Events & Exhibits


Swedish Pancakes for Breakfast?

Why do we eat the things we eat? And how do those things change due to migration? This talk explores what the foods we eat can tell us about immigration, identity, and Nordic-American life in the Upper Midwest, by focusing on coffee, lutefisk, and, of course, Swedish pancakes.

The Happy Invention: The History and Significance of Picture Postcards

The first picture postcards were published for the 1889 Paris Exposition, celebrating the completion of the Eiffel Tower. In America, the first picture postcards were printed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago — making Illinois the birthplace of the American picture postcard. Since those flowery Victorian originals, uncountable billions of postcards of every aspect of life have been printed, depicting train stations and bandstands; street views and cartoons; ads for products and services; beauties and freaks; social history both whimsical and dark; and everything in between. An early mention of postcards is in the 1870 diary of a Welsh curate, who called them “a happy invention.”

The Loop: The “L” Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago

Patrick T. Reardon unfolds the fascinating story about how Chicago’s elevated Loop was built, gave its name to the downtown, helped unify the city, saved the city’s economy, and was itself saved from destruction in the 1970s. Explore the elevated Loop’s impact on the city’s development and economy and on the way Chicagoans see themselves. The Loop rooted Chicago’s downtown in a way unknown in other cities, and it protected that area—and the city itself—from the full effects of suburbanization during the second half of the 20th century.

Marshall Field’s and Chicago, This event is presented as part of the Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Bureau outreach

For over 150 years, Marshall Field and Company was Chicago’s store, run by the most innovative retailer of the 19th century. Chicago natives could easily identify a Field’s shopping bag at a hundred paces, and Chicago brides weren’t really getting married until they registered at Marshall Field and Company. Marshall Field and Company’s history is tightly entwined with that of Chicago.

Fun & Games: Sports and Leisure, Sixth Annual Lake County History Symposium

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 @ 6:30 PM via ZOOM Saturday, November 7, 2020 @ 9:30 - 11:30 AM via ZOOM Highland Park is well represented by two presentations: Wednesday: North Shore Yacht Club: A Century of Fun & Safety on Lake Michigan Saturday: A Day at the Beach (Ossoli Club of Highland Park) presented by Archivist Nancy Webster 

No Ketchup: Why Dennis Foley Ate 50 Hot Dogs in 50 Days

The Chicago-style Hot Dog - fit for kings and commoners alike. In Dennis Foley’s No Ketchup, you'll find Chicago's Top 50 hot dogs along with stories about the mom and pop entrepreneurs who slap the mustard on your wiener. No matter where you're at in the Chicago area, Foley will direct you to the nearest location for that tasty dog with plenty of snap. Get yours with everything or hold the relish. Whatever the case, stop in to one of these joints, grab a dog, and share a few words with the folks behind the counter as you knock down one of the greatest treats known to mankind.

Lady Elgin Collision and Sinking in Lake Michigan, September 8, 1860

The PS Lady Elgin was a wooden-hulled sidewheel steamship that sank in Lake Michigan off the fledgling town of Port Clinton, Illinois, whose geography is now divided between Highland Park and Highwood, Illinois, after she was rammed in a gale by the schooner Augusta in the early hours of September 8, 1860. The passenger manifest was lost with the collision, but the sinking of the Lady Elgin resulted in the loss of about 300 lives in what was called "one of the greatest marine horrors on record". Four years after the disaster, a new rule required sailing vessels to carry running lights. The Lady Elgin disaster remains the greatest loss of life on open water in the history of the Great Lakes.

How Corn Changed Itself and then Changed Everything Else

About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass growing in Mexico possessed of a strange trait known as a “jumping gene” transformed itself into a larger and more useful grass—the cereal grass that we would come to know as maize and then corn. Nurtured by early farmers in the Oaxaca region, this grain would transform the Americas even before First Contact. After First Contact, it would span the globe, with mixed results, but for newcomers in North America, it expanded its influence from rescuing a few early settlers to creating the Midwest and building the world we know. Today, it is more important than ever. As Margaret Visser noted in her classic work Much Depends on Dinner, “Without corn, North America—and most particularly modern, technological North America—is inconceivable.” However, corn and the people who raise it also face some challenges.

4th of July Trivia Contest at 9:30 AM

Curated and designed by Nancy Webster, Archivist Saturday, July 4, 2020 at 9:30 am Available virtually via Zoom Go to meeting This link above has the password built into it. While the meeting won't begin until the appointed time, please take a look in advance if this is your first time. Meanwhile, we look forward to better days. 4th of July Highland Park Trivia Contest You many have also noticed that the Historical Society launched a social distancing parade on social media this Memorial Day, May 25. This effort will culminate July 4th when the Society will broadcast the sequence on Facebook and other social media sites. An online trivia contest on Zoom will follow. Please participate and bring others. Log on information will be distributed before the event and via City websites. Please propose trivia that you would like included in the contest, please email suggestions with source citations to