Chief Historian Emeritus
EXPERTISE: Russell Lewis’s area of expertise includes but is not limited to the following Chicago topics: The Great Chicago Fire; early Chicago history and settlements; segregation; Camp Douglas and the Civil War.
EXPERIENCE: Chicago History Museum Chief Historian Emeritus, 2019–present; Executive Vice President and Chief Historian, 2005–19; Acting President, 2005; Andrew W. Mellon Director for Collections and Research, 1996–2004; Assistant Director for Research and Curatorial Affairs, 1995–96; Director of Curatorial Affairs, 1993–95; Director of Publications, 1986–93; Editor, 1985–86; Associate Editor, 1984–85; and Assistant Editor, 1982–84.
EDUCATION: MA, American Culture, University of Michigan, 1975; BA, Anthropology, University of Florida, 1973.
Russell Lewis was responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the Museum’s mission to creatively explore and showcase Chicago’s history and culture, and for preserving, managing, building, and making accessible to the public, the Museum’s collection of more than 22 million documents and artifacts.
Lewis has been involved in the development of numerous museum exhibitions and community history initiatives. He has led a number of digitization projects, including The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory (1996); Wet with Blood: The Investigation of Mary Todd Lincoln’s Cloak (2004); Studs Terkel: Conversations with America (2002); and the online version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago. He is the author of Historic Photos of Chicago (2006), and Historic Photos of The Chicago’s World’s Fair (2010), as well as articles on urban planning, Abraham Lincoln, and biohistorical research.
Lewis was awarded the 2018 Distinguished Career Award from the Association of Midwest Museums. He has also served on numerous committees for the American Association of Museums, the Organization of American Historians, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museums and Library Services. Lewis serves on the boards of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society, the Illinois State Historical Society, the Friends of DuSable, the American Association for State and Local History, Chicago Historical Society. He is an advisor to the History Makers and Ford’s Theater. He was codirector of the Chicago History Museum’s Urban History Seminar.