Flappers, G-Men, and Prohibition’s Legacies

Prohibition evokes vivid images from fiction and history. Introduction Prohibition evokes vivid images from fiction and history: wild parties from The Great Gatsby, the Valentine’s Day gangland murders in Chicago, or presidential candidate Herbert Hoover’s 1928 comment, when he called Prohibition a “great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far reaching in purpose.” That[…]

Jazz, Chicago, and the Great Migration

How did the Great Migration of African-Americans in the twentieth century affect the development of jazz music in Chicago? Introduction During the period known as the Great Migration (1915-1970), six million African-Americans moved from southern states to urban areas in the North and West. In 1900, ninety percent of black people in the United States[…]

The Jungle and the Community: Workers and Reformers in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago

How does Upton Sinclair’s representation of this community in The Jungle compare to the accounts of sociologists and reformers? Introduction In November and December of 1904, the New York writer Upton Sinclair spent seven weeks in Chicago’s meatpacking district—the Union Stock Yard and the surrounding neighborhood, known as Packingtown or Back of the Yards. Sinclair[…]

Chicago Workers during the Long Gilded Age

What were working conditions like in Chicago during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? What efforts did workers make to change these conditions? Introduction The United States experienced extraordinary social and economic change between the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of World War I. In 1870, only one-quarter of Americans lived in cities.[…]