Under The Buffalo

The Under the Buffalo Presentation Series provides unique, high-quality programming for a broad audience interested in history, art, and culture. Speakers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise. Past topics have included green architecture, the underground railroad in Illinois, and industrial design. Presentations are presented six times a year (September-November and January-March). Admission is $10 per person; free for members of the Evanston History Center.

If you’d like more information on the lecture series or to suggest a topic or speaker, please contact, Jenny Thompson, Director of Education.



August 2021, “Charles Dawes and his Crusade Against the Senate Filibuster,” Speaker: Daniel S. Holt.

April 2021, “Fortune and Faith in Old Chicago: A Dual Biography of Mayor Augustus Garrett and Seminary Founder Eliza Clark,” Speaker: Charles H. Cosgrove.

March 2021, “The World of Juliette Kinzie: Chicago Before the Fire,” Speaker: Ann Durkin Keating

February 2021, “Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75,” Speaker: Susan Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino.

January 2021, “Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation,” Speaker: Dean Jobb.

September 2020, “The Watergate Girl: My Fight for Truth and Justice Against a Criminal President,” Speaker: Jill Wine-Banks with Christie Hefner.

March 2020, “From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran,” Speaker: Jacqueline Saper.

November 2019, “Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business,” Speaker: Josh Noel.

March 2019, “A Life Worthwhile,” a look at the life and career of Lorraine Morton.

February 2019: “The Way of Coyote:” Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds. Speaker: Gavin Van Horn.

January 2019: “The Vanishing City:” Excavating the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893. Speaker: Rebecca Graff.

November 2018: “Redlined:” A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community on 1960s Chicago. Speaker: Linda Gartz.

October 2018: “High Risers:” Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing. Speaker: Ben Austen.

September 2018: “The Leopold and Loeb Files” An Intimate Look at One of America’s Most Infamous Crimes. Speaker: Nina Barrett.

March 2018: “Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife.” Speaker: Pamela Bannos.

February 2018: “Valedictory Address.” Speaker: Janet Messmer.

January 2018:   “The Future Has Arrived!” Designing Evanston’s First Platinum LEED Home. Speaker: Nathan Kipnis.

November 2017. “Jacqueline: A Portrayal of Jackie Kennedy.” Performer/Speaker Leslie Goddard.

October 2017. “Handmade in Evanston: The Jewelry of Eve Alfillé.” Speaker Eve J. Alfillé.

September 2017. “What the Lady Wants: A Portrait of Chicago and Marshall Fields in the Gilded Age.” Speaker: Renée Rosen.

March 2017. “Untold Stories: Enslaved People in the Home of the Grimke Family.” Speaker: Louise W. Knight.

February 2017. “Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad.” Speaker: Janine Michna-Bales.

January 2017. “The South Side: The Portrait of Chicago and America.” Speaker: Natalie Y. Moore.

November 2016. “Giants in the Park: Unveiling the Histories behind Lincoln Park’s Vintage Monuments.” Speaker: Krista August.

October 2016. “The Last Voyageurs: Retracing LaSalle’s Journey Across America.” Speaker: Lorraine Boissoneault.

September 2016. “The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.” Speaker: Ethan Michaeli.

April 2016. “Native American History and Evanston: Collecting and Assessing a Complex Past.” Speaker: Alyssa M. Padilla.

March 2016. “Nurses, ‘Hello Girls,’ and Farmerettes: The Changing Roles of American Women in World War I.” Speaker: Tricia Smith Scanlan.

February 2016. “Adoption and Identity Intertwined.” Speaker: Mei Kelly.

January 2016. “Lessons from 20 Years of Covering Scandals, Frauds, and Scams.” Speaker: Bethany McLean.

September 2015. “Incorporating Community:” Charles & Caro Dawes Choose Evanston. Speaker: Sigrid Pohl Perry

October 2015: “The Dawes House Grounds: From Victorian to Progressive.” Speaker: Barbara Geiger

November 2015: “Getting Started in Genealogy.” Speaker: Grace DuMelle

February 2015. “The Seasons of Henry’s Farm:” Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm. Speaker: Terra Brockman.

January 2015. “Photographer Vivian Maier:” In Evanston and In the World. Speaker: Richard Cahan.

November 2014. “The Great War, Fashion & Social Customs:” A Look at the War’s Influence. Speaker: Janet C. Messmer.

October 2014. “Art, Craft, & Argental:” The Cellini Shop of Evanston, 1914-1978. Speaker: Mary B. McWilliams.

September 2014. “Below Stairs:” Margaret Powell, the Kitchen Maid Whose Memoir Inspired Downton Abbey. Perfomer/Speaker: Leslie Goddard.

April 2014: “Coolidge.” Speaker: Amity Shlaes.

February 2014. “She Was His Cook, But He Built Her House:” Race, Gender and Reproductive Labor in 20th Century Evanston. Speaker: Doria Johnson.

January 2014. “The Devil Comes to Wilmette:” The 1893 World’s Fair, Daniel Burnham and Henry Holmes. Speaker: Barbara Geiger.

November 2013. “A Poem in Brick & Stone:” Architectural Restoration of the Dawes House (Part II). Speaker: Kris Hartzell.

October 2013. “Sanctified Minds & Sharp Elbows: Northwestern and Evanston Through History.” Speaker: Kevin Leonard.

September 2013. “Cartographic Tales of Chicago History.” Speaker: Dennis McClendon.

March 2013. “Preserving the Family Table: The Founding of Evanston’s Community Kitchen After WWI.” Speaker: Erin Hvizdak.

February 2013. “The Future of Food.” Speaker: Josh Schonwald.

January 2013.  “The Making of Downton Abbey: Setting the Scene.”  Speaker: Barbara Geiger.

November 2012.  “Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Boudoirs.”  Speaker: Janet C. Messmer.

October 2012.  “Historic Structures & Green Technology: Renewal from the Group Up.”  Speaker: Mark E. Nussbaum, P.E.

September 2012. “A Poem in Brick & Stone: Architectural Conservation of the Dawes House.”  Speaker: Kris Hartzell

March 2012.  “Low-Key Genius: The Life and Work of Landscape-Gardener O.C. Simonds.”  Speaker: Barbara Geiger

February 2012.  “Preserving Chicago’s Landmark Buildings.”  Speaker: Gunny Harboe

January 2012.  “Chicago From the Sky.”  Speaker: Lawrence Okrent

November 2011. “A History of Cocktails, Cocktail Dresses and the Cocktail Party.”  Speaker: Janet C. Messmer

October 2011.  “Operation Freedom – The Berlin Airlift.”  Speaker: Anette Isaacs

September 2011.  “Remembering Marshall Field’s.”  Speaker: Leslie Goddard

March 2011. “Architectural Evanston.” Speaker: Kris Hartzell

February 2011. “The Golden Age of Radio: A Beginner’s Guide.” Speaker: Steve Darnall

January 2011. “Looking Forward: The Evanston Women’s History Project.” Speaker: Sunny Fischer.

November 2010. “Tracing Slavery and Slaveholding in the Family.” Speaker: Pam Smith

October 2010. “The Streets of Evanston.” Speaker: Janet Messenger.

September 2010. “The Wreck of the Lady Elgin.” Speaker: Valerie Van Heest.

April 2010. “The YMCA of Evanston.” Panel.

March 2010. “Clara, Lu, and Em: Old Time Radio.” Reenactment.

February 2010. “Evanston in Postcards.” Mimi Peterson.

January 2010. “Transforming the Traditional.” Speakers: Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker.

November 2009. “Evanston Fashions.” Speaker: Janet C. Messmer

October 2009: “Chicago’s Prairie Avenue.” Speaker: William Tyre.

September 2009: “Evanston at the Movies: Part II.” Speaker: Jenny Thompson.

September 2008: “Evanston at the Movies.” Speaker: Jenny Thompson.

April 2008: “Hunger Artist:” A Suburban Childhood.” Speaker: Joanne Jacobson.

March 2008: “Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City.” Speaker: Judith Paine McBrien.

February 2008: “The Underground Railroad in Illinois.” Speaker: Glennette Tilley Turner.

January 2008: “Alchemy of Bones: Chicago’s Luetgert Murder Case of 1897.” Speaker: Robert Loerzel.

November 2007: “Excavating the Foundations of Evanston, A Survey of Early 20th Century Undergarments.” Speaker: Janet Messmer.

October 2007: “Remembering Foster School.” Speaker: Morris (Dino) Robinson, Jr.

September 2007: “A Brief and Personal History of Green Architecture.” Speaker: Nathan Kipnis.

June 2007: “The New Holocaust Memorial Museum in Illinois.” Speaker: Richard Hirschhaut.

April 2007: “Jane Addams in Evanston, Patriotism and Free Speech in Wartime.” Speaker: Louise (Lucy) Knight.

March 2007: “Finding the Story in History.” Speaker: Jay Bonansinga.

February 2007: “Homicide in Chicago, 1870-1930.” Speaker: Leigh Bienen.

January 2007: “A Life’s Design.” Speaker: Charles Harrison.

November 2006: “My Hut: The Story of William Levere’s YMCA Service in France During World War One.” Speaker: Jenny Thompson.