Book recommendations about the history of Chicago activism?
May 21, 2007 10:11 AM   Subscribe

ChicagoActivismFilter: I need a book that details the history of political activism in Chicago.

More specifically, I'm looking to pin down where exactly dramatic moments in Chicago history occurred. Info of interest include the SDS and Black Panthers' HQ addresses, the Days of Rage riots, significant points of interest related to the 1968 DNC, etc. Anyone have any ideas? Ideally, this book will CONTAIN EXCERPTS of agitprop, not BE agitprop.
posted by hypocritical ross to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if a single volume with quite that sweep of information, but if you already know the events in which you're interested, your best bet might be newspaper and telephone book archives at the Chicago Public Library. And in fact, if I can do so without inadvertently dissing the hive mind, I'd say the best thing to do might be to go down to the main library or one of the big regional branches, and speak with a reference librarian, particularly an older one.

(As a side note, Chicago's history of political activism started way before the time period you describe. If your scope is a little broader than your question suggests, you might look at books like Altgeld's America for info about Haymarket, Love, Anarchy and Emma Goldman, which has a good bit of Chicago lore, Rules for Radicals, which details a lot of the organizing work Saul Alinsky did, and of course, Boss, Royko's classic on Daley the First which covers how Hizzoner handled--mishandled, really--many of the events you ask about.)
posted by j-dawg at 11:22 AM on May 21, 2007

I'm not sure the book you're looking for exists. If you're looking to pin down key events, you might look at the timeline in the Encyclopedia of Chicago. There are plenty of books that cover specific activist movements or periods, but I don't know of a history of activism in Chicago across the board. (And also, do you just mean left-leaning political activism? Because there's been plenty of the other kind.)

As j-dawg said, you definitely need to start a lot earlier. Chicago was a hotbed of immigrant radicalism in the late 19th century.
posted by craichead at 11:52 AM on May 21, 2007

Response by poster: I'm aware of the earlier labor movements (although not in as much detail as I probably should be) - the main inspiration for this further research was a recent viewing of The Weather Underground, though, which probably explains why my post leaned more towards 60s-era radicalism.
posted by hypocritical ross at 12:30 PM on May 21, 2007

When I was an undergrad at Northwestern, I found a treasure trove of primary sources at the special collections room in Deering Library. I was doing a paper on whether the underground press tried to incite folks to violence in Chicago ahead of the 1968 Democratic convention, and when I explained to the staff there what I was doing, they brought out boxes and boxes of original underground newspapers...
posted by AJaffe at 12:55 PM on May 21, 2007

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