CHM will be open on Monday, July 4 more

My Trunk, My Story

Chicago is a city of immigrants. In 1850, 50% of Chicago’s population was born outside of the US, with Irish and Germans making up a bulk of those residents. Many more European immigrants came to Chicago throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s, including Polish, Italians, Jewish, Lithuanians, among others. African Americans also migrated from the South to Chicago, and other northern and west coast cities, starting in the 1910s in well into the 1970s. This became known as the Great Migration. Although Mexican immigrants were making Chicago their home since the early 1900s, a large number of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants made their way to Chicago in the mid-1900s, and continue to arrive and thrive in the city.

All of these immigrants and migrants had to make the tough decision to pack up their trunks, leave their homes, and set out for a new life. With them, they most likely brought personal, cultural, and other important items to remember and honor their previous homes, anchor their new lives with familiar items, and helped to tell their story.

What items do you have, that you would put in your trunk that would help tell your story?

Find directions & start the activity here!


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