Center of Known History

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About Cynthia Ogorek

A native of the Calumet region, Cynthia Ogorek was born in Hammond, Indiana, and grew up in Calumet City, Illinois. She had a classical education, balanced between the humanities and science. She attended St. Victor's Elementary School and Thornton Fractional North High School, both in Calumet City, and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dominican University (then Rosary College) in River Forest, Illinois. Her education culminated in a Master of Arts degree in American history from Purdue University Northwest.

During her time at PNW, Ms. Ogorek was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for historians. Subsequently, she received a certificate from the Seminar for Historical Administration, which was then located in Colonial Williamsburg. In 2008, she was named Outstanding Alumna of the Department of History and Political Science at Purdue University Northwest, and the following spring she received the Distinguished Friend of Southern Suburbs Heritage from the South Suburban Heritage Association.


From 1985 to 1997, Ogorek was a freelance correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana, Antique Week — Tri-State Trader, and Chicago Sun-Times, among other regional and national periodicals, where she concentrated on food-, business-, and history-related topics. Her byline also appeared in the Encyclopedia of Local History, Dictionary of American Biography, and Women Building Chicago.


Ms. Ogorek has long been active in the Calumet region's bi-state historical community, where she has served on the boards of the Calumet Heritage Partnership and the South Suburban Heritage Association. She is a past president of the Calumet City Historical Society, where she was also one of the co-founders of the society's history museum. She continues to maintain memberships in many local historical societies in Indiana and Illinois. She has served on the board of the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition and the Illinois chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association.

Prior to starting the Center of Known History, Ms. Ogorek was director of the Matteson Historical Museum for six years and director of public relations for a retirement home, where she established an archive and museum collection. She served on the boards of several historical organizations and helped to found the Calumet City Historical Society Museum. Ms. Ogorek lives in her childhood home between the Little and Grand Calumet Rivers, about ten miles north of the Lincoln Highway and always within the sound of a freight train.

Public Speaker

In the late 1990s, Ms. Ogorek began presenting programs about historical topics with "Romancing the Spoon: The Victorian Love Affair with Silver." In this presentation, she explores the development of the United States' silver industry between 1840 and WWI and its relation to Gilded Age economics and social mores.

Ms. Ogorek has lectured widely on silver, as well as the topics covered by her books. Her interest in women's history has resulted in a series of programs with exhibits called "First Ladies from the Midwest." They feature biographies of all the US first ladies who have called the Midwest home: Anna Harrison, Mary Lincoln, Julia Grant, Lucretia Garfield, Lucy Hayes, Caroline Harrison, Ida McKinley, Helen Taft, Florence Harding, Lou Hoover, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Betty Ford, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama. Research into the lives of Anna Harrison and Mary Lincoln has led Ogorek to visit repositories in Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, and Long Island.


Cynthia's first two books, Along the Calumet River and The Lincoln Highway around Chicago, both won accolades from the Illinois Women's Press Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Illinois State Historical Society. Along the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Rail Line is her third book with Arcadia Publishing. Along with the first two, it forms a set on the history of transportation in the bi-state Calumet Region. Her fourth book, The Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad, will be available soon. This book was co-authored with Bill Molony,


• Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad, Co-authored by Bill Molony, Arcadia Publishing, 2016.
• Around the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Rail Line, Arcadia Publishing, 2012.
• The Lincoln Highway around Chicago, Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
• Along the Calumet River, Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
• Matteson's Railroad History, (editor), Matteson Historical Society, 1998.

More Information:

Publishing Credits Past Programs Additional Biographical Details