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Who are the Windies?
The Chicago History Museum’s “interpreter” program offers a great opportunity for history buffs to get to know the city in depth and detail. Through the free program, volunteer interpreters (also known as docents and tour guides) can take advantage of history classes, printed resources, and expert training in how to lead tours and engage an audience.
One of the best aspects of the program, however, is the opportunity to meet others with a similar passion for Chicago history. Such like-minded people share what they learn and fuel each other’s ardor for the history and culture of this world-class city.
In 2001, a few of us interpreters decided to build on the museum’s formal training program by organizing occasional activities, field trips and seminars. Calling ourselves The Windies, we began meeting every other month, or so, turning the city into our classroom.
First, we took an organized tour of the Clarke House Museum – a good place to start since this is Chicago’s oldest building. Not only did we learn a lot about the house and life of a prominent Chicago family in the 1850s and 60s, but we also learned from an experienced tour guide at work.
Other trips took us to stores and skyscrapers, churches and school, parks and galleries. We rode the ‘L’ and walked through neighborhoods. We gave each other tours, and we met with famous local authors.
Five years later, The Windies continue to crisscross the city. The more topics and sites we visit, the more people and places beckon to us.
The Windies’ City contains a broad cross section of the favorite field trips of three Chicago History Museum docents. It features historical places that are off the beaten path rather than predictable tourist destinations. We trust that you will enjoy exploring the city with us as you read these entries.