Joseph Gustaitis

Author and Historian

New in 2022!

Jazz Age Chicago

When people imagine 1920s Chicago, they usually (and justifiably) think of Al Capone, speakeasies, gang wars, flappers, and flivvers. Yet this narrative overlooks the crucial role the Windy City played in the modernization of America. This city's ethnic variety and building boom gave it unparalleled creative space, as design trends from Art Deco skyscrapers to streamlined household appliances reflected Chicago's unmistakable style. The emergence of mass media helped make professional sports a national obsession, even as Chicago radio stations were inventing the sitcom and the soap opera.

Chicago Transformed

World War I has been called "the war that changed everything," and it had a profound effect on Chicago. Between 1913 and 1919, a period that has not been adequately documented in histories of the city, Chicago transitioned from a 19th-century city to the metropolis it is today. Chicago Transformed describes the changes brought by the Great War and shows how they endure in the cultural, ethnic, and political landscape of the Windy City. Russell P. Strange Memorial Book of the Year Award, Illinois State Historical Society.

Chicago in 50 Objects

History is written in small things just as much as large ones. My third Chicago book uses 50 carefully chosen artifacts to chronicle Chicago's triumphs and tragedies. Here you'll find a relic of the Great Chicago Fire, Michael Jordan's jersey, the guns used in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Jane Addams's Nobel Prize, Nelson Algren's typewriter, a set of knives from the stockyards, a Potawatomi war club, a Cracker Jack canister, an Illinois Central timetable from 1912, and a memento of Abraham Lincoln's Chicago funeral procession.

1893: Chicago's Greatest Year

The "White City" Columbian Exposition was the great event of the year in Chicago, but 1893 witnessed a surprising number of milestones in the city's history. The Field Museum, the Art Institute, and the Museum of Science and Industry all trace their origins to 1893; three Chicago authors practically invented urban literature; the Chicago hot dog was born. Sears, Roebuck was incorporated; William Wrigley invented Juicy Fruit gum; the Cubs opened a new ball park, and a new church was built for the first Black Roman Catholic priest in America. These stories, and more, are told in Chicago's Greatest Year, 1893. Superior Achievement Award, Illinois State Historical Society.