Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Introductory Materials : Acknowledgements
Introductory Materials
Introduction to the Encyclopedia of Chicago
List of Staff and Consultants
List of Contributors

Funding and Acknowledgements


The electronic Encyclopedia was made possible through the generous support of the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

Support for the print version, which forms the substantial core of the electronic Encyclopedia, came from the National Endowment for the Humanities*, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, Bank One, The Boeing Company, BP Foundation, Sara Lee Foundation, Dr. Scholl Foundation, and Otho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute.


Chicago–a metropolis of such great magnitude, with a populace so impassioned by the history of the people and places around them–deserves a project of extraordinary scope. A project worthy of this metropolitan region only could be achieved through a truly collaborative approach involving numerous institutions, hundreds of individuals, and hours upon hours of effort.

Following the great popularity of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland, published in 1987 by Indiana University Press, the Press approached the Chicago Historical Society about leading an effort to create an encyclopedia on the history of Chicago. Initial efforts to move forward on this new encyclopedia project stimulated great interest and enthusiasm, but the project eventually stalled, and the idea for an encyclopedia of Chicago history lay dormant for several years.

Happily, a trio of editors–James R. Grossman, Vice President for Research and Education at the Newberry Library; Ann Durkin Keating, Professor of History at North Central College; and Janice L. Reiff, Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles–revitalized the idea, greatly improved upon the original approach and scope, and found a happy home for the project at the Newberry Library. Their vision, their hard work, and their scholarly guidance is evident in every part of the electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago.

During the early planning stages of the project, before the World Wide Web became a ubiquitous tool of historical scholarship and research, Jan Reiff identified and pursued the great potential in an electronic version of the Encyclopedia. She recognized how the nature of the Web, its system of linkages and multiple pathways, complemented and furthered the editors' goals for the Encyclopedia. Her vision and dedication to the electronic Encyclopedia has been the driving force behind its planning and development.

Cartographic Editor Michael Conzen has played an ongoing role in conceiving and developing the maps created for the Encyclopedia and continues to advise on their transformation from print to electronic format. Dennis McClendon's efforts as Cartographic Designer contributed to the visually compelling and intellectually stimulating maps that appeared first in the print Encyclopedia. His continuing involvement in the project will help to assure the quality and power of the maps as they appear in the online Encyclopedia.

The metropolitan scope of this project required the participation of institutions from throughout the region, including the Newberry Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, Calumet Regional Archives of Indiana University Northwest, Chicago Public Library's Harold Washington Library Center, Woodstock Public Library, Chicago Metropolis 2020, Open Lands Project, Chicago Architecture Foundation, DuPage County Historical Museum, Lake County Discovery Museum, Lakes Region Historical Society, WTTW-TV, and libraries at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University. The Library of Congress, Prelinger Archive, University of Iowa, and University of Connecticut also contributed materials.

The two Interpretive Digital Essays (IDE) required particular focus and efforts from numerous contributors. Louis Cain, David Solzman, and Carl Smith met with the editors during the early stages of the planning process and helped to shape the goals and structure of the "Water in Chicago" IDE; Cain, Solzman, and Theodore Karamanski then joined with Ann Keating to write the IDE's four central essays. In an innovative effort of interdisciplinary education and scholarship, Carl Smith and Brian Dennis developed a course at Northwestern University on the use of computers in teaching and communicating history; building upon this experience and with the assistance of students in the course, including Sarah Ansari, Jenna Carls, Kimberly Kocek, Andrew Kurland, Kathryn Schumaker, Milena Zasadzien, Sherri Berger, Kathryn Burns-Howard, and Courtney Podraza, they developed "The Plan of Chicago" IDE.

Numerous staff members at the three partner institutions–the Newberry Library, Northwestern University, and the Chicago Historical Society–brought their expertise and perspective to the project.

Newberry Library President Charles Cullen has been an extraordinary partner in this decade-long enterprise. His understanding of the importance of producing both print and electronic versions was critical to securing support for the project, and his personal commitment to bringing both publications to fruition supported the Encyclopedia from the beginning. Douglas Knox, the Managing Editor of the print version of the Encyclopedia, was an essential contributor and adviser at every point in the development of the electronic version. Also at the Newberry, Tobias Higbie, Erika Hartings, and Ginger Shulick offered their knowledge and assistance.

President Henry Bienen of Northwestern University and Vice President Mort Rahimi have supported the project through their institution's key contributions to the electronic Encyclopedia, thus ensuring their role as a full and essential partner in this enterprise. At Northwestern University Academic Technologies, a team of media architects, software developers, media specialists, and designers created the Encyclopedia's platform, the essential building blocks upon which the Encyclopedia stands and from which it will grow. Their role was not merely to implement ideas, text, and sources that authors and editors brought to them. By exploring and developing the connections within the Encyclopedia, by constructing the tools with which the pieces of the Encyclopedia were organized and viewed, and by creating a comprehensive structure for presenting a broad range of materials, they helped to shape the intellectual and analytical content of this resource. Bob Taylor, Director of Academic Technologies; Bill Parod, Architect for Scholarly Technologies; Harlan Wallach, Architect for Media Technologies; Jonathan Smith, Architect for Distributed Learning; Jeff Cousens, Software Developer; Christopher Wallace, Media Designer; and Digital Media Specialists Stefani Foster, Jeremy Brunjes, William Beckley, Lauren Holliday, and Jon Fernandez all brought creativity and energy to the project and are responsible for the Encyclopedia's technological innovations and its potential for growth. Wendy Leopold at Northwestern University also played an important role in the launching of the Encyclopedia.

Nearly every staff member at the Chicago Historical Society contributed in one form or another to the development of the Encyclopedia of Chicago. President Lonnie Bunch and his predecessors Ellsworth Brown and Douglas Greenberg supported the Encyclopedia project from its early conceptual stages through the development and launch of this electronic version. Russell Lewis, Andrew W. Mellon Director for Collections and Research, and Director of Publications Rosemary Adams served as Illustration Editors for the print Encyclopedia; Lewis also oversaw the development of the electronic Encyclopedia. Project Director Sarah Marcus supervised the transition of the Encyclopedia from its print to its electronic format. Scanning Technician Aimee Marshall and Research Assistants Gwen Jordan, Tom Perrin, and Brandon Ruud made great contributions to the project. Director of Information Services Cheryl Obermeyer, Web Editor Nancy Ross, and Web Developer Enrique Gonzalez played critical roles in the development of the electronic Encyclopedia. Other staff members who played significant and lasting roles include John Alderson, Usama Alshaibi, Peter Alter, Nathaniel Arata, Patrick Ashley, Marne Bariso, Emily Benedict, AnneMarie Chase, Michael Cleavenger, Courtney Collie, Jay Crawford, Matt Crenshaw, Luciana Crovato, Martin Cusack, Slawomir Dabrowski, Lauren Dolan, Joshua Eisenberg, Shamra Fallon, Mary Fisher, Jill Grannan, Lori Hall-Araujo, Akane Henriquez, Beth Hubbartt, Justin Huyck, Gwen Ihnat, Gena Johnson, Julie Katz, Maureen King, Cathy LaShea, Timothy Long, Tedi Marshall, Lesley Martin, Shari Massey, Rob Medina, Cynthia Mendez, Sarah Miller, Heidi Moisan, Leigh Moran, Archie Motley, Bob Nauert, Emily Nordstrom, Monika Otting, Don Pasqualini, John Russick, Marie Scatena, Daniel Scholzen, Melinda Spitzer, John Tallon, Carl Turchan, Deborah Vaughn, Jordan Walker, Audrey Womack, and Ray Yang. As always, the project could not have been completed without the work of interns and volunteers, including Caroline Van Ness, Nick Joyce, Andrea Krejczyk, Rima Kuprys, Tracy Drake, Eliza Plous, Dylan Plattwood, Marge Fahrenbach, Joe Gavin, Elizabeth Hoffman, Christopher Blair, Cortland Rankin, and Zachary Fraum.

After more than a decade of labor, the Chicago Historical Society, Newberry Library, and Northwestern University present with great anticipation the electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Our excitement arises from the great potential in how the contents, design, and functionality of this resource will be used by teachers, students, scholars, and others committed to learning a bit more about Chicago and metropolitan life. Furthermore, we are energized by the potential for the electronic Encyclopedia's growth and future development. We hope that this initial release of the Encyclopedia–its analytical and technical structure, contents, and design–provide a provocative and powerful platform upon which to build.

Spring 2005