Digital Exhibit: The Civil War and Chicago

The countdown to the new semester has begun and with it the frantic attempts to get ahead before falling perpetually behind.  As you try desperately to check things off your growing to do list, remember this may be your last week to take some time to relax and rejuvenate before four months of caffeine induced reading and writing.  Although I heartily support getting out of your cramped apartment and getting some fresh air, I understand if the temperatures that are currently hovering around freezing keep you huddled inside.  How about we compromise?  You can stay in, sip your cocoa, pet your dog/cat, and still explore one of the largest green spaces in Chicago.  I’ll even throw in some history to ease your already nagging conscience.

Take a break from your break and check out The Civil War and Chicago: Memorialization, Commemoration, and Remembrance at Rosehill Cemetery!

Civil War Section of Rosehill Cemetery

A digital exhibit created as the capstone for Dr. Elizabeth Fraterrigo’s Material Culture course, The Civil War and Chicago utilizes the Omeka platform to explore how veterans, families of deceased soldiers, and the country as a whole, memorialized, commemorated, and remembered the sacrifices of the over half million soldiers who perished between 1861 and 1865.

Check out the site here and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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It’s Lurking in the Cemetery

In a recent post, contributor Gregory Ruth discussed how for him “autumn has meant archive time.” I wish I could say the same, as I’m sure my scholarship would markedly improve with more time spent with the “yellowing records.”  For me, however, the magic of autumn lies in beautiful displays of brightly colored leaves, in apple cider straight from the mill, and in the quiet stillness of cemeteries.  That’s right, cemeteries.  What better time of the year to explore the history and memory ensconced in Chicago’s cemeteries than in October?  So, forget about your Halloween costume,  that paper due in November, and that mountain of laundry — tour a cemetery instead!  Although the haunts may not be as terrifying, I promise you history is alive, and it’s lurking in the cemetery.

Boyington Gate at Rosehill Cemetery

Rosehill Cemetery at 5800 North Ravenswood Ave, Chicago

Located on Chicago’s North Side, Rosehill Cemetery is the oldest and largest non-sectarian cemetery in the city.  Chartered in 1859, Rosehill was still in its formative years when the American Civil War broke out.  In an effort to advance its reputation within the community, the cemetery actively pursued the families of prominent war dead in hopes of having them interred at Rosehill.  In part because of these efforts, the focal point of the east side of the cemetery is a Civil War section featuring the Our Heroes: Civil War Monument designed by Leonard Wells Volk, the Major General Thomas Edwin Greenfield Ransom Monument, and several prominent battery monuments.  The Civil War section lies just inside Rosehill’s castellated gothic gate designed by William W. Boyington (the architect of the Chicago Water Tower).

On the west side of Rosehill is Chicago’s largest public mausoleum.  Designed by Sidney Lovell and dedicated in 1914, the mausoleum features Italian Carrera marble, Doric columns, and Louis Tiffany stained glass.  Notables interred in the Rosehill Mausoleum include Aaron Montgomery Ward, Richard Warren Sears, and John G. Shedd.

The Chicago History Museum offers guided walking tours of Rosehill East and Rosehill West, but unfortunately, their fall tour dates have already passed.  The cemetery is open daily, however, so stop by for a walk anyway.  Interspersed with the cemetery’s more famous occupants – twelve mayors of Chicago, four governors of Illinois, several former Congressmen, a Vice President of the United States, twelve Civil War Generals, and countless architectural, commercial and social notables – are the graves of the veritable unknowns.  Their history beckons.

Graves of Union Soldiers at Rosehill Cemetery

Continue reading “It’s Lurking in the Cemetery”