University of Chicago: Regenstein & Mansueto Libraries

The University of Chicago (not to be confused with the University of Illinois in Chicago) was ranked the 6th best National University in the United States in 2019.  Founded in 1890, this prestigious university is known for graduating Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as employing famous faculty who have made important contributions to their fields.  Additionally, Barack Obama taught at the University’s law school from 1992-2004, before he became U.S. President.

The University of Chicago has several libraries, such as a law library, math library, and archaeology library.  I believe that the current science library, the John Crerar Library, was the University’s first library. Additionally, although I have not visited it, I was told that the William Rainey Harper Memorial Library has an amazing reading room reminiscent of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books.

Currently, the main library at the University of Chicago is the Joseph Regenstein Library, which has five floors and two basement levels.  The photo on the main page of my blog was taken from this amazing library’s stacks.  I had never seen so many books in my life.  Just walking through the library gave me an exhilarated feeling, and reminded me of how much knowledge there is in the world, but how little of it a human mind can actually obtain and retain.

In 2011, the University completed an addition to the Regenstein Library, called the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.  Because the University of Chicago is one of the largest research libraries in the United States, they do not weed (get rid of) their books to make room for more, meaning that they have accumulated several million books.  With limited real estate in Chicago, the University needed to find more space for them.  That is why the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library was built.  However, the majority of it is underground.

Below are photos of the outside and inside of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. The area located above the ground houses a bright reading room, as well as conservation and digitization labs. The glass has three layers, which blocks out 99% of the sun’s ultra-violet light.

When I visited the conservation lab, a conservator was working on a 50-pound music book from Spain dating to the 1600s.

Since I visited the Mansueto Library with a librarian group, we were given the opportunity to visit the lower levels of the building, which are not open to the public. The two underground levels house a total of approximately 3.5 million books and journals that have historically not been used or checked out often. They are stored in high-ceiling rooms reminiscent of a hardware store such as Menards, with towering rows of bins filled with books in each “aisle.” If someone wants an item housed in this area, all he or she needs to do is request it from the library’s catalog. Within five minutes, a robot retrieves the correct bin containing the book, and brings it up to the librarian upstairs. This is called an Automated Storage and Retrieval System. Only a handful of libraries in the world have this system. The room housing the books is climate-controlled and, thus, also stores the University’s rare books and special collections. If a fire should ever occur down there, the air is supposed to suck out of the room, theoretically putting out the fire. This prevents the need for a sprinkler system that could ruin the books, but also means that humans would need to leave the premises immediately.

The University of Chicago’s library system is the 9th largest academic library in North America, and the 19th largest library in the United States (The Library of Congress is #1, and two other Chicago libraries rank higher: Chicago Public Library is #5 and University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign is #6.).

Since I visited the library with a librarian group, I am not sure how easy it is for visitors to enter the library.  I believe that university students at other schools do not have much trouble if they show their student I.D., however, the Library’s website is vague about non-student visitors.  You should probably check with them ahead of time if you plan to visit.

Although the Regenstein Library’s architecture looks bleak (building in the foreground), it contains a treasure trove of books. It is located on the University of Chicago’s original football field, which was the site of the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction on December 2, 1942. This monument commemorates the event.

Sources and Further Reading

“About the University of Chicago Library.” The University of Chicago Library. https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/about/thelibrary/ (accessed January 11 2019).

“History.” The University of Chicago. https://www.uchicago.edu/about/history/ (accessed January 11 2019).

“The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.” The University of Chicago Library. https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/mansueto/ (accessed January 11 2019).

“The Largest Libraries in the U.S.” Infoplease. https://www.infoplease.com/arts-entertainment/literature-and-books/largest-libraries-us (accessed January 11 2019).

“Libraries and Museums.” The University of Chicago. https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/academics/libraries-and-museums (accessed January 11 2019).

“National University Rankings.” U.S. News & World Report. https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities (accessed January 11 2019).

Auditorium Theatre

On December 9, 2019, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago turned 130 years old.  Built in 1889 by architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, the theater was the first home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as the early Chicago opera companies.  Today, the Theatre still hosts ballets, orchestras, musicians, etc.  Additionally, because of its interesting history, and more likely because Louis Sullivan is considered a famous architect, the Theatre frequently offers tours.  Most of the people on my small tour were French tourists who did not know each other, which makes me suspect that architecture receives a larger emphasis there than in the United States.

I went on the 1 ½ hour tour of the Auditorium Theatre with an extremely knowledgeable guide.  He made it more interesting because of his personal connection with the Theatre.  After World II, in 1945, Roosevelt University came into existence.  It purchased the Theatre building, but did not open it to the public.  However, in 1960, the University began raising funds to restore the Theatre.  During the 1960s, my tour guide heard about the fundraising campaign and asked his mother if they could contribute.  They did, and he then received a letter thanking him for being one of the youngest donors.  As a reward, he was given a personal tour of the Theatre.  In 1967, when the Theatre reopened to the public, he and his mother attended the performance.  He has seen every show offered there since.

That was the history of the Theatre during the second half of the 20th century, however, the first half is also interesting.  Although Adler and Sullivan did not build the first skyscraper, they are considered pioneers in the skyscraper’s development.  Additionally, they helped influence future architects, such as the more famous Frank Lloyd Wright, who worked under Sullivan at the beginning of his career.

Louis Sullivan is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

When the Theatre opened in 1889, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison came to its opening.  The Theatre was considered grand at the time, as it seated 4,200 and had a 10-story hotel above it.  Its reputation helped Chicago win the bid to host the 1893 World Fair.  Some of the famous people to perform or speak at the Auditorium Theatre have been President Theodore Roosevelt, Civil Rights activist Booker T. Washington, Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, Aretha Franklin, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix.  The Theatre somehow held a few baseball games during its early years, and during World War II, the government used it for U.S. soldiers, and a large portion of the auditorium became bowling alleys.   

The two most fascinating aspects of the Theatre to me were the lighting and the sinking floor.  Because electricity was new at the time that the Theatre was built, the auditorium contains 3,500 lightbulbs total.  It was a great way to show off this new invention.  Originally, the entire Theatre used carbon lightbulbs, however, they are not as bright as the bulbs used today, so only the main part of the auditorium uses them now, while the hallways use more standard lightbulbs.  Carbon lightbulbs actually last longer than the current ones, but I cannot remember the number of years. 

Chicago used to be a swampy area, so the ground is not solid.  The architects knew this and took precautions when building the Theatre’s foundation.  However, over the years, the perimeter of the building has sunk deeper in comparison to the rest of the building.  This was especially noticeable in the Theatre’s lobby, where the ground sloped downward near the entrance.  Additionally, during the tour, we went to the top balcony, which apparently leans more toward the stage than it used to.  The Theatre does not sell those seats as often, unless an event is extremely popular.  In the past, African Americans were only permitted to sit in the balcony seats, and not in the rest of the Theatre.  In regards to the sinking ground the guide said that the building has stopped sinking, and remains safe.  Hopefully, that is true. 

A standard tour at the Auditorium Theatre currently costs $12.  Additionally, the tours are typically only offered on weekdays at unusual times.  This is probably so as not to interfere with the Theatre’s scheduled performances. 

Sources and Further Reading

“Architecture.” Auditorium Theatre. https://www.auditoriumtheatre.org/the-building/architecture/#/ (accessed December 11, 2019).

“Historic Theatre Tours.” Auditorium Theatre. https://tickets.auditoriumtheatre.org/production/2677/19-20-public-theatre-tours/#/ (accessed December 11, 2019).

“Origins & Stats.” Auditorium Theatre. https://www.auditoriumtheatre.org/the-building/origins-stats/ (accessed December 11, 2019).

“Timeline.” Auditorium Theatre. https://www.auditoriumtheatre.org/the-building/timeline/ (accessed December 11, 2019).

National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial

Unfortunately, many genocides occurred during the twentieth century.  One of them was the Cambodian Genocide, which took place between 1975 and 1979.  Approximately, 2 million people died.  In the United States, Chicago is the only place that currently has a memorial to this Genocide (although Long Beach, California is currently working on one).  This is interesting, since most Cambodians in the United States actually live in California and Massachusetts, not Chicago. 

Chicago’s National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial opened in 2004, but falls under the authority of the Cambodian Association of Illinois, which was founded in 1976.  This organization was founded during the Genocide, with the purpose of assisting Cambodian refugees who came to resettle in Chicago.  Today, the organization provides healthcare assistance and community programming for the approximately 5,000 Cambodians living in the Chicago area.

The Cambodian Heritage Museum is open to the public whenever the Cambodian Association of Illinois has its regular office hours.  However, it does not hurt to call ahead of time.  Unlike many museums, your participation is essential during your visit.  All visits include a tour, in which your guide describes the Cambodian community and Genocide based on what you already know and want to know.  Artifacts do not play a major role in the Museum.  Instead, they are used as ways to discuss different aspects of the Genocide.

When I visited the Cambodian Heritage Museum, the associate director of the Cambodian Association of Illinois, who is also the main overseer of the Museum, provided me with a personal tour.  First, she had me watch a brief video about the Cambodian Genocide, and then we went through the exhibit together.  Although she is one of the few staff members at the Cambodian Association of Illinois who is not Cambodian, her passion and love for the community is quite evident.  She was a wonderful tour guide, and provided me with a very personal and informative experience.  Prior to my visit, I hardly knew anything about the Genocide, so she provided a very helpful overview.

The Cambodian Genocide is linked with the Vietnam War.  During that time, Communist forces from Vietnam spread their ideology into neighboring Cambodia.  Then, a Communist regime, also known as the Khmer Rouge, took over Cambodia, and the Genocide soon followed.  Many people were murdered outright, especially Cambodia’s intellectuals and artists.  By removing the intellectuals of a society, a government removes its strongest resistance.  However, that action indirectly caused the deaths of many more people.  If a country has murdered all of its doctors, who is going to treat illnesses appropriately?  In order to make the country equal, the Khmer Rouge tried to make everyone become farmers, and brought many people from the cities into the rural areas.  Many more deaths occurred due to lack of food, the poor conditions of the newly-created labor camps, and the outright murder of dissenters.

At the very back of the Cambodian Heritage Museum is the actual memorial to the Genocide.  On it are etched the names of the dead family and friends of Cambodian refugees now living in the United States.  During my tour, I was told how, in Cambodia, most memorials to the Genocide are rooms with thousands of human skulls.  However, for this Chicago Memorial, the community did not want to recreate the horror of what occurred, but wanted to provide a calming environment to commemorate the tragedy.

Sources and Further Reading

“About.” Cambodian Association of Illinois. https://cambodianassociation.org/about (accessed November 23, 2019).

“Cambodia.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. https://www.ushmm.org/genocide-prevention/countries/cambodia (accessed November 23, 2019).

“History.” National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial. https://www.cambodianmuseum.org/what-we-do (accessed November 23, 2019).

Kopsa, Andy. “How Cambodia’s Day of Remembrance for Genocide Victims Has Always Been Complicated.” Time. May 20, 2019. https://time.com/5591061/cambodia-remembrance-day-history/ (accessed November 23, 2019).

Rhee, Nissa. “The Cambodian Association of Illinois Celebrates 40 Years by Looking Ahead.” Chicago Reader. May 26, 2016. https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/cambodian-association-illinois-khmer-rouge-kompha-seth/Content?oid=22237231 (accessed November 23, 2019).

Rolfing Memorial Library

The Chicago area has many universities, both private and public.  Undoubtedly, all of them have interesting stories and materials.  Trinity International University is an example of one of them.  Located in Bannockburn, Illinois (a small suburb about 30 miles north of Chicago) since 1961, the University can trace its roots back to 1897.  During that time, Swedish immigrants, who were members of the Swedish Evangelical Free Church in Chicago, started a Bible school.  Eventually, this school merged with a Danish-Norwegian Evangelical Free Church’s Bible school.  Over the first half of the twentieth century, the university changed its name and location several times, and was even a part of Moody Bible Institute and Chicago Theological Seminary on different occasions.  Today, the University has over 2,000 students, although this number includes two other smaller campuses in California and Florida.

The university’s current library is called the Rolfing Memorial Library, and was built in 1974.  It was named in memory of James E. Rolfing, who was the son of the president of the Wurlitzer Company, which makes organs and pianos.  Sadly, James E. Rolfing died prematurely in an airplane crash, so his parents donated money to the library in memory of him (although, I do not know if he had any connection to Trinity).

The university’s archives is located in the library, and is named after Gleason Archer, who served as an Old Testament and Semitics professor at Trinity from 1965 to 1986.  His office was located where the archives are currently housed.  Archer knew at least eighteen languages and, according to his son-in-law, taught himself Egyptian hieroglyphs as a young boy.  Trinity has one of his typewriters, which typed in Greek.

Other interesting items in the archives include a signed copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first book, This Side of Paradise.  Because the book has library stampings in the front, it must have circulated in the library at one point, until someone realized its importance.  Additionally, the archives contains about 200 theological books, mostly written in Latin, and mostly dating from the seventeenth century.  Obviously, the archives also houses documents relating to the University’s history.  However, perhaps the papers that are of most interest to scholars are those of Carl F. H. Henry, the cofounder and first editor of the magazine, Christianity Today.  He taught as an adjunct professor at Trinity occasionally, and ultimately donated his papers there. 

My favorite items in Trinity’s archives are 11 unique book pages, mostly dating from the seventeenth century.  They originally came from the collection of Stanley Slotkin, but Trinity does not know how they obtained these book pages, which range from a musical score page, to a Hebrew and Greek commentary page, to a Quran page from 1207.  Interestingly enough, it appears as if the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History also has a page from this same Quran that Trinity has: https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_808673

Stanley Slotkin was born in the U.S. to poor Russian-Jewish immigrants, but became wealthy by renting furniture to people, which was not a common practice in the 1930s.  With his wealth, he started several hobbies, which included collecting books and donating them to different libraries.  However, to ensure that many places could benefit from these donations, he disassembled the books and gave each page to a different place.  Clearly, archival practices have changed since then! 

Slotkin had other hobbies as well, such as funding peoples’ plastic surgeries.  After Slotkin funded his secretary’s plastic surgery on her nose, she found a husband soon afterward, so this inspired him to sponsor plastic surgeries regularly.  Additionally, Slotkin created the first blood bank in Israel during its war for independence in 1948, and also gifted different museums with stones from Bethlehem.  More information about this unusual man can be found in the links below.

One final noteworthy artifact at Trinity is a 500-year-old Torah scroll from Germany (meaning that it survived the Holocaust), which was donated to the school in 2014.  It is currently on display in the library.  A Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible, and is read on a weekly basis at the synagogue, so that the entire scroll is completed each year.  Trinity’s scroll was donated by Kenneth R. and Barbara Larson, a Christian couple who have been purchasing unkosher Torah scrolls (meaning that they cannot be used in a synagogue anymore due to various reasons), and donating them to Christian universities.  Trinity was the third recipient, of what has been 55 donations thus far. 

Although Trinity does not have an archivist, you can contact the friendly library staff to see if they can give you a tour: http://library.tiu.edu/archives

Sources and Further Reading

“Archives and Special Collections.” Trinity International University. http://library.tiu.edu/archives (accessed October 25, 2019).

“History & Heritage.” Trinity International University. https://www.tiu.edu/about/history-heritage/ (accessed October 25, 2019).

Oliver, Myrna. “Stanley Slotkin; Began Abbey Rents.” Los Angeles Times, September 30, 1997 https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1997-sep-30-mn-37823-story.html (accessed October 25, 2019).

“Page from Koran.” National Museum of American History. https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_808673 (accessed October 25, 2019).

Stocker, Joseph. “He Gives People New Faces.” The Evening Independent, December 13, 1959. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19591213&id=6ZQLAAAAIBAJ&sjid=bVUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4146,2427726 (accessed October 25, 2019).

“Torah Recipients.” God’s Ancient Library. https://www.godsancientlibrary.com/recipients (accessed October 25, 2019).

“Trinity Receives Rare, 15th Century Torah Scroll.” Trinity International University Newsroom. https://news.tiu.edu/2014/09/19/torah-scroll/ (accessed October 25, 2019).

International Museum of Surgical Science

“At Home in Chicago” is a consortium of over 20 mansions in the Chicago area that are open to the public.  One of these mansions was built for a wealthy Chicago family in 1917, and faces Lake Shore Drive.  Since 1954, this mansion has housed the International Museum of Surgical Science, which is owned by the International College of Surgeons. This latter group’s purpose statement is: ” Promoting excellence of surgeons and surgical specialists worldwide.” It was founded by a surgeon named Dr. Max Thorek.

Thorek’s grave is at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago. Since I found his grave by accident, I decided to include it here.

When I visited the museum, I had low expectations, because I thought that it would either be boring or disturbing.  However, I ended up loving my visit. In the past, the museum solely focused on the history of surgery, but now, the scope has widened to medical history in general.

Each room in this gigantic mansion focuses on a different topic.  For instance, one room solely focuses on the medical history of eyes, so the displays include a variety of eyeglasses and eyepieces used throughout history.  Another room focuses on pain and painkillers used throughout history.  From that exhibit, I learned that the drug “Heroin” received its name, because in the late nineteenth century, it was considered a “heroic” drug that cured many ailments. Of course, there was also a room about the history of surgery, and included scary saws and tools that were used to perform surgeries in the past.

One of the rooms that I found the most interesting was devoted to the history of how radiation has been used for medical purposes.  Unfortunately, the pioneers in that field had premature deaths, because they received radiation poisoning by x-raying themselves so much.  X-rays were often used to treat all kinds of medical problems.  The museum even had an x-ray machine that was used at shoe stores to measure people’s foot sizes.  While I was looking at that display (this was in 2018), I overheard an elderly woman telling someone how she remembered having her foot measured that way when she would go shoe shopping with her mother.  Because the negative side effects of radiation do not appear immediately, people used it unwisely for a long time.  It makes me wonder if we are currently using a new technology unwisely, but will not realize how dangerous it is until several decades later.

The museum’s library contains approximately 1,000 books.

Other noteworthy features at the museum include an impressive library of old medical books (not accessible to the general public) and ancient Peruvian heads with holes in them, showing that surgery has been done for centuries.  The only downside to this museum is that if you do not enjoy reading signs, you may not enjoy this museum as much, since it is not very interactive.  However, the museum does offer tours on Thursdays.  Also, it should be noted that on Tuesdays, the museum is free for Illinois residents.

Sources and Further Reading

“The History.” International Museum of Surgical Science. https://imss.org/the-history/ (accessed October 24, 2019).

Chicago Public Libraries

The Chicago Public Library was founded in 1872, the year after the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed most of the city.  After the conflagration, the people of England felt pity for Chicago, so they donated 8,000 books to the city.  Chicago, then, established a library, in order to store this generous donation.  Today, the Chicago Public Library is made up of 81 libraries, with the Harold Washington Library being the main branch.  Like other public services positions in the city of Chicago, the Chicago Public Library only hires Chicago residents as librarians.

Although most of the Chicago Public Library branches are tiny, they can all receive book requests from the main Harold Washington Library.  This nine-floor building was completed in 1991 and named after Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American mayor.  The Library includes a maker space with 3D printers, as well as thousands of books.  The top floor has a glass roof, and is primarily used for studying or special events such as weddings. 

Although the Chicago Public Library was founded in 1872, it did not find a permanent home until 1897.  Today, the former library is across the street from Millennium Park.  You can still see the words “Chicago Public Library” on it, but it is now known as the Chicago Cultural Center.  The Center offers free, guided tours of this beautiful building from Wednesdays through Saturdays at 1:15 PM.  This hour tour includes a detailed history of the Chicago Public Library, and is well worth your time.

The Chicago Cultural Center has the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome.

It also has some interesting quotes about books written by famous people.

However, many of the quotes seem out of context, such as this Hebrew quote of Isaiah 29:12: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+29%3A12&version=ESV

Today, the Chicago Cultural Center hosts music concerts, movie screenings, weddings, and many other types of events.  Additionally, it has one of the few StoryCorps booths in the United States.  StoryCorps is a non-profit organization that allows average people to record their personal stories and add them to the archives of The American Folklife Center.  This latter group is a subdivision of the Library of Congress, and is focused on preserving the cultural history of the United States.

Sources and Further Reading

“About.” StoryCorps. https://storycorps.org/about/ (accessed October 5, 2019).

“Chicago Cultural Center – Architecture and History.” City of Chicago. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_culturalcenter-architectureandhistory.html (accessed October 5, 2019).

“CPL History.” Chicago Public Library. https://www.chipublib.org/cpl-history/ (accessed October 5, 2019).

“StoryCorps Collection (AFC 2004/001): Frequent Asked Questions.” The American Folklife Center. http://www.loc.gov/folklife/storycorpsfaq.html (accessed October 5, 2019).

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

In 2009, the third largest Holocaust museum in the world opened up in Skokie, Illinois.  The two largest museums are Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., respectively.  Why Skokie, you might ask?  Skokie used to have one of the largest Holocaust survivor populations in the world.  Whereas some Chicago suburbs restricted whether or not Jews could live in their neighborhoods, Skokie welcomed Jews.

Although the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (ILHMEC) in Skokie opened up ten years ago, a smaller version of this museum existed since the late 1970s.  In 1977 and 1978, a group of neo-Nazis attempted to march in Skokie in order to antagonize the Jewish community there.  However, the issue went to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ironically, both the lawyer defending Skokie’s Holocaust survivors and the lawyer defending the neo-Nazis’ freedom of speech were Jews.  Even stranger was the discovery made about Frank Collin, the head of the neo-Nazi group in the Midwest, who was trying to march in Skokie in the first place.  Collin’s father was a Jewish Holocaust survivor who had been imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

The neo-Nazis eventually won the Supreme Court case, and were granted permission to march in Skokie.  However, they ended up changing their minds and marched in Chicago instead.  As a result, the Skokie Holocaust survivors started a small museum in a storefront building (which is now the Kaleemullah Masjid mosque), in order to educate people about the Holocaust.  This museum ultimately evolved into Skokie’s current Holocaust museum, which primarily contains the testimonies and artifacts of local survivors.  The attempted neo-Nazi march also inspired Skokie’s Holocaust survivors to work on having an Illinois law pass, which now requires that schools teach their students about the Holocaust.  This law eventually evolved into a broader requirement in which schools must teach about other genocides as well.

In order to fulfill the Illinois law, many schools bring their students on field trips to the ILHMEC.  While I was interning at the Museum in 2013, at least forty local Holocaust survivors alternated speaking to these students each day.  Although the number of remaining survivors continues to decline, there are still survivors who speak two weekends a month at the Museum to the general public.  You can learn the speaking schedule on the Museum’s Events page: https://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/pages/programs/events/  In preparation for when there will no longer be Holocaust survivors with us, the ILHMEC has partnered with the Shoah Foundation (Steven Spielberg’s project that recorded the testimony of over 50,000 witnesses to the Holocaust) to create a hologram experience with a handful of survivors.  The Shoah Foundation intensely interviewed these survivors so that you can now listen to a hologram of these survivors and ask them questions afterwards.  Although it is not the same as talking with a real person, it will be a decent substitute in the future.

In addition to an authentic German train car, like the ones used to deport Jews to concentration camps, and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s desk (read his book about forgiveness called The Sunflower), the Museum contains many other interesting objects as well.  The silver Judaica objects near the exit to the Museum were confiscated from Jewish homes by the Nazis, and eventually found by U.S. troops in German warehouses after the War (vividly depicted in the 2014 film The Monuments Men).  An organization called the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. (JCR for short) formed soon after the War with the mission of finding the original owners of these objects.  Since most of the owners had perished, these items were ultimately donated to different Jewish organizations throughout the world.  The silver objects at the ILHMEC are on long-term loan from the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, which received these objects from the JCR back in the 1950s.  Because they were kept in storage for so long, they arrived at the Museum tarnished and dark in 2013.  As an intern at the Museum, I had the privilege of polishing these special items.

Sources and Further Reading

“History.” Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. https://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/pages/about/history/ (accessed September 26, 2019).

“Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc. (JCR).” Jewish Virtual Library. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-cultural-reconstruction-inc-jcr (accessed September 26, 2019).

Surviving Skokie. Directed by Eli Adler and Blair Gershkow. Clean Slate Productions, 2015. DVD.

Wiesenthal, Simon. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. 2nd ed. New York: Schocken Books, 1997.