Publication Date

November 1, 2002

"I'd like to help you out," I told Arnita Jones when she asked me last spring to become the chair of the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) for the AHA's 117th annual meeting set for Chicago in January 2003, "but I hardly know the city myself." "That's all right," she replied, "this is a perfect way for you to meet people." Her logic proved unassailable. With only two years in Chicago under my belt, I needed to reach out to others—particularly to those with expertise in the city's history—and, fortunately for me, Chicago historians have proven a most willing and cooperative lot. In assembling a robust and energetic (not to mention sprawling) LAC, I have enjoyed expert counsel from cochair Ann Durkin Keating, a coeditor of the Encyclopedia of Chicago History. For staffing the meeting itself, moreover, what better organizer could I have found than historian Wendy Plotkin, one of the original organizers of H-Net?

In this and the next issue of Perspectives, the LAC hopes to bring you a variety of useful articles about the annual meeting city, including features on the expanding metropolis, and its restaurants, music, skyscrapers, politics, and development, as well as guidance for savoring the city on a low budget.

Let me also call your attention to the special events which the LAC itself has planned for meeting attendees: a fascinating set of guided historical tours, a self-guided walking tour from the Palmer House to the Hilton Hotel (which will be described in the December Perspectives), and the “Historians on Parade: AHA Book Talks” function scheduled to be held off-site at the Newberry Library, Friday, January 3, 3–6 p.m., with a reception following. The latter event features readings from 2002–03 books by colleagues: Maureen Flanagan, Seeing With Their Hearts:Chicago Women and the Vision of the Good City; Suzanne Lebsock, A Murder in Virginia; James M. McPherson, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, 1862; Juan Mora-Torres, The Making of the Mexican Border; James T. Patterson, Brown v. Board of Education; William J. Rorabaugh, Kennedy and the Promise of the Sixties; and Martha Sandweiss, Print the Legend.

Working on local arrangements for the annual meeting has made me all the more aware of what a special place Chicago is. In addition to the meeting's main business, therefore, I hope you will take advantage of your visit here to soak up some local color. Don't let the wind stop you!

—, chair of the 117th annual meeting's Local Arrangements Committee, is professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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