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Date with History

Visitors Center
Thursday, December 1
7:00 PM CDT

Hybrid program – view in person or online!

In person: Free event with paid parking.
Virtual: Free event registration required.

Zoom Registration

About Date with History

Our Date with History series, now in its 15th year, features presentations by authors, historians, documentarians, and veterans on a variety of military history topics. Visit Cantigny or attend online to connect with these experts in a lecture and Q&A format.

Chicago’s Arsenal of Democracy

Over 1,400 Chicago companies converted almost overnight from peacetime to war production in World War II. Along with the first major introduction of women into the labor force, it became the most successful mobilization of brains and muscles in American history. With rare images, see the same locales as they were and as they are, including the largest war factory ever built. Presented by Elmhurst historian Jerome M. O’Connor, the 2001 U.S. Naval Institute’s Author of the Year and current author of The Hidden Places of World War II.

Meet the Speaker: Jerome M. O’Connor has been a professional journalist since his twenties while simultaneously building a travel firm specializing in the planning and operation of international travel and study programs for professional associations. His four-page 1978 Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine feature was the first to reveal – seven years before opening to become one of London’s most visited museums – the intact existence of Winston Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms.

O’Connor’s contribution to the history of World War II included cover features for leading special interest magazines, including the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings and Naval History, World War II, British Heritage, and others. In 2001, before the graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy, he was given the U.S Naval Institute’s “Author of the Year” award for revealing the near-intact existence of Nazi German’s five massive U-boat bunker bases along the French Atlantic coast. His disclosure of Bletchley Park, where 12,000 British codebreakers broke the Nazi Enigma cipher device, was the first to discover the intact but ignored enclave in the British countryside. Over the years, O’Connor has written for the Chicago Tribune Perspective, Chicago Flashback, and international section.

Assembling and expanding decades of experience resulted in the 2019 publication by Lyons Press of The Hidden Places of World War II. Now in paperback and continuing in hardbound and Kindle editions, the 340-page work has sold thousands of copies and is in bookstores and on Amazon at 96% reader recommendation and 100% professional reviewer approval.

Jerome M. O’Connor, the only son of Irish immigrants, is a South Side (Englewood and Chatham) native, Mount Carmel High School and Loyola University graduate, and U.S. Navy destroyer veteran, enlisting at age seventeen. He is a decades long Elmhurst resident who enjoys bicycling on the adjacent Prairie Path and is a Naples, Florida, seasonal resident.

Are you a teacher?

Illinois teachers can earn 1 PD credit for watching the presentation and completing a short PD activity.

Step 1: Register for the webinar above.

Step 2: Register to be on the teacher list for the PD activity and ISBE forms.

  This program includes built-in closed captioning through Zoom.