Happy summer Morton Grovers! The weather is finally getting mild while the flowers are blooming.
This is a great time to visit the Morton Grove Historical Society and Museum. We will be open on Sunday, June 3rd from 12 PM to 2 PM. Starting Saturday, June 9th, we will open the museum from 9 AM to 1 PM for tours while the Farmer's Market opens one hour earlier! We will be closed on Saturday, June 30th in preparation for the Morton Grove Days Commission Independence Day festivities.
The Collecting Morton Grove exhibit is also open to the public in the Slater Annex (see the pictures posted in this blog.) We have items on display collected by the museum and local residents from toys and campaign buttons to matchbooks and greeting cards. You do not want to miss this exhibit!.
We also have interesting military memorabilia from WWI and WWII plus pictures taken in Morton Grove at special gatherings for the fire department and other local organizations. We have have a signed proclamation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt on display too!
We hope that you stop by to check out what the museum has on exhibit. Do not forget to visit the Haupt-Yehl House for a tour to learn about the family and Morton Grove's rich history! What more appropriate thing to do than see a historic farmhouse and buy locally produced items at the Farmer's Market on a hot summer day?
Please visit our Facebook page at anytime and stay tuned for our next blog later this summer!
Happy March Morton Grove history buffs! We are now approaching spring as winter increasingly becomes a distant memory.
This upcoming season, the Morton Grove Historical Society and Museum will have two exhibits to show. The first one beginning in mid-March will be called Collecting Morton Grove. It will contain collections from our donors that are in our archives as well as from area residents from over the decades. There will be matchbook covers, coins, stamps, postcards, arrowheads, hats, buttons, toys and more!
We recently acquired a collection of historic record books of Niles Township from the Morton Grove Public Library. One record book dates to 1843! The image to the left is of minutes in a finely bound leather album from the Niles Township Highway Commission dating to the 1890's. The minutes were on the many present-day streets that we see today.
Throughout mid-March through May, the museum will be open on Sundays 1-3 PM and on weekdays from 10 AM to 1 PM.
Also, a networking breakfast will be held on Tuesday, March 27th from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM at Kappy's Restaurant (Dempster Street and Harlem Avenue) sponsored by the Morton Grove and Niles Chambers of Commerce. You will have the opportunity to hear about the mid-century building (once Top's Big Boy) built in the 1960's and about Alpogianis family's history in the restaurant business. They purchased the building from Top's Big Boy in 1978 and Kappy's has been a Morton Grove establishment for 40 years! This is a FREE event. Make sure to RSVP at 847-965-0330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep an eye out for our next blog in April/May. We hope to see you at the Museum in March! .
Happy December Morton Grove! We cannot believe that it's already the holiday season here at the museum. Time flies by very quick within a blink of an eye.
On Saturday, December 2nd, we held our annual Holly Daze program sponsored by the Morton Grove Days Commission. They worked tirelessly to make the event a huge success. Santa visited Morton Grove that day. He rode on the Morton Grove Public Works sled around the village to visit all the families on his way to the museum. The children enjoyed this indeed! He then showed up at the Helen and John Slater Education Center to listen to our youngest resident's wishes for gifts and the year ahead.
We had over 200 visitors come through the museum to learn about Morton Grove's past including about the Haupt-Yehl family. The family owned the house from 1888 to 1984 on Lincoln Avenue. It was moved that year and a complete restoration was done. By June, 1986, the museum opened up to the community.
Since many people like to decorate their homes for the holidays, we thought of sharing how a Victorian family would have decorated their home between 1888 and 1918. It was generally very simple as you see in the picture of the museum below (taken by our Director Harris Miller, Dec.17th, 2017). Most families had a simple tree and decorations. They did not stand out. Only did they more recently such as in Lincolnwood Towers in Lincolnwood (1950's-present) or Candy Cane Lane in Chicago's Schorsch Village neighborhood (1950's to the early 1970's).
Please keep an eye out for exciting programs, events and museum exhibits in 2018. We hope everyone has a great holiday season and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!
Hello Morton Grovers! It's hard to believe that it's already early November. Where does the time go?
The Morton Grove Historical Society and Museum had two major events take place in September. One being the DoughBoy Restoration Ceremony on Sunday, September 24th. It was followed by our second event which was the grand opening of the "Illinois and Morton Grove in the Great War" exhibit at the museum and the Slater Education Center.
We had several local, state and federal dignitaries come to the program. They included House of Representatives from the 10th District Brad Schneider, Cook County Commissioner Larry Sufferdin, Morton Grove Mayor Dan DiMaria and Trustees from the Village. We had about 60 people altogether in attendance. The MGHS Board of Directors in attendance were President Mark Matz, Vice President/Treasurer Donna Hedrick, Harris Miller, Mike Heuel, and Pat Zmolek.
At the end of the ceremony, Donna Hedrick laid the wreath to honor the soldiers that served our country. Below is a picture of the wreath that was placed. The other picture below is of our dignitaries and our MGHS Board of Directors in front of the restored DoughBoy Statue. The last picture is of our banner for the exhibit opening.
Finally, the museum will be open on Sundays through December 17th from 1 to 3 PM. We hope to see you at there!
Happy September! It's hard to believe that fall and cooler weather is right around the corner. It seems like summer just started. Over the summer, the Morton Grove Historical Society was busy having the Doughboy monument restored.
Here is some background on the Doughboy monument for those not familiar: The monument has been an iconic site on Miller's Mill Road (now present-day Lincoln Avenue) in Morton Grove since 1921. When the first Morton Grove Days carnival was held by the Women's War Working Circle in 1920, they raised funds to commission the statue and purchase the land the Doughboy statue sits upon today. The Women's War Working Circle were a group of volunteers who worked with the Red Cross to support soldiers during WWI.
The land was a park from 1921 to 1952 when the Morton Grove Public Library was constructed behind the statue. The Doughboy was dedicated on July 31st, 1921 by the Women's War Working Circle to those from Morton Grove who fought in WWI from the U.S.' entry in 1917 through the end of the war in 1918.. Below are a few photos from the 1921 dedication.
As the decades passed by, the statue began to show its age. The concrete base was also in need of restoration. We had a restoration company restore the statue and the base. Here is a picture of the fully restored statue above.
On Sunday, September 24th, Morton Grove's iconic Doughboy statue will be rededicated on Lincoln Avenue followed by a tour of the Society's new exhibit, "Illinois & Morton Grove in the Great War - What Happened Before the Doughboy Arrived" at the John & Mary Helen Slater Education Center at 6148 Dempster Street. Please bring family, friends and your neighbors. We will see you then!
Want to learn about Morton Grove's agricultural past? Come visit the Morton Grove Historical Society's Haupt-Yehl Farmhouse. We will be open during the Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9 AM to 12 PM through Saturday, October 14th. Also, the Farmers Market now has extended hours from 8 AM to 1 PM!
Our “Recreation and Leisure History” exhibit opened on May 9th, and with it, various treasures from our archives and collections which highlight the ways people spent their leisure time during Morton Grove’s earliest days have been placed on display. Vintage ice-skates, video clips from black & white silent films, and a 19th Century Penny Farthing bicycle highlight how much the world has changed–and alternately, how much it hasn’t!
Beyond artifacts, one immensely valuable and often overlooked aspect of our collections played an instrumental role in the development of this exhibit–oral histories. During the late 1970’s and throughout much of the 1980’s, the Morton Grove Historical Society interviewed many long-term residents of the village who, many in their 70’s and 80’s at that point, were able to provide us with a lasting portrait of life in Morton Grove at the turn of the 20th Century–including information about what residents did for fun. In our mission to preserve the stories of Morton Grovers of the past, few elements perform this function and capture the minutiae of daily life with more clarity than an oral history. Occasionally, you may even uncover a tidbit of information that would otherwise have been lost to the winds of time. Take, for example, an undated oral history with Dorothy Gerber, who grew up on Callie Avenue in early 20th Century Morton Grove. Dorothy’s interview reads similarly to many of the others, nostalgic talk of a simpler time and way of life, but it’s her mention of a medicine man that is worth noting.
Today a vanished bastion of American culture, medicine men–and the greater medicine show with which they traveled–were enormously popular during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Capitalizing on a growing interest in matters of public health, the traveling bandwagon would come to town along with a circus or carnival of sorts, featuring entertainment such as a freak show, a magician, and Vaudeville acts. The medicine man himself was always at the center of the show, usually peddling a “patented” tonic or elixir that could miraculously cure myriad ailments, from liver disease to insomnia.
Dorothy Gerber’s quote reads as follows: “(He) used to give quite a show to drum up business for his ointments, salves, and his ‘snake oil’ guaranteed to cure all aches and pains…including toothache for three bottles for a dollar. The medicine man and traveling carnivals would set up shop in vacant lots and play the village for several days or a week.”
A passing mention; no new information we didn’t already know about medicine shows. However, some aspects of Morton Grove’s past are heavily represented in our collections, while others remain somewhat of a mystery– and nowhere else in our collections is there any mention of a medicine show visiting Morton Grove. In preserving this conversation with Dorothy, we’ve been given a window to the past that otherwise would have been lost. As we researched the many ways Morton Grove’s residents might have spent their free time and had fun long ago, this singular quote played an important role in noting a form of early entertainment many of them likely indulged in.
Learn more about the history of medicine shows here.
March marks Women’s History Month, which is a time to reflect upon the achievements of women, to muse about how far we have come, what sorts of hurdles we’ve yet to surmount. The Morton Grove Historical Museum is celebrating by featuring the stories of extraordinary Morton Grove women, which can currently be seen on display in our education center.
Some people argue that the basic tenets of feminism are as necessary today as they were 100 years ago, while some feel that equality for women has already been achieved. Regardless of your position on the spectrum, women’s issues remain at the forefront of cultural and political discourse in 2015– access to contraceptives, equal wages, and sexual assault prevention feature prominently in news coverage almost daily, and the concept of feminism itself has recently been hotly debated. A century has not yet passed since American women received the legal right to vote on August 18th 1920–a fact which makes it feel startlingly recent. The 19th Amendment reflected decades of painful struggle on the part of women who wanted the same benefits of basic constitutional right afforded to men, and its political ramifications have been staggering. One hundred years ago, American women could not yet vote, and today, we are potentially on the precipice of our first woman president.
However, the historic reflections of this cultural touchstone extend far beyond the political. During the early 20th Century, as the suffrage movement gained considerable traction, the prospect of evolved rights and freedoms for women was perceived by many as a threat. The concept of this threat found its way into all corners of day-to-day life and culture– film, literature, newspaper cartoons and editorials–frequently couched in a tongue-in-cheek humor that only thinly veiled something far more sinister: fear of what would happen to society if women had rights, and subsequent anger towards women who were working to gain those rights.
These bits of propaganda often implied that women suffragists were unattractive, while frequently insinuating that the desire for equal rights is analogous to a desire to suppress men:
They portrayed suffragists as stodgy, humorless women whom no men wanted in the first place–likely their reason for taking up such a cause:
They also frequently implied that traditional “women’s” jobs such as child-rearing and household maintenance would suffer were women allowed to vote or, even more horrifyingly, would fall on the shoulders of men:
Some even went so far as to suggest that the only reason women were fighting for their rights in the first place was out of desperation for male attention:
Here, in the collections of the Morton Grove Historical Museum, the program from the 1914 Morton Grove Volunteer Fire Company Annual Dance can answer various questions about what life was like 100 years ago: reports from the fire department itself discuss up-to-date technology used by the department, information about the village of Morton Grove itself discusses amenities considered state-of-the-art for the era (a “model” water works system, electric lights, gas, cement sidewalks), and ad space in the program speaks both to the types and names of local businesses in the area and the average cost of goods. As for what life was like for women at this time, a cursory flip through the program will say very little. However, a featured essay titled “Woman, For Instance” speaks volumes:
The essay, a parody piece, is written as if by a suffragette. The author of the article, the editor of the “Morton Grove Cream Jug Chronicle” believes “she” has “as much right to suffer as a man has.” The essay goes on to mock the efforts of women hoping to achieve the same rights, employment capabilities, and social status as men by implying, among other things, that if women were judges, they would spitefully jail any woman dressed better than them, or that if women wore pants, they would steal from their own pockets. A lecture accompanying this piece would be held, the author concludes, on February 31st, 1914– one gets the sense from reading this essay that the author believed firmly that the likelihood of women ever gaining the vote was on par with the likelihood of February 31st ever happening.
Six years later, as we well know, women did achieve the right to vote, and the remainder of the 20th Century would see many towering achievements for women. However, this essay represents what was a persistent cultural perception in early 20th Century America: that women were generally frivolous, preoccupied with issues of a domestic nature, and intellectually inferior to men. Despite all that women have achieved, has this cultural perception been eradicated a century later? Does it persist?
Hi everyone! Welcome to the Official Blog of the Morton Grove Historical Society and Museum. It's become increasingly crucial that museums have a web presence. Small ones like we are, have consistently worked to attract interest and support from younger folks or any age with internet savvy. We have decided that a blog was an important new communication tool that we needed to offer. Here, we can talk with the community about what the Society and Museum have been up to, garner feedback about what people would like to see in the future, and share timely and interesting tidbits.
Morton Grove is an entirely unique town with unique tales to tell. The village, broadly personifies so much social progress and cultural development, and in this way, it has a deep and important narrative to share. Since the late 19th Century, Morton Grove has been a small railroad town of renegade settlers, a microcosm of the raucous 1920’s, a classic example of the post-World War II suburban housing boom, and so much more. In essence, Morton Grove tells the story of America. Our hope is that through exhibitions, programming and community events, we can help connect Morton Grovers with the intersection of their own unique stories and their greater historic relevance. Let’s make this blog serve as a platform for discussing all of the rich past we share!
We’ll try to update as frequently as we can, so please check back!
(Our header photo on this blog is an early 1960’s photograph looking westbound on Dempster from Harrer Park, an excellent visual representation of mid-century America and also of how much the American suburban landscape has changed in the past half century!)
The Board, Volunteers and Staff of the Morton Grove Historical Society and Museum write about topics that are relevant to our current programs, events, collections, collective history, or sometimes topics they just find interesting and they hope you do too. Thanks for stopping by!