On April 26, 2015 the Windy City Historians began with a small group of Chicago authors and historians met at Chief O’Neil’s Restaurant on Chicago’s north side. Initiated by co-founders Christopher Lynch and Patrick McBriarty it was also attended by Greg Brozo, John Corey, Don Glasell, Joe Gustaitis, Jacob Kaplan, Dick Lanyon, Tom Lutz, Colleen McElroy, Mimi Rosenbush, and Patrick Steffes.
Within a couple meetings held on a quarterly basis this group and others contributors settled on the name Windy City Historians and the mission — to provide an open and friendly environment that encourages the sharing of resources, and knowledge among historians, researchers, communications professionals, educators, and artists to aid in the development of works related to Chicago history; including improved access to primary source materials, institutions, and archives; as well as supporting promotion, publishing, broadcast and publicity objectives connected with the dissemination of related topics and completed projects.
A Facebook group of the same name was soon created on February 6, 2016 as a forum for Chicago historians to send queries, share research and resources which quickly evolved into sharing of historic images and more. As the popularity of historic images took on a life of its own this drove the Facebook group to more than 10K a members by early 2020.
In May of 2018, Christopher Lynch and Patrick McBriarty conducted their first interview of what would be come the Windy City Historians Podcast. An idea that was posed by friend, artist, and designer Jill Haagenson to Patrick challenging him on and off for over a year that it would be a good way to raise his brand as an author and historian. Finally relenting Patrick sketched out a two-page outline of an ambitious chronological overview of Chicago history. Needing a name and already having worked with Chris the two co-hosts embarked upon what Chris entitled “Laying the Foundation.” This became their first podcast series beginning with the early history of French exploration of Chicago up into the 1930s.
The very first episode was released on March 29, 2019, which interviewed retired attorney and historian John Swenson in the first of a three episode discussion of the Chicago portage, French explorers, and an ancient Indian mound. What more will come of this group and the podcast remains to be seen as “Laying the Foundation” continues having now completed over a dozen monthly episodes.
A core group of Chicago authors, historians, and interested parties still occasionally meets to discuss and share history the podcast continues and our Facebook group is active forum for sharing some Great Chicago history!