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SPOTLIGHTING SOUTHEAST CHICAGO and Northwest Indiana

History & Resources

This website is a Work In Progress.

We have learned that there is always more to be discovered about a region that has had at least a 12,000-year life span, which began as glaciers receded, and organic life, in many forms, began to fill the increasingly "user friendly" spaces the glaciers left behind.   

For thousands of years, the region flourished as a gathering place for myriads of migratory wild fowl, whose flyways ran from the arctic to the subtropics and beyond, and were heavily concentrated across the Calumet Region.   With its vast waterways rich in varieties of fish and other marine life, the region provided a hospitable way-station for the annual bird migrations north and south.  And, of course, it provided an excellent hunting ground for creatures that partook of the avian bounty passing through the area.  

Aboriginal Americans became an important part of that process and, in time, became the dominant player in the region's prehistoric game of life.  Much later, they were joined by Europeans and their descendants, whose migrations had brought them into the Calumet Region.  Among the first of those were French voyageurs who pioneered the wilderness, often traveling and hunting with the nomadic aboriginals, but also blazing trails for others to follow, establishing trading posts and, subsequently, building communities that grew up around those kernels of permanence.   Still later settlers began altering the region from a hunting and fishing paradise to farming and farming-related commercial activities.    

Industry came naturally with the influx of people who were more inclined to take root than to adopt a nomadic life style of following wild creatures in their migratory patterns.  And, given the abundant resources of the region, industry flourished, becoming the dominant "life form" for nearly two centuries of heavy use -- and heavy pollution -- of the natural resources that had first led it here.

A vast natural area that had once numbered its human occupants in nomadic dozens, the Calumet Region eventually became permanent home to millions of people, over multiple generations of human life.   

Where there are people, there is history, and there are artifacts.  There is also mobility, and the distractions of everyday life that make it easy to lose track of that history and its artifacts.

Like historical societies and their museums, which strive to identify, document, and collect historic records and artifacts, this site exists to do a similar job of identifying and highlighting repositories of regional history that are particular to the Southeast Chicago/Northwest Indiana section of the Calumet Region, as well as spotlighting existing local sites that are, in themselves, historically important, although not necessarily recognized widely as such.

And that brings us back to the "Work in Progress" aspect of this site.   One need but spend an afternoon in the museum of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society, in Calumet Park, to learn how rich the area is in historic artifacts and information, much of which walks in through the door of the museum completely unexpectedly.  No doubt, other museums have similar experiences.  

Thus, we will begin this site with a knowledge-, and resource-base that will, undoubtedly, grow as new information "walks in through” our digital “museum doors" and is shared via numerous networking mechanisms.  We are also designing this site so that visitors to it will be able to add their own knowledge of regional history -- documented, we hope -- and share any artifacts to which they may have access, via graphic representations of them, rather than in their actual physical form. 

So, we urge you to join with us in filling the countless blank pages pertaining to the history of the Calumet Region and, especially, the Southeast Chicago part of that region.  Discovering such information before it disappears forever is an exciting, and important, process.  As a past president of the Chicago Historical Society (now known as the Chicago History Museum) once pointed out, the society that loses track of its history has no culture, and is likely to reinvent the same mistakes over and over again.

Kevin P. Murphy & Joann Podkul Murphy  

 


© Kevin Murphy 2016