The Oak Park Public Library has received a $500 programming grant for “Civil War 150” from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of America and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. In collaboration with the Historical Society of OP-RF, they will be marking the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War with a series of programs starting Feb 1 and continuing through March 22. 

The first presenter Feb. 1 is Ted Karamanski from Loyola University, co-author of Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History, published last year. Karamanski, in fact, taught Frank Lipo, executive director of the Historical Society, when he was in graduate school. 

“Ted is a legend in the Public History world,” says Lipo. “He founded and directed the first such program in the Midwest at Loyola. In essence, Public History is getting history out of the classroom and into the museum, the archives, the historical society. But for Ted, it is getting out into the world at large, particularly natural areas and the streets and back alleys of the region. In fact, he is known for his work in the field — at state and national parks, on the streets of Chicago. He takes students to wilderness areas, to the Illinois and Michigan Canal, anywhere there are traces of the past that can be discovered and can help us make connections.

“He is a Chicagoan who is down to earth and not anyone’s idea of an academic in an Ivory Tower.  He has a dry sense of humor and has a lot of fun with his work, which is contagious.”

The presentation takes place this Sunday at 2 p.m. in the second floor Veterans Room. Karamanski and Eileen McMahon, who co-authored the book, will talk about the Civil War’s critical role in the development of Chicago as the metropolis of the heartland. Not only did Chicagoans play an important role in the politics of the conflict, but they supported the troops through production of military supplies and food as well as morally and spiritually through patriotic publications and songs. 

Ann Keating, co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Chicago and author of Rising Up from the Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago, calls this book, “A remarkable portrait of Chicago during the Civil War through the eyes of those who lived it.”

Join the discussion on social media!