April 29, Holocaust Remembrance: Survivor Beatrice Muchman

beatrice photo

Beatrice Muchman (Ramzi Dreessen, Sun Times)


5:00 – 6:00 P.M


Beatrice Muchman, author of Never to be Forgotten: A Young Girl’s Holocaust Memoir, shares her story of struggle and survival in Nazi-occupied Belgium.

Muchman was born in Berlin in 1933. In March 1939, she, her parents, and four relatives fled to Brussels to escape the Nazi regime. By 1942, Germany occupied Belgium, and Muchman’s parents brought her and her cousin to the home of two Catholic women for safekeeping. Her parents were killed; she survived and was ultimately brought to the U.S., where she was adopted by an aunt and uncle in Chicago. Muchman grew up believing that her Jewish parents had abandoned her. In 1990, a box was discovered in her uncle’s home that contained faded letters, documents, and old photographs; the letters had been written by her parents in the 1940s. “I finally was able to discover, in a deep, fundamental way, that my parents had loved me more than life itself,” the author relates. (BookList)

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The Monuments Men


Image via teaser-trailer.com

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men (now on order for the library’s collection and ready to place on hold) features an all-star cast including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. The Nazis’ systematic hoarding and destroying of art led the Monuments Men, a platoon of museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, behind enemy lines and often unarmed, risking their lives for the sake of saving some of mankind’s greatest achievements, including masterpieces of Michelangelo, Monet, Matisse, and many others – some of which you may see at the Art Institute of Chicago!

Have you seen The Monuments Men? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Visit the library today to learn more! You may also be interested in:

The Monuments Men: Allied Heros, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel  (Book)

Rescuing da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis sole Europe’s great art, America and Her Allies Recovered It by Robert M. Edsel (Book)

The Rape of Europa (DVD)

The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers who Saved Italy’s Art during World War II by Ilaria Dagnini Brey (Book)

Hitler’s Holy Relics: A True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire by Sidney Kirkpatrick  (Book & Audiobook)

To learn more about the Monuments Men and their work which continues to this day, check out monumentsmenfoundation.org.

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Explore Chicago Cuisine with HistoryFlix this Tuesday!



Join us for HistoryFlix as we watch an episode of Bizarre Foods on Chicago cuisine! Chicago is a city of both innovation and tradition. Andrew gets a taste of the Chicago’s diverse food scene, including traditional cooking classics and world-renowned chefs who create new concoctions with modern technology!

WHEN: Tuesday, March 11 (11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

WHERE: Board Room, 2nd Floor

WHAT: Viewing, brief group talk about what we learned about our favorite Chicago eats, and a gift card raffle!

Refreshments will be provided; brown bag lunches are welcome!

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HISTORYFLIX: Come for the free coffee & gift card raffles. Stay for the fun!

historyflix banner2

Do you have an interest in history? Do you like watching documentaries, meeting new people, and winning prizes? Have we got the club for you!

What is HistoryFlix?

HistoryFlix is a group of history enthusiasts that gather each month to view a documentary and follow up with lively discussion. Gift card raffles take place at the end of each meeting. Coffee and cookies are provided; brown bag lunches are welcome!


2nd Tuesday of each month

11am- 12:30pm


2nd Floor, Board Room


Join us on February 11 from 11am – 12:30pm in the Board Room as we view…

the-untold-story-of-emmett-louis-tillThe Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till

The culmination of a 10-year investigation to uncover the details behind the nightmarish 1955 Mississippi murder of Emmett Louis Till, an African-American Chicago teenager. Till’s death sparked the American Civil Rights Movement.

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RE: Christmas Truce of WWI Questions

Image via theguardian.com

Image via theguardian.com

Hi all!

We had a great discussion this week about the Christmas Truce of WWI. There were two questions that I wanted to follow up on.

Q: Is the poem In Flanders Fields by Colonel John McCrae based on the field in which the Christmas Truce took place?

A: Flanders is a region of Belgium and had several fields which were part of the Western Front. The poem refers to a number of battlefields in which soldiers had died. This article from the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs states:

This was the poem written by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada’s First Brigade Artillery. It expressed McCrae’s grief over the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields, located in a region of western Belgium and northern France.

Q: Are the soldiers who were buried during the Christmas Truce still resting on the Western Front or were they later recovered and buried elsewhere?
A: After a considerable amount of research, I have not been able to locate any information that states the soldiers were later recovered and buried elsewhere. My educated guess would be that the soldiers are still resting along the Western Front. If they were to send the bodies either back home or to a more “formal” resting place, it seems that to bury them during the truce and recover them again would take quite a bit of unnecessary effort. Also, the identification of the deceased soldiers may have been noted as they were buried during the truce for military records and to notify their families. What do you think? Share in the comment section below!
Hope to see you at 11am on January 14 when we watch Al Capone: The Untouchable Legend!
Happy Holidays!

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Mark Your Calendars: Polish Genealogy Workshop!


On Saturday, November 2 from 10 am to 3 pm, noted genealogist and researcher Steve Szabados will present two dynamic workshops:

“Polish Immigration: Where, When, Why?” and “Polish Genealogy: Where to Start”

Resources, book suggestions, and light refreshments will be available.

This program is FREE and registration is now open! Call us at (630) 685-4176 to reserve your place. We hope to see you there!

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Hi all,

After quite a bit of consideration, it has been decided that beginning in October, History Talks will be upgraded to History Flicks!

  • What is History Flicks? On the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 11am – 12:30 pm, history enthusiasts will gather in the library’s Board Room for a showing of a documentary for about an hour. After the documentary, we’ll chat for 30 minutes about what we had learned, what surprised us, and what intrigued us.
  • Will we still be fed? Since the meetings will now be an hour and a half around lunchtime, brown bag lunches are welcome. Cookies, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate will still be provided, of course!
  • Will we still have recommended readings or “homework”? Nope! I will, however, have some books and/or DVDs available to check out after the meeting if the topic really interested you and you’d like to learn more.
  • What will we watch? Documentaries have already been selected for October – December, but they’re not set in stone. Feel free to let me know what topics you’re really interested in exploring!

October 8 – History Channel: Salem Witch Trials

November 12 – A&E: Custer’s Last Stand

December 10 – History Channel: The Christmas Truce

Hope to see you next month!

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Salem Witch Trials Recommended Reading


Hi all,

Thanks for a great conversation about the Ancient Aztecs on Tuesday morning! Next month’s meeting on the Salem Witch Trials will be held on October 8 at 11 a.m. Check out some of the recommended sources below or place a hold for them on your library account by clicking on any title. If you have any issues with placing a hold, please don’t hesitate to call us at 630. 759. 2102. Hope to see you next month for what is sure to be an enchanting discussion!

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The Salem Witch Trials by Earle Rice

The Salem Witch Trials by Sandy Asirvatham

The Haunting of America: From the Salem Witch Trials to Harry Houdini by William J. Birnes

The Salem Witch Trials: Hysteria in Colonial America by Louise Chipley Slavicek



Echo Bridge Home Entertainment: Salem Witch Trials

The History Channel: Salem Witch Trials



Smithsonian:  http://tinyurl.com/ytntfo

History:  http://tinyurl.com/9ownwtx

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Aztec Fast Facts: What I Learned at the Field Museum

This past Labor Day weekend was spent at the Field Museum checking out the temporary Caves of Lascaux exhibit, exploring ancient Egyptian tombs, and brushing up on my Aztec history! Here is a bit of what I learned:

- The Exhibit: The Ancient Americas exhibit stresses that what they share with museum visitors is not the progression of cultures. Instead, the exhibit explores cultural evolution, which means that “cultures evolve over time in response to influences from the natural and cultural environments.”

{To learn more about cultural evolution, click here}

- Tenochtitlan: The Aztec capital (present-day Mexico City), was one of the largest cities in the world in 1521, the year it fell to the Spanish conquistadors. At that time there were approximately 200,000 inhabitants! The city was built on swampy land in Lake Texcoco. Bonus points to the person who can tell me the Aztec legend of the founding of Tenochtitlan on Tuesday! (Hint: The image on the Mexican flag came from this legend)

{To learn more about Tenochtitlan, click here}


In the public markets of Tenochtitlan, citizens bought and sold manufactured goods such as pottery and religious figurines. Merchants would also bring objects like as these to other lands to trade for everyday items and luxury goods to bring back to the Aztecs.

- Teotihuacan: There is still debate among scholars as to who actually built this city, but archaeologists agree that its height was between 100 BC and AD 650 and had a population of about 100,000. By the time the Aztecs came across it, it was abandoned. They were in awe of its massive temples and believed that only gods could have built such a place, which why they named it Teotihuacan, “city of the gods”.

{To learn more about Teotihuacan, click here}

- The Aztec Sun Stone: Looking at the picture below, you might think “Wait a second, isn’t that the Maya calendar?”. Nope! Leading up to December 2012, many cartoons, commercials, etc., featured the Aztec Sun Stone when discussing the supposed Maya prophecy about the end of the world (a topic that I will be sure to discuss soon!). The Sun Stone does not track days, but instead represents the Aztec myth about the creation of the world. This one is a replica; the original resides in the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia in Mexico City.

{To learn more about the Azten Sun Stone, click here}


Aztec Sun Stone

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September Discussion Questions: Ancient Aztecs

Hi all!

If you’d like to get a head start on next week’s discussion on the ancient Aztecs, take a look at the questions below:

1)      If you were a Conquistador, what thoughts would have gone through your head as you set sail to an unmapped world to face the unknown? If you were an Aztec, what thoughts would have gone through your head when strangely dressed men marched into your city with unknown intentions?

2)      What did the Spanish have to gain from the Aztecs?

3)      What was the Triple Alliance?

4)      Discuss the legend of Quetzalcoatl. What effect did this legend have on the conquest of the Aztecs?

5)      The Aztec view of human sacrifice was quite different from that of the Europeans. From the Aztec perspective, explain why this was an important ritual in their culture.

6)      Describe the city of Tenochtitlan at the height of the Aztec empire.

7)      The city of Teotihuacan was not founded by the Aztecs, but was still important to them. Why?

8)      Why were the Spanish were able to conquer the Aztecs?

9)      While 80 – 90% of the Indigenous population in North, Central, and South America died due to warfare with Europeans and European diseases, 10- 20% did survive and are still around today. What are some aspects of ancient Aztec life that still exist today?

10)    Any additional thoughts or questions?

Hope to see you next week!

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