John was a teacher for over thirty years. He likes speaking to people, and likes learning from them. Though he has done presentations on different aspects of American history, his main focus is on Chicago and Illinois.
His scholarly work has been in Chicago politics. Yet John’s interests are eclectic, as reflected in his blog. He tells the familiar gangster stories, but with a twist. He visits the hidden corners of the city and suburbs that the guidebooks neglect. He writes about Chicago’s heroes, Chicago’s villains, and Chicago’s oddballs. He does sports, journalism, entertainment, public works. He tries to provide historical answers to the eternal local question, “Why?”
John is available to speaking on any of these topics, and more. He also has an extensive collection of historical photos to illustrate his presentation.
John’s earliest consulting activity was preparing and presenting teacher training workshops in the Chicago Public Schools system. Two of the most popular were in-services on “The History of Your Neighborhood” and “Helping Students Teach Each Other History.”
Since earning his Ph.D. he has been hired to provide historical background for different projects. The topics have been eclectic—sports halls of fame, local landmarks, Chicago crime and politics, to name a few. John was also responsible for identifying and evaluating the one hundred most important events in world history, for a line of elementary school enrichment readers.
John’s specialty is Chicago. He knows the city—and not just the guidebook areas. In his blog, he delights in bringing out forgotten and neglected stories. He is available to do a variety of historical services, from simple fact-checking to providing an in-depth study of a particular person, place, or event.
John is also a seasoned interviewer. He perfected his skill doing hundreds of research interviews for his books and magazine articles. He also developed the Oral History Project at the International Bowling Museum—the first of its kind in that sport. With his wide-ranging knowledge as a historian, John is particularly well-suited to conduct similar programs.
The Eddie Waitkus story: A Chicago baseball tragedy
Origins of the CTA
Summertime in Chicago
Other Chicago Disasters