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“Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad,” a presentation by Jeanine Michna-Bales, Thursday, February 23, 2017, 7pm. Doors open at 6:15pm for reception.

“Untold Stories: Enslaved People in the Home of the Grimke Family,” a presentation by Louise W. Knight, Thursday, March 2, 2017, 7pm.

EHC’s “On the Go,” a day trip to Lombard and Mayslake, Saturday, March 18, 2017. Bus departs 9AM and returns around 4:30pm. EHC membership is required to attend this event.

Have a suggestion for an event topic or speaker? Please email Jenny Thompson:


Click the image to view more information on the Winter UTB!

February UTB Lecture:
Jeanine Michna-Bales Talk, Winter 2016“Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad” with Jeanine Michna-Bales
Thursday, February 23, 2017, 7pm.

Reception catered by Whole Foods Market starts at 6:15pm

The exhibit “Through Darkness to Light” will be on view prior to the presentation.


Photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales spent more than a decade researching the way enslaved people escaped to freedom and the pathways and safe houses they used along the routes that guided freedom seekers north. Through her project, she produced a series of haunting and moving photographs made along a distance that extended from the cotton plantations of central Louisiana, through the cypress swamps of Mississippi and the plains of Indiana, north to Canada— a path of nearly fourteen hundred miles. Her images comprise both a traveling exhibit (on view at EHC and the Evanston Arts Center January 28 – March 16, 2017) and a companion book, Through Darkness to Light (2017).

On Thursday, February 23, (7pm, Reception starts at 6:15pm) join us for a presentation by Michna-Bales as she discusses her work, the meanings captured by her images, and the ways in which she uses photography as a tool for education and dialogue. Her book will be available for sale at the event. A book signing, hosted by Bookends and Beginnings, will follow the presentation. Presented in partnership with the Lombard Historical Society.


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Seating policy: On the evening of the event, we will offer available seats on a firstcome, first served basis. A waiting list will be maintained at the front door. Open seats will be made available right before the start of the program. We cannot guarantee seats for those without reservations.

March UTB Lecture:
“Untold Stories: Enslaved People in the Home of the Grimke Family” with Louise W. Knight, Thursday, March 2, 2017, 7pm.

Reception catered by Whole Foods Market starts at 6:30pm

When we think about how enslaved people responded to their bondage, we often think first of those who liberated themselves through the underground railroad, but this is only part of the story. Join us for a presentation by historian Louise W. Knight as she discusses some of the other ways people rebelled against enslavement, drawing on the stories of the enslaved people of the aristocratic Grimke family of Charleston, South Carolina. Pieced together from correspondence, white owners’ published recollections, and “runaway” ads in newspapers, the stories illustrate the courage and resourcefulness with which people met their involuntary bondage.
This Women’s History Month program is co-sponsored with the Evanston Women’s History Project.

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EHC Gratefully Acknowledges the Generous Support of Our Partners and Sponsors:




“Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad”
January 28, 2017 – March 16, 2017

The Evanston History Center and the Evanston Art Center present the midwest premiere of Jeanine Michna-Bales’ haunting and inspiring photographs taken along the paths that led from slavery to freedom, “Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad.”

The exhibit, which is co-sponsored by the Evanston History Center and the Evanston Art Center, will be on view at those two locations from January 28 – March 16, 2017.

Thank you to the Evanston Arts Council for their support and Whole Foods Market for their partnership.

“Evanston Reads” Book Discussion
Thursday, March 7, 2017, 1-2pm

225 Greenwood St., Evanston
Free and open to all.
No reservation necessary.

The Evanston History Center is taking part in the shared reading experience “Evanston Reads,” hosted by the Evanston Public Library, February – March, 2017.  The Other Wes Moore, an engaging “double biography” is the focal point of this year’s program.

Book discussions will be held around Evanston, including one at the Dawes House on Tuesday, March 7, from 1 to 2pm. The EHC is open Thursday – Sunday from 1-4 p.m.. Stop by to get your free copy (while supplies last) and join in the conversation.



“EHC On the Go”
a new program of day trips to visit historically interesting sites

Join us on Saturday, March 18, 2017  for the maiden voyage.
We will travel by coach bus to:
The Sheldon Peck Homestead in Lombard
Lombard’s Victorian Cottage Museum
The Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook

The bus departs the  Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood St in Evanston at 9:00am
Travel to Lombard for site visits
Stop in historic downtown Lombard for lunch “on your own”
Visit the Mayslake Peabody Estate
Return to EHC around 4:30pm
* You may park your car on Greenwood Street all day for free while on the trip.*

Cost of this EHC MEMBER ONLY trip is $30 per person and is limited to 38 people.
Reservations Required.
Ticket cost includes all travel fees and gratuity and admission to all the sites.
Click here to sign up for EHC Membership
Tickets can be purchased by phone: 847-475-3410.

Make a reservation online: Click here to reserve your spot

An EHC staff member will call you to confirm your reservation.

About the sites:

The 1839 Sheldon Peck Homestead is a verified site on the Underground Railroad. Sheldon Peck, a nationally recognized primitive folk art portrait painter, built the clapboard house in 1839 and resided there with his family until his death in 1868.  Peck was a well-known advocate of the anti-slavery and temperance causes and the house is a verifiable safe house for freedom seekers prior to the Civil War.

More info:


The Victorian Cottage Museum (formerly known as the Lombard Historical Museum) is an 1882 historic house museum that provides information and examples of a middle-class Victorian household as part of the history of Lombard.

More info:


The sprawling Mayslake Peabody Estate was the culmination of a tremendously successful career of Francis Stuyvesant Peabody. In 1919, he hired renowned Chicago architect Benjamin Marshall to design his Tudor Revival-style country mansion. The mansion was built on the site of Peabody’s 848-acre “Mayslake Farm”—named after his first wife and daughter. It was completed in 1921.

More info: