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Uncovered & Rediscovered

Uncovered & Rediscovered

Stories of Jewish Chicago

September 1, 2010 to April 26, 2013
In the Spertus vestibule

Uncovered & Rediscovered was an evolving exhibit that explored the Chicago Jewish experience. The exhibit unfolded over time in a series of intimate chapters (each on display for 3 to 6 months in the ground floor vestibule of the Spertus building). Using archival materials, cultural and fine art objects, and audio-visual content from Spertus’ rich and varied holdings, it shared tales of Chicago’s Jewish pioneers and politicians, artists and anarchists, authors and entrepreneurs, and even Jewish boxers.

Enjoy highlights in the slideshow galleries below.

Chapter One: Chicago’s Jewish Pioneers
Was on display September 1– December 2, 2010
Chicago’s Jewish Pioneers told the story of the mostly German Jews who came to Chicago starting in the 1840s and founded Chicago’s first synagogues and philanthropic organizations. This chapter explores the myriad challenges that they encountered — ranging from making a living to hiring Chicago’s first rabbi.
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Chapter Two: Paved In Gold? The Road To Maxwell Street
Was on display December 16, 2010 – March 17, 2011
Paved in Gold? dealt with the second wave of Jewish immigration to Chicago. Beginning in the late 1870s Yiddish-speaking Jews arrived in Chicago en-masse and settled initially in the dense, tenement-filled area of Maxwell Street. This segment examined the vibrant culture of open-market bazaars, religious institutions, and Yiddish publications and theater that developed there, along with Jewish involvement in labor causes. Slideshow >

Chapter Three: North, South, East, And West
Was on display April 3 – September 22, 2011
North, South, East, and West explored the demographic shifts that occurred as families experienced upward mobility and abandoned the areas of initial settlement. It examined Jewish life in neighborhoods such as Lawndale, the South Side, and Logan Square, and charted the post-war population movement to West Rogers Park and the north and northwest suburbs.
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Chapter Four: Let There Be Learning
Was on display October 9 – December 29, 2011
Let There Be Learning explored the importance of education for Chicago’s Jewish community. It shared the stories of the educational modes and models implemented by Chicago’s Jews, from the settlement houses and Yiddish folk schools in the early days of Jewish Chicago to groundbreaking educational initiatives being undertaken today. With artifacts from notable Chicago Jewish institutions this chapter of Uncovered & Rediscovered looked at education as a vehicle for forging a new American identity, as a means of preserving cherished Jewish traditions, and as an avenue for Jewish community involvement.
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Chapter Five: Movers, Shakers and History-Makers
Was on display January 22 – May 10, 2012
Movers, Shakers, and History-Makers focused on Chicago Jews who played leading roles in public life. Materials documented Jewish contributions to business, entertainment, philanthropy, politics, and sports. Highlights included the landmark labor contract that ended the 1910 Garment Workers' Strike, a yarmulke worn by Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, the philanthropic ledger of Max Adler, founder of the Adler Planetarium, and the Emmy Award from Irv Kupcinet's television show.
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Chapter Six: A Jewish Homeland
Was on display June 3 – September 20, 2012

A Jewish Homeland documents the efforts of Chicagoans to secure a homeland for the Jewish people, beginning with the founding of this country’s first Zionist organization on Chicago’s West Side in 1896. Learn of little known episodes such as Methodist Minister William Blackstone’s petition to Presidents Harrison and Wilson to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, or the failed efforts of a group of Chicagoans to create a Jewish homeland in Siberia. This chapter also explores local responses to the unfolding horror of Nazism — including a boycott of German goods and frantic efforts to rescue European family members—as well as a joyful rally of 25,000 at the Chicago Stadium celebrating the founding of the State of Israel.
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Chapter Seven: Jewish Modernists in Chicago
On display October 21 - April 26, 2013

This chapter shares the work of an influential group of Jewish artists active in Chicago between 1920 and 1945. Predominately Eastern European immigrants or first generation Americans, many began their careers during the Great Depression as painters for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The Modernists, as they were called, painted from personal experience and were influenced by the energy of Chicago's growing metropolis. See works by Todros Geller, A. Raymond Katz, Mitchell Siporin, Fritzi Brod, and others, and learn the stories of places they gathered including Hull House, the Jewish People's Institute, and Around the Palette (the forerunner of the American Jewish Artists Club).
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Photo at left

At left, Barney Ross (1909-1967)


Exhibits at Spertus Institute are supported, in part, by the Harry and Sadie Lasky Foundation.