Chris Dingwall is a historian of race and capitalism in American culture and has written about design for public and academic audiences. He was co-curator of African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce, and the Politics of Race, an exhibition held at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2018, which he is now turning into a book for the University of Chicago Press. His work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Terra Foundation of American Art. Currently, he lives in Detroit and teaches at Oakland University.

Jonathan Mekinda is Associate Professor of Design History at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Design, where he directs the design studies program and serves as Associate Director for Faculty Affairs. Focusing on Italy and the United States, his research examines how the diverse practices, services, and objects of architecture and design have both shaped and been shaped by processes of modernization such as industrialization, the development of governing regimes built on mass politics, and the emergence of popular cultures tied to global systems of production and consumption.

Liesl Olson is Director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry. Her books include Modernism and the Ordinary (Oxford, 2009); Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis (Yale, 2017); and Chicago Avant-Garde: Five Women Ahead of Their Time (Newberry, 2021). With three of her Newberry colleagues, Olson received the 2020 Outstanding Public History Project Award from the National Council on Public History for Chicago 1919: Confronting the Race Riots

Dr. Bess Williamson is a historian of design and material culture and Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design (2019) and co-editor of Making Disability Modern: Design Histories (2020). Her work explores diverse histories and practices of design that extend expertise to users and communities, and challenge designers to address access and power in their work.

Speakers and Site Visit Leaders

Additional information coming soon.

Davarian L. Baldwin is the Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Trinity College (CT). He is the author of In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities are Plundering Our Cities, Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life, and co-editor (with Minkah Makalani) of the essay collection, Escape From New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem.

Beverly Cook has been an archivist at Chicago Public Library’s Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature for over 30  years. She has served as chair of the African American and Native American Heritage Committee as well as been on committees at the Midwest Archives Conference and the Society of American Archivist. She received an BA in History from the University of Illinois and an MLIS from Rosary College.

Jill Gage, custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library

Elizabeth Loch has been an Archival Specialist at Chicago Public Library’s Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature for over seven years. She also serves as a board member for the Chicago Women’s History Center. Ms. Loch holds an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago and an MLIS from Dominican University.

Alison Fisher, Harold and Margot Schiff Associate Curator of Architecture and Design

Kellee Warren is currently Assistant Professor and Special Collections Librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ms. Warren’s article, “Reimagining Special Collections Instruction: A Special Case of Haiti” was published with The American Archivist, fall/winter 2020. Her research interests include critical pedagogies, digital humanities, and oral history.