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3-Meetings and Events

New American History Seminar to Examine Chicago History

CIC and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will cosponsor a seminar for history faculty members on “The Creation of the Modern American City: Chicago from 1830 to 1910.” The seminar, to be led by Henry Binford, associate professor of history and urban affairs at Northwestern University, and Carl Smith, Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American studies and professor of history, also at Northwestern, will take place June 16–20, 2014, at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois.
The team-taught seminar will employ a chronological and topical approach to explore major developments in Chicago’s formative period, when it evolved from a tiny frontier outpost to the nation’s second city and emblem of urban modernity, for better and for worse. The seminar will focus on the built environment of Chicago by examining a series of major human-made structures and institutions that both reflected the larger events and ideas that created them and have left a lasting mark on the cityscape. Participants will discuss the coming of the canal, the railroad, and Chicago’s rise to become the transportation center of the nation; the stockyards, the packinghouses, and the city’s transition from commercial center to industrial colossus; the place of the Great Fire and the skyscraper revolution in the evolution of the cityscape; the social strife and economic conflict revealed in the Haymarket bombing and the Pullman Strike; the hopes of urban reform expressed by Hull House, the World’s Columbian Exposition, and the 1909 Plan of Chicago; and the beginnings of the African American community that would later be called the “Black Metropolis.”
Up to 28 participants will be selected by competitive nomination. Faculty members who wish to participate must be nominated by the chief academic officer of their institution. The nominations deadline is January 24, 2014. For more information and the nomination form, visit For questions about the seminar or nomination process, contact Stephen Gibson, CIC director of programs, at
Thanks to generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, room, board, and books for participants will be fully covered. Participants or their institutions will be expected to provide transportation to and from Chicago; however, CIC will reimburse the participants’ institution up to $200 for travel-related expenses following the seminar.

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