2001

Southeast Historical Society Annual Meeting

     The annual meeting of the Southeast Historical Society was held on March 31, 2001.  The election of officers was held at the meeting.  Joe Mulac was elected President, Rod Sellers Vice President, Ora Coon Treasurer, Gloria Novak Recording Secretary, and Annette Powell Corresponding Secretary.  The officers will be installed at the Installation Dinner which will be held on May 20, 2001 at Mr. D’s Villa.  We wish them success for the coming year. 

Community Quilts Exhibition

The Chicago Park District is sponsoring an exhibition of Community Quilts at the South Shore Cultural Center at 7059 South Shore Drive.  The narrative quilts were created by participants in quilting programs at several Chicago parks including Calumet, Garfield, Fuller, Bessemer, and West Lawn.  A Grand Opening reception was held at the South Shore Cultural Center on April 28.  The community quilts will be on display to the public at the South Shore Cultural Center from April 27 to June 8, 2001.  After the exhibition closes, the individual quilts will be displayed in their home park.  The various quilts piece together community stories, experiences, and histories.  The Southeast Historical Museum has been collaborating with the Calumet Park program by providing historical photos and technical assistance.  The photos were scanned or digitally photographed and then transferred to cloth for panels in the quilt.  The Calumet Park quilt is entitled “Threads of Time” and it includes panels which deal with the history and culture of the neighborhood around the park.  The Art Craft Instructor for the Calumet Park Quilting Project is Holly Gonzalez.  Quilters who contributed to the beautiful finished product are: Dora Hernandez, Stephanie Diaz, Angelina Finlon, Lucy Nosich, Ann Starcevich, Rose Alivojvodic, Marge Nikich, Helen Jerbic, and Janet Tornincasa. 

Southeast Chicago Slide Presentations

   Rod Sellers, co author of the book Chicago’s Southeast Side, continues to make presentations to various groups about our community.  In February, presentations were made to the Polish Genealogical Society at the Polish Museum of America and to the Homewood Historical Society.  In March presentations were made to the Calumet Ecological Park Association (CEPA) and at the Calumet City Public Library.  Rod has been doing two different slide presentations.  The first includes images from the book and is entitled “Smokestacks and Steeples”.  The second which is typically shown at a second appearance is entitled “The Pictures that Did Not Make the Book”.  If you are aware of a group who would be interested in seeing these programs, contact the Museum or contact Rod. 

Cultural Connections Tour  May 19, 2001

    On May 19, students from the Museology Class and chemistry and biology students from Washington High School will be conducting a tour of the Chicago’s Southeast Side for the Cultural Connections Program of the Field Museum.  The tour will begin from the Southeast Historical Museum in the Calumet Park Field House at 10:00 AM.  The route will be south through the East Side neighborhood to Wolf Lake State Park for a brief stop.  Then the tour winds its way through the Hegewisch neighborhood and will stop at the O’Brien Locks along the Calumet River.  Then the tour goes through South Deering with a stop at the Indian Ridge Marsh, site of a nesting spot for the endangered Black Crowned Night Heron.  Next on the tour is a ride through South Chicago and past the site of the former South Works plant of U. S. Steel.  Lunch will be held at the Synagogue on Houston Avenue in South Chicago. The lunch will be catered by Neil Bosanko and will be a ethnic lunch including Polish sausage, fried chicken, Mexican steak and beans, mostaccioli and more.  The tour will return to the Southeast Historical Museum by 2:00 PM.  A 57 seat highway coach has been chartered and the tour has been sold out for weeks.  If enough interest is shown the tour could be repeated for local residents at a later date.  Contact the Southeast Historical Museum if you are interested. 

Southeast Side Community Homecoming in Honor of the East Side’s Sesquicentennial

   On June 23 and 24, 2001 museums throughout Illinois will be participating in Family Heritage Days, an event sponsored by the Illinois Association of Museums and the Illinois Heritage Association.  Current and former residents are encouraged to attend our “Homecoming”.  The event will call special attention to the 150th birthday of the East Side.  Our plans include opening the Southeast Historical Museum on the above dates and having displays set up in the lobby of the Calumet Park Field House.  Items will be available for purchase and include the book Chicago’s Southeast Side, a self guided driving tour of the four southeast side communities of South Chicago, East Side, South Deering, and Hegewisch, and the new booklet, the Environmental History of Chicago’s Southeast Side.  Reprints of historical photos from the Museum will also be available for purchase.  Other plans not yet finalized may include walking tours, slide presentations, and possibly a bus tour.  Spread the word, tell all your friends and relatives, and join us on June 23 and 24. 

Society Member Writes Book

    Southeast Historical Society member and past president, Kevin Murphy, has written a novel, Degrees of Murder.  The town of Lackenby, Illinois, battered by a series of murders, is an uneasy place, where no one can be sure that he or she is not the next target.  Police Chief Joe Weiss calls in his friend, Matt Shea, a behavioral sciences professor whose past includes military investigative work.   The book may be obtained via the Internet at:
www.booklocker.com/bookpages/kevinmurphy01.html 

Museology Update Spring 2001

   The Museology Class has been accomplishing quite a lot this year.  During the first semester the students worked on projects in the Museum to make it more “user friendly” to visitors.  The students created an inventory of the contents of our Large Album Collection.  This Collection consists of 8 albums of newspaper articles, photos, xerox copies, and more.  There are some fascinating documents in this collection but it was very difficult to use.  Now we have a list of the contents of each album which makes this collection much more usable.  In the future it is hoped that the articles, photos, etc. will be cataloged and added to our card catalog.  The students have also reorganized and audited the Southeast Historical Project Photo Collection, one of the most frequently utilized collections in the Museum.  The photos have been placed in new albums, audited and new lists of contents have been created.  Another ongoing project AT The Museum has been to redo labels on albums and other collections as well as labels for the Commercial Avenue Diorama.  Students have also relabeled the 1923 painting in the Museum by Charles Petit, city planner. 
During the second semester, the students continued work on the Southeast Chicago website (www.neiu.edu/~reseller).  By the end of the year numerous additional pages should be available for viewing on the Internet.  This year’s Museology students have added pages on Bowen High School, Taylor School, U. S. Rolling Stock Company, the Trumbull Park Housing Projects, Wisconsin Steel, St. Francis De Sales, Immaculate Conception Church, and more.  The web site has been viewed by individuals from across the country (see additional story). 
     Also, during the second semester the Museology students are working on a booklet which will tell the environmental history of the southeast side.  They are working with chemistry and biology  students from Washington High School on this project and hope to have a booklet published by early June.  On April 5 Washington and Bowen High School students visited the site of U. S.  Steel South Works.  Soil samples and photographs were taken.  Frank Stanley was one of the guides on the tour.  His experiences at U. S. Steel provided the background for his excellent commentary. 
     On May 19 the Museology and other students from Washington High School will be conducting a four hour tour for the Field Museum Cultural Connections Program (see additional story).   As always this has been an interesting and very busy year for our Museology Program, one of the best examples of project based education in the Chicago area.

Recent Museum Acquisitions

    As always, interesting items continue to be acquired by our Museum.  Jim Rossi obtained 31 photos from the Gornick family which show the U-505 submarine docked at Great Lakes Dredge and Dock at 92nd Street.  The photos also show the submarine prior to it being taken on a floating dry dock to the Museum of Science and Industry.  They also show the trip through the Calumet River to Lake Michigan and the preparations before the submarine was hauled across Lake Shore Drive to its present location.  The photos were returned to their original owner but were scanned and prints can be made.  The photos are posted on our web site (U-505 Album)
     The Southeast Historical Society was well represented at the rededication of the South Chicago Post Office which was renamed the John J. Buchanan Post Office.  Frank Stanley was one of the featured speakers and Southeast Historical Society president Alex Savastano made a presentation to Mr. Buchanan.  A videotape of the days festivities was made and is available at the Museum. 
     On March 17, 2001 Rod Sellers and Frank Stanley conducted an interview with John Buchanan in which the former alderman told numerous tales about his experiences in public life.  The fascinating two hour interview is available for viewing at the Museum. 
The Museum is in the process of creating a photo collection separate from the Southeast Historical Project collection.   The collection already has some fascinating images.  If anybody  has photos they are willing to donate or allow to be copied please notify Museum personnel. 

Web Site Generates Numerous “Hits”

     The “Chicago’s Southeast Side” website (www.neiu.edu/~reseller) has been seen throughout the country and some very interesting requests and comments have been received by Rod Sellers whose e-mail (rodsellers1@yahoo.com) is published on the site.  Among the comments are the following:
 “I have just completed the tour and found it fascinating.  I am doing research into my family tree.”
 “I grew up in the South Chicago neighborhood.  I now reside in Minnesota, but still have ties to the south side as well as a strong interest in genealogy.  My father lived on the 8400 block of S. Manistee Avenue until his death in 1924.  We belonged to the Saint Mary Magdalene parish.”
 “It’s nice to see the web site functioning.  I would like to post the site - it might be of interest to my Russian colleagues”
 “I was very excited to see your home page.  I learned about your museum in January (2000) at the American Historical Association conference in Chicago.”
 “I am a graduate student working on my thesis and wondering if your collection would have anything for my research.  The topic is Mexican Repatriation during the Great Depression in the Chicago Area.”
 “My name is D____ P____ and I graduated G. W. High in June 1960.  I found this site amazing.  Your brought back many memories.”
 “I was reading the Southeast Observer and came across an ad for the Chicago Historical Society, which led me to their web page.  There I came upon your site, which I found to be thoroughly enlightening.  I would just like to express my gratitude to you and the others who’ve made this possible.”
 “ My name is A______ R________.  I am a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago....I am doing a large research project on South Deering.  I found a web site with your name on it.”
 “Congrats on your web site.  I was born on the East Side but have lived on a farm in Iowa for the past 30 years.  I brought back a lot of memories.”
 “I was so excited to find your site.  I do know that my grandfather ... was confirmed at the So. Chicago Ev. Lutheran Church on March 30, 1879.  His daughter ... was baptised Nov. 6, 1896.”
 “Thanks you for your reply.  Your site is wonderful.  I have bookmarked it so I can return to see your new additions.  I have boxes and boxes of old pictures etc.  If I come across any that are definitely South Chicago I will scan and send them to you.”
 “I am a 1963 graduate of George Washington High School (valedictorian)....I am very excited about the work that the Southeast Chicago Museum, you and your students are doing to preserve the history of the East Side.  The web site is quite good.”
 “My 82 year old mother, who lives on the East Side, was interested in reading some of the information on the web site, so I printed several pages out for her.  She was very impressed.  Now she wants ne to print out all the pages pertinent to the East Side.  I am going to put them in a notebook for her to take home and show her sister and some of the women in her church.”
 There are more messages but we will save them for the next newsletter.  The internet has certainly expanded the reach of our efforts.  If any Society members have any items for our next newsletter they may be dropped off at the Southeast Historical Museum or at the East Side Chamber of Commerce. 
 
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