Upcoming Events:

Click on links below to see more info about each event.

The Evanston History Center will be closed until further notice starting 11/20/2020 in accordance with the Illinois Tier 3 Mitigation Requirements to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Stay tuned for virtual holiday events!

Under the Buffalo Lecture Series, Winter 2021

Ongoing Events:

Year of Suffrage

45th Annual Mother’s Day House “Walk-By”

Evanston COVID-19 Pandemic Archive

Under the Buffalo Lecture Series

Winter 2021

Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation

Dean Jobb

Tuesday, January 26 , 2021, 6:30-7:30pm

Registration Coming Soon!

It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, an Evanston resident, who enticed hundreds of people to invest as much as $30 million—upward of $400 million today—in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama. This rip-roaring tale of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, over-the-top and under-the-radar deceit, illicit sex, and a brilliant and wildly charming con man on the town, then on the lam, is not only a rich and detailed account of a man and an era; it’s a fascinating look at the methods of swindlers throughout history.

As Model Ts rumbled down Michigan Avenue, gang-war shootings announced Al Capone’s rise to underworld domination. As bedecked partygoers thronged to the Drake Hotel’s opulent banquet rooms, corrupt politicians held court in thriving speakeasies and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Leo Koretz was the Bernie Madoff of his day, and Dean Jobb shows us that the American dream of easy wealth is a timeless commodity.

“Intoxicating and impressively researched, Jobb’s immorality tale provides a sobering post-Madoff reminder that those who think everything is theirs for the taking are destined to be taken.” —The New York Times Book Review 

Dean Jobb is an award-winning author and journalist and a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction and Journalism programs. He specializes in true crime and his monthly column on the genre, “Stranger Than Fiction,” appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He is also a contributing writer for the Chicago Review of Books and reviews nonfiction for the Washington Independent Review of Books. During his 35-year career as a newspaper staff writer and freelance journalist, he has written features and commentaries on an array of subjects – history, current events, law, business, politics, media ethics, science, travel, and the craft of nonfiction.

Stay tuned for registration information.


The World of Juliette Kinzie: Chicago Before the Fire

Ann Durkin Keating

A Virtual Presentation

Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 6:30-7:30pm

Registration Coming Soon!


Join us for a presentation by Ann Durkin Keating as she discusses her book, The World of Juliette Kinzie.

When Juliette Kinzie first visited Chicago in 1831, it was anything but a city. An outpost in the shadow of Fort Dearborn, it had no streets, no sidewalks, no schools, no river-spanning bridges. And with two hundred disconnected residents, it lacked any sense of community. In the decades that followed, not only did Juliette witness the city’s transition from Indian country to industrial center, but she was instrumental in its development.

Juliette is one of Chicago’s forgotten founders. Early Chicago is often presented as “a man’s city,” but women like Juliette worked to create an urban and urbane world, often within their own parlors. With The World of Juliette Kinzie, we finally get to experience the rise of Chicago from the view of one of its most important founding mothers.

Ann Durkin Keating, one of the foremost experts on nineteenth-century Chicago, offers a moving portrait of a trailblazing and complicated woman. Keating takes us to the corner of Cass and Michigan (now Wabash and Hubbard), Juliette’s home base. Through Juliette’s eyes, our understanding of early Chicago expands from a city of boosters and speculators to include the world that women created in and between households. We see the development of Chicago society, first inspired by cities in the East and later coming into its own midwestern ways. We also see the city become a community, as it developed its intertwined religious, social, educational, and cultural institutions. Keating draws on a wealth of sources, including hundreds of Juliette’s personal letters, allowing Juliette to tell much of her story in her own words.

Juliette’s death in 1870, just a year before the infamous fire, seemed almost prescient. She left her beloved Chicago right before the physical city as she knew it vanished in flames. But now her history lives on. The World of Juliette Kinzie offers a new perspective on Chicago’s past and is a fitting tribute to one of the first women historians in the United States.

Ann Durkin Keating is Dr. C. Frederick Toenniges Professor of History at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She is coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Chicago, the editor of Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide, and the author of Rising Up from Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

Stay tuned for registration information.

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Fortune and Faith in Old Chicago: A Dual Biography of Mayor Augustus Garrett and Seminary Founder Eliza Clark Garrett

Charles H. Cosgrove

Tuesday, April 13, 2021, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Join us for a presentation by Charles H. Cosgrove as he discusses his engaging biography of Augustus Garrett and Eliza Clark Garrett. The book tells two equally compelling stories: an ambitious man’s struggle to succeed and the remarkable spiritual journey of a woman attempting to overcome tragedy. By contextualizing the couple’s lives within the rich social, political, business, and religious milieu of Chicago’s early urbanization, author Charles H. Cosgrove fills a gap in the history of the city in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Garretts moved from the Hudson River Valley to a nascent Chicago, where Augustus made his fortune in the land boom as an auctioneer and speculator. A mayor during the city’s formative period, Augustus was at the center of the first mayoral election scandal in Chicago. To save his honor, he resigned dramatically and found vindication in his reelection the following year. His story reveals much about the inner workings of Chicago politics and business in the antebellum era.

The couple had lost three young children to disease, and Eliza arrived in Chicago with deep emotional scars. Her journey exemplifies the struggles of sincere, pious women to come to terms with tragedy in an age when most people attributed unhappy events to divine punishment. Following Augustus’s premature death, Eliza developed plans to devote her estate to founding a women’s college and a school for ministerial training, and in 1853 she endowed a Methodist theological school, the Garrett Biblical Institute (now the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), thereby becoming the first woman in North America to found an institution of higher learning.

In addition to illuminating our understanding of Chicago from the 1830s to the 1850s, Fortune and Faith in Old Chicago explores American religious history, particularly Presbyterianism and Methodism, and its attention to gender shows how men and women experienced the same era in vastly different ways. The result is a rare, fascinating glimpse into old Chicago through the eyes of two of its important early residents.

Charles H. Cosgrove is Professor of Early Christian Literature and Director of Ph.D. Program at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Stay tuned for registration information.

Year of Suffrage! Women’s Vote 100 Evanston

Women’s Vote 100 Evanston, a community partner group, is pleased to announce a series of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in August of 2020.

Evanston women were integral to the local, state, and national women’s suffrage movements. Recognizing that voting restrictions existed long after the 19th Amendment was passed – and still exist today – we commemorate this significant milestone in women’s history remembering that a central and ongoing question in democratic societies is -Who is a Citizen? We tell the story of the long struggle for women’s right to vote to promote understanding of the importance of citizenship and the struggle that women endured to attain it.

On view: Evanston Women and the Fight for the Vote exhibit at Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood Street. More here.
September 17, 6-8 pm: Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers Book Launch with Martha S. Jones. Hosted by FWHM, NU History Dept, Hull-House Museum – online. More here.
October 27, 7 pm: Evanston Women and the Fight for the Vote – Curator Lori Osborne will give a talk based on her research for the exhibit. Hosted by EHC and EWHP. More here.

Women’s Vote 100 Evanston is led by the Evanston Women’s History Project at the Evanston History Center and includes: the City of Evanston; Downtown Evanston; the Evanston Community Foundation; Evanston Made; the Evanston Public Library; the Frances Willard House Museum; the League of Women Voters of Evanston; North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau; Northwestern University; Shorefront Legacy Center; the Woman’s Club of Evanston; the YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

There are lots of great upcoming events, may are virtual! Please click here to visit the Evanston Women’s History Project site to view all the events!

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Evanston History Center’s 45th Annual Mother’s Day House “Walk-By”

The Evanston History Center announces that its 45th annual Mother’s Day House Walk will take place in 2020! But in order to be safe, things will be a bit different this year.

Click here to purchase tickets!

This year, House Walk books will be delivered to ticket holders via email as a PDF, an easily downloadable file. EHC also plans to distribute physical books on or after May 10, 2020, in accordance with the current health safety guidelines.  

This year’s House Walk will be “Walk-By.” EHC invites people to (safely) walk, ride, or drive in order to take part in this year’s event. We invite ticket holders (following social distancing guidelines) to safely experience the House Walk-By beginning on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, 2020, or on any day after (and as many times as you choose!) 

In honor of the centennial of the passage of the nineteenth amendment, giving American women the right to vote, this year, EHC highlights the homes of Evanston women who fought for suffrage and those who served their community through elected office.

This year, as in years past, House Walk tickets come in the form of a handsome book with scores of scholarly house histories and images that highlight the homes of the many women on this year’s tour. During the writing and publishing process, we did a lot of research on how to market a book and so we have a lot of exciting plans to promote this fantastic new piece of work. This year, we’ve expanded both the book’s content and the number of homes on the walk. The book will guide you as you stop at each location around Evanston. Visitors will not be allowed inside any homes, but will be able to view the houses’ exteriors while learning about the houses’ history, architecture, and the significance of the women who lived there.

Your House Walk ticket purchase this year is especially important: the annual House Walk is one of EHC’s most important fundraisers, supplying needed resources for EHC to continue to operate throughout the year. With EHC’s recent physical closure in March 2020, resources for regular operations are in question. Your ticket purchase and any additional donation (if possible) will ensure that the EHC can continue its mission to preserve and share Evanston’s history long into the future.

House Walk tickets may be purchased by calling EHC at 847-475-3410 or by clicking here!  

House Walk tickets are $30 each. EHC members receive a  $5 per ticket discount. Join EHC online or by phone and receive your discount! Children 12 and over require a ticket.

Tickets and discounted member tickets may be purchased online until 5 p.m. May 9, 2020. Tickets may be purchased online throughout the month of May for $35 each. Addresses are not available in advance. House Walk tickets are non-refundable. Visa, MC, and checks are accepted.

Thank you to our sponsors!

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Evanston Community History Project (ongoing)

Documenting the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Evanston History Center announces the launch of an archive and digital record dedicated to documenting the COVID-19 pandemic in Evanston and surrounding areas. Learn more about this project by listening to Jill Schacter’s interview with project organizer Jenny Thompson on the Evanston Public Library’s podcast, “The Checkout”:

We are now seeking digital contributions, from images to documents. We want to ensure that Evanston’s experiences are documented for future generations. You can read the submission guidelines here. You must be 18 years of age or older to submit to the archive.

What would you want people to know about this time 100 years from now?

How to Contribute:

  1. You can use this form to contribute a written document to the archive right now!
  2. You can submit photos or pdfs to EHC via email to Jenny Thompson:

Please make sure you identify your items by providing as much information as you are able. Name of creator, date created, place, etc.

What to contribute? It may be an idea, an observation, a reflection, a photo or scan of an Evanston scene or a sign on a shop, the record of your day, your feelings about Evanston’s particular response to the pandemic, etc. These contributions will constitute a community record of this time. We will house them in a new collection that will be available to researchers at the Evanston History Center at a later date.

Although we are not currently accepting physical donations to the archive, we hope that you will consider preserving items for future donation.

Please contact Jenny Thompson at with questions or to submit your contribution via email. Thank you for contributing your story!

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