Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum more

4.14 | She Knows Who She Is

Need some motivation for working from home? We’re finding inspiration in Robert Ford, a Chicago writer, DJ, publisher, advocate, and cultural documentarian who published Thing magazine out of his apartment from 1989 to 1993. The magazine was a platform for black LGBTQ+ life and its issues were filled with art, music, poetry, and articles about black culture, LGBTQ+ culture, HIV/AIDS activism, and much more.

When asked about his hopes for the project, Ford stated, “We knew for ourselves what a rich and important cultural thing gay black men have and share. We wanted to make a magazine that would be a way of documenting our existence and contribution to society.”

Robert Ford passed away at the age of 32 on October 4, 1994, due to AIDS-related complications. His friends and family preserved his work and brought it to the Chicago History Museum in 1995. The writings, publications, photographs, research, audio, and video created by Ford and everyone at Thing are available to all who wish to view them in our Research Center. Explore a selection of this work in our online Google Arts & Culture exhibit, Thing: She Knows Who She Is. Explore the exhibit.

Thing no. 4 cover (1991), CHM, ICHi-177004; Thing no. 6 cover (1992), CHM, ICHi-177006; Thing no. 5 cover (1991), CHM, ICHi-177005



The Chicago History Museum, a major museum and research center for Chicago and American history, is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. The Museum has dedicated more than a century to celebrating and sharing Chicago stories through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming. The Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents and images to help audiences connect to the city and its history. The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum is a 2016 winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest award given to these institutions for their community engagement and having an impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories