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Local History Brought to Life

The Calumet Region has a long and rich history. Cynthia Ogorek delivers engaging presentations on local history to audiences of all sizes. Contact her today to book a lecture or seminar at your location. Each presentation can be tailored to suit your schedule and interests.

A Public Historian

History is the account of things said and done in the past. Everyone and everything has a history, which provides the context of our lives and the perspective with which we view the rest of the world. Public history is the non-academic branch of the history profession. As a public historian, Ms. Ogorek strives to make history interesting and accessible to all audiences. All her presentations are educational and entertaining, and they each include an exhibit that lets audiences learn more about the topic.

"Lincoln Highway around Chicago"

Find out how the nation's first hard-surfaced, transcontinental highway developed in the southern and western suburbs of Chicago. The Lincoln Highway was named in honor of Abraham Lincoln shortly after the country celebrated the centennial of his birth. It cuts through 13 states and serves as an example for all the hundreds of highway associations that popped up across the nation before and after WWI. Your armchair tour of the Lincoln starts at "The Ideal Section" in Schererville and Dyer, Indiana, then makes its way to Geneva on the Fox River in Illinois. Cynthia will have her books for sale during the session.

"First Ladies and the Lincoln Highway"

This talk takes a national look at the Lincoln Highway and features some little-known historical events that have taken place on it. Your tour starts in New York City and ends in San Francisco, and it features several First Ladies of the United States, some of whom traveled the highway well before it was known as the Lincoln. This program includes a PowerPoint presentation and will require a computer, projector, and screen onsite.

Cynthia has been a member of the Lincoln Highway Association since 1999. She is a board member of the Illinois chapter and has also served on the board of the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition, which obtained the distinction of National Scenic Byway for the Illinois stretch of the highway in 2000. She has personally traveled over 2,500 miles of the highway, from New York City to San Francisco, experiencing sections of it firsthand, from the "original route" to its modern-day Route 30 versions.

"First Ladies from the Midwest: The Two Mrs. Harrisons and Mamie Eisenhower"

Mrs. William Henry Harrison was the first First Lady from the Midwest, and her granddaughter-in-law, Caroline, was the "Centennial First Lady" when the United States celebrated its first 100 years. Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of a general, moved into the White House some 50 years later. Find out how each of these remarkable women approached her duties as First Lady and left her mark on the White House.

"First Ladies from the Midwest: Lou Hoover, Bess Truman, and Mary Lincoln"

A more diverse group of First Ladies would be hard to assemble. This presentation focuses on Mary Lincoln, who was First Lady at a time when women were just beginning to take on more public roles; Lou Hoover, one of the first First Ladies with a college degree; and Bess Truman, who became an "accidental" First Lady when President Franklin Roosevelt died in office.

"Romancing the Spoon: The Victorian Love Affair with Silver"

This program has been a favorite with audiences for many years. Not only are they delighted by a lace-covered table, sparkling with silver flatware; they are also fascinated with the story of our nation's silver industry and its unique position in the economy of the post-Civil War "Gilded Age." Find out why Victorian dining customs demanded four different soup spoons, a five o'clock spoon, and different place settings for men and women. This is a great program for any fundraising event.

"Along the Calumet River in Illinois and Indiana"

Recreation and industry have coexisted along the banks of the Calumet for generations. Local history buffs know that the river has been an important resource for communities from South Chicago through Northwest Indiana and La-Porte County. Cynthia Ogorek, author of Along the Calumet River, presents a lively, informal program highlighting the river's evolution and development and its far-reaching effects on life in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. Audience participation is invited.

"Along the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Rail Line"

Cynthia's latest book, Along the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Rail Line, is a look at the last electric interurban rail line in the country. In her presentation of the same the title, she'll explain how an electric train works and point out some of the historic sites you can see from the train window as you travel from Millennium Station in downtown Chicago to the Michiana Airport terminal in South Bend. She is also available to give tours on the train from Chicago to South Bend (or in the other direction).