Great Chicago Fire to launch Cantigny ‘Headlines From History’ online series

WHEATON – The Robert R. McCormick House at Cantigny Park in Wheaton announced a new online lecture series, “Headlines From History,” beginning with a look at the Great Chicago Fire on its 150th anniversary.

The lectures, presented via Zoom, will focus on major events or issues reported on by the Chicago Tribune, a news release stated. Robert McCormick was the longtime editor and publisher of the newspaper, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Joseph Medill. Both once lived at Cantigny.

“Headlines From History” presentations are free, but advance registration is required at

Three one-hour lectures currently are planned.

“The Great Chicago Fire”

Jeffrey Anderson and Kyle Mathers, both of the Museums at Cantigny Park, will lecture at 7 p.m. Oct. 9.

The Great Fire left Chicago in ruins. An estimated 300 people died, 17,000 buildings were destroyed and 100,000 were left homeless. Yet on Oct. 11, 1871, citizens found hope on a front page that declared, “Chicago shall rise again.” Join a discussion about the circumstances surrounding the fire and the devastation it left behind. Also learn about the unprecedented reconstruction, and the role of Joseph Medill as Chicago’s rebuilding mayor.

“Dewey Defeats Truman”

Sam Rushay of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum will speak at 7 p.m. Nov. 17.

Few headlines in history are as iconic and memorable as “Dewey Defeats Truman,” a Chicago Daily Tribune front-page screamer on Nov. 3, 1948. Those familiar know it was mistaken. What’s less known is the story behind the headline. Rushay will discuss its origins and lasting impact – a tale about politics and polls, certainly, but also a compelling human-interest story that still captures imaginations.

“Prohibition in Chicago”

Jonathan Knotek of Chicago Prohibition Tours will lecture at 7 p.m. Dec. 1.

In January 1919, ratification of the 18th Amendment made Prohibition the law of the land. Nine months later, passage of the Volstead Act provided for its enforcement. The lecture will examine how Prohibition came to be; who supported it; who opposed it; and the many unintended and yet predictable consequences of Prohibition in U.S. society.

Cantigny Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset at 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton. Parking is free on the first Wednesday of the month. The Robert R. McCormick House, a historic house museum, currently is closed for renovation, and will reopen to the public in 2022. More information and a calendar of events are online at