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Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition
Welcome to the “This week in history” newsletter, part of Afternoon Edition! Every Saturday we take a break from recapping the day’s news to bring you a deep dive into Chicago’s painful, mural-painting and sometimes life-saving history. For more historic photos, follow us at @CSTphotovault on Facebook and Instagram.
— Alison Martin (@miss_alison_m, follow for extra history plus rants and dogs throughout the week)

This week in history: Bodies of 3 Freedom Summer workers found in Mississippi
Headshots of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner as they appeared in the Aug. 5, 1964 edition of the Chicago Daily News. From the Sun-Times archives.
Headshots of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner as they appeared in the Aug. 5, 1964 edition of the Chicago Daily News. From the Sun-Times archives.
Throughout most of the summer of 1964, Chicagoans likely watched newspaper headlines for any indication of what happened to James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three Freedom Summer workers in Mississippi who’d gone missing in June. Most assumed they’d died, but no one would ever be brought to justice without the bodies.
On Aug. 5, 1964, the Chicago Daily News finally provided some closure: All three bodies had been located in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Goodman and Schwerner, two New Yorkers working for Congress of Racial Equality, were identified. Chaney, a fellow CORE worker and a Black resident of Meridian, would be identified the next day.
Chaney met Goodman, Schwerner and several other CORE volunteers on June 20, 1964, in Oxford, Ohio, and drove with them down in a CORE-owned station wagon to Meridian, a front-page Daily News article explained on June 24. They planned to register Black Mississippians to vote and help them organize. On June 21, the three men drove to Neshoba County to investigate a church burning.
“They were stopped in Philadelphia, Miss., 12 miles west of Longdale for, the sheriff said, speeding 65 miles per hour in a 30-mile zone,” the report concluded. “They were held, fined, released and escorted out of town, the sheriff said. Whatever happened to them, they dropped from sight Sunday night and haven’t been seen since.”
Read more about what happened to these men. Check out this deep dive into this Freedom Summer murder or browse the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s archives on the work done in the South during this tumultuous summer.
The stacks
On Aug. 1, 1944, Anne Frank set down her pen and closed her diary. She never wrote in it again.
Three days later, Nazi police entered the secret annex in Amsterdam where she, her family and four other Jewish refugees hid and arrested them all. Anne Frank and her sister, Margot Frank, were sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they both died in 1945 before the camp could be liberated. Of all eight people hiding in the annex, only Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, survived.
Two years after the war, Otto Frank published his daughter’s diary, “The Diary of a Young Girl,” which became one of the defining texts of the 20th century. The book presents the horrors of the Holocaust told from the eyes of a 13-year-old girl. For many children around the world, it would serve as an accessible introduction to this dark chapter in history.
Anne Frank received the diary as a present for her 13th birthday in 1942 to record her thoughts and feelings as she grew up. But just one month after she began writing, her family, fearing Nazi violence against Jews, fled into hiding in what Anne Frank called the “secret annex.” In an unassuming office building, the Franks hid along with Hermann and Auguste van Pels and their son Peter van Pels. They were later joined by Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist.
For more than two years, the eight residents of the secret annex lived in fear that any of the workers below would hear them and discover their secret. They relied on Miep Gies, a Dutch citizen and friend of the Frank family, to sneak food into the attic and share news about the war. In fact, it was Gies who spotted the diary after the Gestapo found the group and ransacked the annex. She kept it safe, hoping to return it to Anne Frank one day.
She never got the chance.
The Nazis deported the Frank family to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp, where they were forced to do hard labor. In November 1944, the girls were separated from their parents and sent to Bergen-Belsen, where they both died in February 1944 from typhus.
Gies returned the diary to Otto Frank after the war ended, and he published it two years later. The diary, however, would not be translated into English until 1952. It first appeared on the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times in a syndicated column written by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She said she’d first read the book as a manuscript while visiting Paris the previous year, and now she’d finally received a copy in bounded book form.
“I think it is well for us who have forgotten so much of that period to read about it now, just to remind ourselves that we never want to go through such things again if possible,” she wrote on April 24, 1952.
The book became a best-seller within a matter of months.
“These poignant recollections of a Jewish girl hiding out from the Nazis during World War II had a first printing of only 5,000 copies,” a Sun-Times brief recorded. “These were bought up, after favorable reviews, in a single day.
"The second printing of 15,000 was nearly all gone in the next two weeks. Total copies now in print are 45,000.”
In response the book’s popularity, the paper ran several chapters of the book on Sundays in September 1952. The second chapter appeared in the Sept. 8 edition and included the diagram below of the secret annex.
A diagram mapping out the building and secret annex that Anne Frank and the other seven refugees hid in for years. It ran in the Sept. 8, 1952 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times along with an excerpt from "The Diary of a Young Girl." From the Sun-Times archives.
A diagram mapping out the building and secret annex that Anne Frank and the other seven refugees hid in for years. It ran in the Sept. 8, 1952 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times along with an excerpt from "The Diary of a Young Girl." From the Sun-Times archives.
The excerpt from July 2, 1942 covered the Frank family’s flight from their home and into the secret annex. In it, Anne Frank sees her whole world vanish as she decides what to take and leave behind.
“Into hiding — where would we go, in a town or the country, in a house or a cottage, when, how, where…?”
“These were questions I was not allowed to ask, but I couldn’t get them out of my mind. Margot and I began to pack some of our belongings into a school satchel. The first thing I put in was this diary, then hair curlers, handkerchiefs, schoolbooks, a comb, old letters; I put in the craziest things with the idea that we were going into hiding. But I’m not sorry; memories mean more to me than dresses.”
The excerpts ran for several days, detailing Anne Frank’s interactions with the others in the annex, her first kiss, her fears as more bad news arrives from the outside world and her incredible optimism in the face of such adversity, of which the diary would become famous for and would inspire generations of readers.
“It’s really a wonder,” she famously wrote on July 15, 1944, which appeared in the Sun-Times on Sept. 25, 1952, “that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem too absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Pick up this classic work, “The Diary of a Young Girl.” It’s a long way from Chicago to Amsterdam, but you can take a virtual tour of the secret annex, now the Anne Frank Museum. Not long after the diary was published, it was made into a Broadway play and later a movie.
City of arts
The cover of "The Barrio Murals," which accompanied the exhibition at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum — now called the National Museum of Mexican Art — in Pilsen. Photo provided by the National Museum of Mexican Art.
The cover of "The Barrio Murals," which accompanied the exhibition at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum — now called the National Museum of Mexican Art — in Pilsen. Photo provided by the National Museum of Mexican Art.
If Chicago had a favorite form of public art, it would almost certainly be the mural. First popularized and perfected by Mexican artists in the 1920s, murals made their way north as more Mexican immigrants settled in the city. As many of their descendants still call Chicago home, it’s no surprise that so many beautiful murals adorn walls not only in Pilsen and Little Village, where many Mexican American communities thrive, but also around the rest of the city.
In late July 1987, the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, now known as the National Museum of Mexican Art, brought together 19 local artists to paint 19 original murals — called “portable” murals because they were painted on moveable walls that were positioned within the museum — for an exhibition called “The Barrio Murals,” which celebrated artists of the city’s Mexican community.
Traditionally, Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco chose designs that reflected the communities where the murals would be — their outrages, their celebrations and their histories, according to the museum’s chief curator Cesareo Moreno.
“It really was sort of a public space where the community was represented by the artists,” he added.
The works in the 1987 exhibit certainly acknowledged this tradition.
"Among the works are examples rife with the symbolism of the old world Aztec and Mayan Indian cultures. Others are heavy with real disdain for the evils of modern society,” Sun-Times reporter Gilbert Jimenez wrote on July 31, 1987.
These new murals built on classic techniques and traditions while still finding ways to incorporate new ideas. Jimenez noted the “combination of Realist, Expressionist and Surrealist moves makes for an interesting new-old world cultural study.”
Exhibit curator Rene Arceo described the murals as “works of folk art, as far as their function is concerned, but as far as the quality of the artwork, and the way the artists manage the techniques and communication, they represent fine art.”
So many great artists saw their work featured in the exhibit. Marcos Raya, one of the main contributors of the Chicago Mural movement according to the museum’s pamphlet about the exhibit, painted “Policy Making in Central America,” and Hector Duarte, a renowned muralist still very active in Chicago, built a three-dimensional piece called “Our Daily Corn.”
The exhibit also provided space for female artists to stand out, though only two — Dulce Pulido and Juanita Jaramillo Lavadie — had artwork on display. For Pulido especially, “The Barrio Murals” was her first big show only having just launched her career.
"Untitled" by Dulce Pulido. Photo provided by the National Museum of Mexican Art.
"Untitled" by Dulce Pulido. Photo provided by the National Museum of Mexican Art.
Having so few female artists in the exhibit wasn’t unusual for the time, Moreno said.
“It used to be pretty much the guys and now that’s no longer the way it plays out,” Moreno said.
Many women would start their artistic careers, he explained, and then would stop to raise their families. This often made it difficult for them to get back into the art scene.
But that’s definitely changing. Moreno pointed to Judithe Hernández, a Los Angeles artist whose career took off in the 1970s and 80s. She eventually slowed down and moved to Chicago. In the late 90s, her daughter left for college, and she jumpstarted her art once more. In fact, the museum hosted her last major solo exhibit in the city in 2011 before she moved back to L.A., where her career continues to thrive.
Since “The Barrio Murals” debuted, murals have remained popular in Chicago, but Moreno has noticed subtle changes in today’s newer commissions, which he says seem to focus more on the individual artist rather than the community that will be viewing the work.
But the city’s mural culture remains strong. Duarte, one of the few local artists who identifies proudly as a muralist, still has plenty to say about his community.
Many of the artists featured in “The Barrio Murals” exhibit continue to have meaningful careers. Check out Hector Duarte, Mario Castillo, Aurelio Diaz Tekpankalli, Dulce Pulido, Marcos Raya and curator René Arceo. Remember, the National Museum of Mexican Art is open and always free.
For the sake of public health
The closest medical science has ever come to uncovering a true wonder drug would be Sir Alexander Fleming’s 1928 discovery of penicillin. Suddenly, common diseases that were difficult to treat (like syphilis) and others that had no cure at all (tuberculosis, for instance) met their match at last. 
How did penicillin change the world? Here’s a short list of a few diseases it could cure:
  • Pneumonia
  • Strep throat
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Diphtheria
  • Tuberculosis
Many of these diseases have disappeared from the U.S. or otherwise become far less deadly (though that is certainly not true for all corners of the world). While penicillin is not foolproof (resistance to antibiotics is a serious problem), it single-handedly saved countless lives and help to extend the average lifespan.
Fleming, who was born Aug. 6, 1881, discovered it by accident while working in St. Mary’s Hospital in London, according to the American Chemical Society. After returning from holiday in September 1928, the scientist noticed that in one of his Petri dishes containing Staphylococcus, a bacteria that causes sore throats, boils and abscesses, there was a section where absolutely no bacteria grew, just a blob of mold. Something connected to the mold had killed the bacteria.
Together with several assistants, Fleming isolated pure penicillin from the mold and published his findings in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology in June 1929, ACS said. 
But medicine didn’t change overnight. Even Fleming didn’t quite understand the ramifications of what he’d found. Ten years later, scientists at Oxford University began researching penicillin themselves, ACS wrote. They discovered its potential — how it stopped cell walls from growing stronger, leading them to eventually burst and kill the bacteria — and how to make it en masse.
And then another problem emerged: World War II. Although Oxford scientists continued to carry out experiments (and cure the first human patient in 1941 of a blood infection after he cut his mouth), the United Kingdom couldn’t handle mass production of the drug, ACS said.
Enter the United States. With much more room and the perk of being a safe distance from the battlefields, U.S. companies would take the research and begin building plants to manufacture penicillin.
On Nov. 10, 1943, Abbott Laboratories, based in North Chicago, announced it began work on a $400,000 plant that could “streamline production techniques that will increase its production of penicillin some 40 times,” Chicago Daily News reporter James C. Leary wrote. The government had given Abbott a special grant to fund the work.
Already, penicillin was being called a “miracle drug” for its ability to fight infections with limited toxic side effects, Leary noted. The U.S. Army and Navy had first dibs on the production, which would leave very little for civilians until after the war ended.
“It is so scarce,” the reporter explained, “and so valuable that the distribution has been placed in the hands of Dr. Chester S. Keefer of Evans Memorial Hospital in Boston, Mass., and the only way to get any for civilians’ use is for the doctor in the case to telephone Dr. Keefer and explain the case to him. If he thinks penicillin can affect the ultimate outcome, he will authorize its use — if it is available.”
Thankfully, that didn’t last long. On Jan. 11, 1944, Illinois’ health department announced it had received its own penicillin supply “to aid in the Illinois program which provides hospital care to newborn infants threatened with blindness.”
This might have been a reference to congenital syphilis, which can cause blindness in infants. Penicillin would’ve been able to cure both mother and child.
Later on Jan. 19, the paper reported that three Chicago-area people who were given penicillin to treat osteomyelitis, a bone infection, had shown improvements. A front-page story the following day detailed how a county doctor would be giving a Chicagoan penicillin to treat an infection caused by an earlier abdominal operation.
Although a lack of penicillin was certainly felt on the home front, the wonder drug saved thousands of lives in Europe and the Pacific. Before the Second World War, many wounded soldiers died not from battle-related injuries but from bacterial infections that developed due to open wounds or surgical operations to remove limbs. Now that doctors had penicillin, fewer soldiers died from secondary infections. They also spent less time recovering from communicable diseases passed between themselves like strep throat as well as sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea.
By April 1944, the total production of penicillin in the U.S. amounted to just nine pounds per day, according to Robert D. Coghill of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but this was a pretty big feat, reporter Leary wrote in a follow-up article. Though most supplies went straight to the military fighting overseas, Coghill predicted that following peacetime, “there will be sufficient [supplies] available to treat all urgent civilian cases in the relatively near future.”
He was right. After the war ended, penicillin became widely available and still continues to treat patients today.
In recognition of its work, Abbott received a plaque in 1999 from the American Chemical Society and Royal Society of Chemistry to commemorate the company’s contributions to penicillin production. It reads:
“In 1928, at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. This discovery led to the introduction of antibiotics that greatly reduced the number of deaths from infection. Howard W. Florey, at the University of Oxford working with Ernst B. Chain, Norman G. Heatley and Edward P. Abraham, successfully took penicillin from the laboratory to the clinic as a medical treatment in 1941. The large-scale development of penicillin was undertaken in the United States of America during the 1939-1945 World War, led by scientists and engineers at the Northern Regional Research Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture, Abbott Laboratories, Lederle Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc., Chas. Pfizer & Co. Inc., and E.R. Squibb & Sons. The discovery and development of penicillin was a milestone in twentieth century pharmaceutical chemistry.”
Read the American Chemical Society’s full history of penicillin. Here’s a look at how penicillin changed the world and, if you’re brave enough, what treating infections was like before the wonder drug.
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