Newsletter – October 2007
Calumet Heritage Partnership
To identify, preserve and reclaim the natural, historical and recreational heritage
of the Calumet region of Illinois and Indiana
13300 S. Baltimore, Chicago, Illinois 60633 (773) 646-0436 www.calumetheritage.org
The next meeting of the Calumet Heritage Partnership will be held –
DATE: Thursday, November 1, 2007
CHP HOLDS SUCCESSFUL EIGHTH ANNUAL HERITAGE CONFERENCE
“Everything we say about the past, everything we learn and share about the past, can shape the future.” With these words Dr. Sharon Ann Holt of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities at Rutgers University concluded her keynote address on “Doing Industrial History after Demolition: The Next Day, and the Next” at CHP’s eighth annual Heritage Conference held October 12 at Chicago State University. And she set the tone for the day, whose theme was “Beyond Artifacts: The Living Element in Industrial Heritage Areas.” The experience of this area’s history is made alive each day through memories, through the system we inhabit (Holt: “right now, we are surrounded by a 20th century world made of steel), and through the landscape, which she described as “an interpretive canvas”. Her talk drew on a rich fund of examples including her experiences with projects at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York, the President’s House controversy at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, and the city and community effort to tell the story of Bethlehem Steel. After the talk, a lively thirty minute discussion ensued.
Two other talks continued the theme of shaping a future using materials from the past. Leon Fink and Jeff Helgeson of the University of Illinois Chicago and the Chicago Center for Working Class Studies discussed the Labor Trail, a map filled with important labor history sites, many in the Calumet region. The map is now also on-line, as an “interactive labor trail”, and the audience was taken through a number of ways in which community members can discuss existing sites on the map, add new ones, and extend the labor trail across the state line into Indiana. In the next talk, Mark Bouman and Marian Byrnes brought the group up-to-date on CHP’s involvement in the Acme Steel project. Their presentation featured a number of photos and artifacts that were rescued from the Coke Plant while CHP had control of it, and it pointed to the rollout of the new Calumet Industrial Heritage Archives project.
After lunch, conference attendees made the short drive from Chicago State to Historic Pullman, which was hosting its annual house walk on this date. Dr. Jane Eva Baxter of DePaul University led the group along freshly laid paths at the Pullman factory building, discussing elements of Pullman history, the ongoing restoration efforts, and her own archeological investigations on the site. The Acme “trove” was also available for viewing. Thanks much to Mike Wagenbach, Site Supervisor at the Pullman State Historic Site, for arranging this tour.
The conference facilities in the New Academic Library at Chicago State seemed “just right” for the fifty or so attendees. About a dozen exhibitors displayed posters, videos, and artifacts in the Sun Room. Once again, Mike Siola of Chicago State handled the local arrangements with quiet aplomb. Many know Mike as the Research Specialist in charge of the university’s Calumet Environmental Resource Center and as the co-chair of the Lake Calumet Ecosystem Partnership; it’s time that his unsung efforts on behalf of CHP were, well, sung. Thanks Mike! (And thank you, too, Kate Fleming of the library!).
Mike was joined on the conference planning committee by Marian Byrnes, Mark Bouman, and Mike Longan. Let me also single out Mike Longan’s contributions by saying this:
Please look at the much invigorated CHP website at calumetheritage.org. If you go there, it is almost as if you went to the conference. Mike has uploaded a copy of Sharon Ann Holt’s keynote address, various links concerning the labor trail map, links to the Pullman virtual museum, and a fine collection of photos contributed by Paul Myers and Rod Sellers. One of our goals this year has been to make the website the real place of record for the partnership, and with Mike’s ongoing work, I think this has become reality.
Finally, a big thank you to all the speakers, exhibitors, and attendees. Anyone who was there could feel the buzz of interesting and significant work going on. It would be great to share it with a wider audience, which we hope to do at next year’s conference, preliminarily scheduled to be held at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
CALUMET INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE ARCHIVES TO BE “LAUNCHED”
Friday, November 7, will be the official launch date of the Calumet Industrial Heritage Archives. For the past year, folks from the Pullman State Historic Site, Southeast Chicago Historical Museum, and the Calumet Heritage Partnership have been hard at work selecting, annotating, and digitizing priceless photographs from their collections with support from a grant from the Illinois State Library. It’s now ready to go online at www.pullman-museum.org . By clicking “exhibits” and then “images” you can gain access to the collection. Many of the images having to do with Acme Coke are under the letter “A” and items with a call letter beginning with “chp” are in the partnership’s collection. Many, many thanks to Frank Beberdick and Kate Corcoran for their countless hours of work on this project on CHP’s behalf. They’ve worked alongside a number of other great employees and volunteers from the partner organizations, but let’s especially single out Rod Sellers of the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum (and the CHP Board) and Linda Beierle Bullen and Mike Wagenbach of the Pullman Site for our thanks.