NHD 2016 Topic Ideas PDF Print E-mail

2016 nhd logoGOT CURIOSITY??

Here's a list of different ideas related to the theme "Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in Chicago/Illinois History."

History Fair now offers you topics – some of them are specific, some of them of broad – but in all cases,  we give you only a title and leave it to you to do the work to find out what it is about and what kind of argument you want to make regarding its rights and responsibilities. Often you will have to dig deep to find a good and important story.  Treat most topics as ideas to inspire your own interests.

2016 TOPICS IDEAS -- September 1 posting, more to come

Power, Authority, and Governance

Interest in this area involves the way that government functions, how politicians lead, laws made and impact, and how citizens participate in government.

●      Exploring the Rights to Free Speech and Assembly: the Chicago 8 Trial

●      Encounters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention (NU McCormick Collections) (CPL HWLC Special Collections) (National Archives)

●      Chicago Teachers Union: Encountering Workers Rights and Collective Bargaining (CHM)

●      Exploring New Ways of City Governance in the Harold Washington Years (CHM, CPL HWLC Special Collections)

●      Exploring Progressive Encounters with Industrial Capitalism: Hull House Reformers in Europe

●      World Parliament of Religions: Exploring Different Faiths in a Peaceful Exchange

●      Pullman Strike: A Landmark Encounter Between Capitalists and Labor

●      Lincoln-Douglas Debates: Encounter and Exchange of the Nation’s Future (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library) (UC Special Collections)

●      Haymarket Affair: Encountering Capitalism, Exchanging Political Ideas (CHM)

●      Harold Washington and “Council Wars:” Encountering Resistance to Exchange of Power (CPL Harold Washington Archives)

●      Pullman Town: Exchanging Freedom for a Job (CPL HWLC Special Collections)

●      Exchanges in the Wigman: How Presidential Candidates were Selected

●      Exploring Anti-Slavery: Lincoln and Colonization

●      1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago

●      Chicago and the Civil War (Encyclopedia of Chicago, CPL HWLC Special Collections)

●      Exploring Racial Equality in the Medical Field: Leighton and the Anti-Trust Lawsuits (CPL HWLC Special Collections)

●      Exploring Independent Schools for African-Americans: The Howalton School

●      Lincoln and the Building of the Nation’s Infrastructure: Exploring Government Responsibility

●      Encountering Segregation in College and Exchanging for an Integrated Roosevelt College

●      Military Encounters in City Disturbances: Fort Sheridan, Armory…. (Highland Park Hist Society)

●      Ida B. Wells and the International Exchanges to End Lynching

●      Encountering the Atom Bomb and Exchanging for a Sane Nuclear Policy (UC, UIC)

●      Shakman Decree: Exchange Machine Politics for Civil Service

●      Exchanging Slavery for Statehood: Illinois Moves from Northwest Territory

●      Gautreaux v HUD: Encountering Discrimination in Public Housing, Exchanging for Integration

●      Encounters in Dissent: The Red Squad Exchanges Bill of Rights for Vigilance? (CHM)

●      Beverly Area Planning Association: Exchanging Flight and Courts for Purposeful Integration (UIC)


●      Great Migration: Encounters between the Old Settlers and New Migrants

●      Post-Vietnam War Asian Communities in Chicago: Encountering America, Exchanging Culture

●      Urban Migration: Encountering the Industrial City (CHM)

●      Irish in the Hull-House Neighborhood (CHM)

●      Racial Exchange: Settlement Houses in the African American Community (CHM)

●      "Old Settlers" of Black Chicago: Exploring a New Community (CHM)

●      Encountering Genocide and Exchanging for Healing: The Cambodian Community of Chicago

●      Segregation and White Flight in Neighborhoods: Negative Racial Encounters (CHM)

●      Chinese in Chicago (CHM)

●      Irish in Chicago (CHM)

●      Building a Mexican Community: The Trailblazers on the South East Side (CHM)

●      Nativists vs.Immigrants (CHM)

●      Puerto Ricans in Chicago (CHM, Special Collections of DePaul U)

●      Nationalism vs. Americanization of Chicago’s Catholic Churches (CHM)

●      Great Migration(s) and Chicago's African American Community (CHM)

●      Hull-House Maps and Papers: Explorations in Documenting the Immigrant Community (UIC)

●      Exploring and Exchanging Ways of Worship: The Jewish Classical Reform Movement… The Moors...the Pentecostals


Interest in this area involves studying labor,  trade, business, advertising, consumerism

●      Chicago Board of Trade: Exchanging Grains for Gold (CHM)

●      Silver vs. Gold Struggle: Encountering Populism (CHM, UIC)

●      Exploring Retail: Montgomery Ward, Marshall Fields (CHM)

●      Encountering Big Government: Resistance to New Deal Programs (CHM)

●      Charles Gates Dawes and the Dawes Plan: Exchanging Peace for Reparations (NU McCormick Collection)

●      Mexican-Chicago Home Clubs: Exchanging Savings for Community-Building

●      Arbitration: Exchanging Mediation of Labor & Capital to Solve Encounters (e.g. Stockyards 1918, Clothing Workers, etc.)

●      Explorations in Quality Lower-Income Housing before the Public Housing Act: The Rosenwald Homes, Fields Garden Apartments, etc.

●      The Making of Standard Time Zones: Facilitating Exchange (CHM, NL)

●      Exchanging Millions for Philanthropic Works: Julius Rosenwald

The Origins of the Food Stamp Program: A New Exchange for Illinois Farmers

Scientific, Medical, and Technological Innovation

●      Railroads:Transcontinental RR.. Elisha Talbott and the Railway Age...the Creation of Suburbs (CHM)

●      Exploring New Methods of Trade: Role of the Illinois Central Railroad in Chicago (CHM, Newberry)

●      Cyrus McCormick and the Exchange between Productivity and Farming (CHM)

●      Chicago’s Sisters of Mercy – Medical Exploration (CHM)

●      Encountering the 1918 Influenza Epidemic and Exploring New Ways of Public Health (CHM, CPL)

●      Encountering Transportation in the Service of Exchange: The I& M Canal versus Shipping and Railroads (CHM, Lewis University, National Archives, CPL)

●      Explorations in Communication: Telephone….Telegraph and the Impact of Faster Exchanges

●      Manhattan Project: Encountering the Most Deadly Enemy (UC Special Collections)

●      Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Exploring and Exchanging Ideas of Scientific Responsibility (CHM, UC Special Collections)

●      A Troubling Exchange? Stateville Prisoners as Medical Subjects (UC Special Collections, State of Illinois Archives)

●      Exchanging Beer for Pure Milk: Exploring Ways to Reduce Infant Mortality in Chicago

●      Ulysses Grant Dailey: Surgeon, Teacher, and Ambassador (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      The Oriental Institute and the Explorations and Exchanges with Egypt

Astrophysics at the U of Chicago Yerkes Observatory: Explorations in Space

Women, Gender and Family History

Interest in this area involves studying the historical experiences of men or women, boys and girls, transgendered person. LGBT could issues also fall into this category.  What made their experiences significant? How did individuals and society define what it mean to be a man or woman at various times in our history--be it popular culture, work, sports, etc....  How and why did family life change over time in and particular contexts?

●      Ellen Gates Starr: Arts and Activism (CHM)

●      Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement: Exploring Social Reform (Willard WCTU Archives)

●      Exploring Reform and Encountering Inequality: Hull House and Women's Rights (CHM, UIC)

●      Chicago Commission of Women’s Affairs: Exploring Equality (NU McCormick Collections)

●      Elizabeth Clarke and the Illinois Commission on the Status of Women (NU McCormick Collections)

●      International Exchanges in the WCTU: The Global Fight to End Alcohol Abuse (Willard, WCTU Archives)

●      E. Spencer Parsons and the Clergy Consultation Service Encounter Abortion Laws (NU McCormick Collections, UIC)

●      Teresa Dean: Female War Correspondent: Encounters as a Woman Writer in International Conflicts (NU McCormick Collections)

●      Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and Exploring Reproductive Justice (NU McCormick Collections)

●      Underground Exchange: JANE and Abortion Rights (NU McCormick Collections, UIC, CHM)

●      Chicago Women’s Liberation Union: Encountering Sexism (NU McCormick Collections, CHM)

●      Exploring Feminism: Aleta Styers and the National Organization for Women (NU McCormick Collections)

●      Encountering Masculinity: The Armour Mission

●      International Women’s Year: Exploring and Exchanging Global Connections, Differences - the 1975 llinois Delegation in Mexico (UIC)

●      Latina Feminism--Political Paths of Ruth “Rhea” Mojica Hammer

●      Women’s Trade Union League: Encounters and Exchanges between Labor Movement and Women’s Movement (UIC, CHM)

●      Encounters During the AIDS Crisis: Community-Building, ACT-Up

●      Exchanging the Closet for the Public: Out of the Closet Empowerment in the LGBQT Communities

●      Encountering Prejudice, Exchanging Respect: The African-American Clubwomen

●      Exchanging Domesticity for Civic Engagement in the 19th Century: Women’s Clubs (suburban such as Highland Park, city and neighborhoods, African-American)

●      Judy Baar Topinka: Exchanging Party Identification for Popular Approach

●      Esther Saperstein: Using Political Election to Advance the Causes of Women

●      Joanne Alter: Exploring Ways to Build and Maintain Elected Political Leadership for Women

●      Jane Byrne: Encounters of an Iconoclastic Mayor

Exploring Integration: The Young Women's Christian Association Exchanges Discrimination for Equality

Arts, Architecture, Design, and Cultural History

Art, theater, architecture, and various methods of creative expression, and how they can both reflect and shape society, fall into this category.

●      Exploring Modernism and Innovation: 1933 World’s Fair Century of Progress (NU McCormick Collections) (CPL Washington Special Collections)

●      Exchanging Worlds, Exploring and Encountering Empire: World’s Fair Columbian Exposition (CPL World’s Columbian Exposition Collection, CHM)

●      Musical Exchange and Exploration: Delta Migration and the Chicago Blues (CHM, CPL, Columbia College)

●      Balloon Frame Houses: Exploring Mass Housing (CHM)

●      Chicago Film Industry: Exploring a New Consumer Culture (CHM)

●      WPA: Exploring Government Support for the Arts (CHM)

●      From Rural to Urban Society: Exchanging and Changing Cultures (CHM)

●      Exploring Urban Space: How the World's Columbian Exposition Reordered Space in Chicago (CHM)

●      Fight Against 1992 Chicago World's Fair (CHM)

●      Richard Wright: Encountering Racism with the Pen (CPL Harsh Collection, NU McCormick Collections)

●      Bailiwick Repertory and the Pride Performance Series: Exploring Society Onstage (CPL Chicago Theater Collection)

●      Charlemae Rollins: Encountering Racism: Exchanging for Multicultural Literature for Children (CPL-Harsh Collection)

●      Surrealism Art Movement in Chicago: Exploring the Revolutionary Subconscious

●      AfriCOBRA: Encountering Racism, Exchanging for Creative, Empowering Art

●      Explorations, Encounters, Exchange in Classical Music: Florence Price (Columbia College)

●      Exploring a New World of Music AACM (Columbia College, CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Austin Gang and the Encounters and Exchanges with Early Jazz Masters

●      Ravinia Park: Exchanging Amusement for Culture (Highland Park Historical Society)

●      Dickson Mounds and Exploration, Encounters, and Exchange -- or Exploitation? (Illinois State Archives, CHM)

●      Explorations in Theater: The Hull House Little Theater Movement (UIC)

●      Artistic Encounters with the Marginalized: Carlos Cortez

●      Exploring Art and Feminism, Feminism and Art: Artemesia (or other feminist art initiatives)

●      Eunice Tietjens- Modern Woman in the World  (Newberry)

●      From North Dakota to Uganda: Era Bell Thompson, Traveler and Journalist for Ebony (CPL, Harsh)

●      Explorations in Reaching the Sky

●      Encounters with Power: Journalist Ethel Payne of the Chicago Defender

●      Exchanges between, Art, Politics, and Community in the Wall of Respect and the Black Arts Mural Movement

●      Margaret Burroughs and the Explorations in Art, Peace, and Justice

●      Exploring New Media: The Popularization of Radio … Television

●      Exchanging Open Communications for Order:   New Media Meets the FCC

●      Exploring New Designs in an Exchanged Setting: The Chicago Bauhaus (AIC, UIC, IIT)

Exchanging Demolition for Historic Preservation

Environmental and Geographical History

How did the land shape the lives of people, industry, and the built environment--and how did they shape the land to what consequences? How did concerns about the environment or lack of concern cause people to act in history?

●      Preventing Exchange, Creating Encounter: Chicago’s Expressways (CHM)

●      Early Routes of Exchange: Indian Trails of Chicago (CHM)

●      Preservation Encounters Urban Renewal (CHM)

●      Carl Akeley and the Taxidermy of the  Field Museum: Exploration of Animals and Habitats

●      Zoos… Exchanging Showtime for Responsible Stewardship of Animals

●      Keeping the Indiana Dunes as Nature: Exchanging Industrial Growth for Environmental Conservation (UC Special Collections)

●      Annexation: Exchanging Town Government for Municipal Services

●      Great Lakes, Mississippi River and the Significance of the Portage: Exchange and Trade (CHM, Lewis U, NARA)

●      Exchanging Urbanization for Green Space: The Forest Preserve System (UIC)

●      Encountering Pollution and Fighting for a Better Environment (UIC)

Illinois as "Frontier"

●      Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable: Exploring a New Settlement (CHM, CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Fur Trade: Chicago/Illinois' Place in Global Economy of 18th Century

●      Fort Dearborn Massacre: Exchanging Victory for Exile (CHM)

●      Black Hawk War: Violent Encounters, Exchanges for Land (CHM)

●      Dreams of Empire: the French, British and Americans in Illinois Country (CHM)

●      Chicago and the Multi-Ethnic Frontiers (CHM)

●      Metis of Chicago: Encountering Two Worlds (CHM)

●      Native Americans, the French and Yankees in Early Chicago: Rights in Conflict (CHM)

●      Early Explorers or Colonizers: The French in Illinois (CHM)

●      The Great Annexation: Exchanging Townships to Become Part of the City

●      Gurdon Hubbard: Exchanging Exploring and Walking for Settling and Investing

●      Illinois during the American Revolution: Exchanges Among the British, Spanish, French and Americans

Sports and Recreation

The daily experiences of people can often be defined by the ways that they pursue recreational opportunities. Free time and interests help to define life for individuals and or groups be it: professional, amateur, or commercial/marketing/business.

Civil Rights

The history of race relations and the fight for civil rights in a dominant theme and story in US History. Civil rights issues can involve African-Americans, Latino/as, women, or people from other "minority" groups fighting for equality.

●      Black Codes in Illinois: Racial Encounters (CHM)

●      Encountering Segregation: 1919 Race Riots

●      Emmett Till (CHM, CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Standing Up for Gay Rights (CHM; see university collections too)

●      American Indians in Chicago during Progressive Era (CHM)

●      Catholic Interracial Council vs. Illlinois Club for Catholic Women (CHM)

●      Catholic Missionary Sisters – Breaking Racial Barriers (WLA, CHM)

●      Exchanging the Reservation for the City: The Off the Reservation Act and Encountering Discrimination and Resistance in the Chicago Indian Community(CHM, UC Special Collections)

●      Exploring Equal Housing: Chicago Freedom Movement (CHM)

●      Racial Exchange in Labor: CIO and Integrated Unions: (CHM)

●      Explorations and Encounters on the Road from Enslavement to Freedom: Underground Railroad of Illinois (CHM)

●      ACLU vs. the Nazi March in Skokie (CHM)

●      Encountering Segregation and Willis Wagons (CHM)

●      African Americans at the World's Columbian Exposition (1893) and the Century of Progress (1933): Comparing Encounters (CHM)

●      Robert Abbott, John Sengstacke and the Chicago Defender: Media Encounters Racism (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Warren Bacon v. Benjamin Willis (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Chicago Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (CHM, CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Coalition of Black Trade Unionists: Encountering a Need for More than a Union (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Chester Commodore: Using Cartoons to Encounter Racism (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Congress of Racial Equality: Exploring Equal Education (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Fighting for Radical Equality and Justice: Ishmael Flory (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Illinois Writers Project: Providing Exchange in Literature (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Richard Jones and the 8th Illinois National Guard Regiment: Encountering Military Segregation (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Prexy Nesbitt and the Anti-Apartheid Movement: Encountering International Racism (CPL Harsh Collection, Columbia College)

●      Southern Africa Support Group (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Religious Interracial Exchange: Friendship House Chicago and Ann Stull (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Black Soldiers in the Civil War: Exchanging Safety in the North to Serve the Cause (CHM)

●      Explore, Encounter, Exchange: Madeline Stratton Morris and the Integration of Black History into the Curriculum (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Exploring Independent Schools as Alternate Options: Howalton  (CPL, Harsh Collection)

●      Encountering Three Oppressions and Exchanging for Activism: Addie Wyatt, a Fighter on Three Fronts (CPL Harsh Collection)

●      Fair Employment Practices Commission: Encountering Discrimination, Exchanging for Legal Justice (CPL Harsh and HWLC, National Archives)

(   ) means that there are archived papers and records of individuals and groups at the institution

AIC-BR=Art Institute of Chicago, Burnham-Ryerson Library

CHM=Chicago History Museum Research Center

Harsh=Harsh Collection at the Woodson Regional Library (CPL)

NARA=National Archives and Records Administration, Chicago Branch

UIC=Special Collections Library in the Daley Library at University of Illinois at Chicago

WLA=Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University, Lake Shore Campus



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