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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 is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers. Established in 1856, the Museum is now at 1601 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park, its third location. As a major museum and research center for Chicago and U.S. history, the Chicago History Museum strives to be a destination for learning, inspiration and civic engagement. Through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming, the Museum connects people to Chicago’s history and to each other. To share Chicago stories, the Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents, images and other items that are relevant to the city’s history. The Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. 

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories