“Graceland Cemetery: Chicago Stories, Symbols, and Secrets” by Adam Selzer


“Graceland Cemetery: Chicago Stories, Symbols, and Secrets” author Adam Selzer. Photo Credit: Jen Bayona


“The dead do tell tales.

“The trick is to listen and when you do, you will learn that the great architect Louis Sullivan’s ‘grave was initially unmarked (when he died in 1924, he was out of fashion and in dire financial circumstances).’

“You will meet Thomas Barbour Bryan, the founder of Graceland Cemetery, a man who, among many accomplishments, spoke six languages, built railroads, founded Elgin, wrote comic poetry and was ‘probably the only person who knew both Abraham Lincoln and H.H. Holmes.’

“You will also come to know that ‘coyotes are common in urban cemeteries. Shy around people, Graceland’s resident coyotes are a vital part of the cemetery’s ecosystem.’

“These tantalizing bits of information are delivered by Adam Selzer, a prolific and stylish writer, tireless tour guide, podcaster and passionate researcher. They arrived in his latest book, “Graceland Cemetery: Chicago Stories, Symbols, and Secrets” (3 Fields Books, an imprint of the University of Illinois Press).

“In it he writes, ‘Taken as a whole, these stories at Graceland present a unique lens through which to view American history. And there’s always more to find.’

“‘I had started giving tours there some years ago,’ he said. ‘There are many, of course many, people there who have had books written about them but I was finding and seeking stories about some of the others. There are some 175,000 bodies there and that makes for a lot of stories.’

“Though the book can be used a guide for do-it-yourself walking tours, it is lively joy to read on your couch. It is a book about, as Selzer writes, ‘people who were famous in their day but haven’t had anything written about them since their epitaphs were carved. … It’s easy to forget, but good to remember, that the people here were once alive, and that there was more to their lives than business transactions and weddings.”‘ (Kogan, Chicago Tribune, 8/2/22)

Read the full review at Chicago Tribune

The dead keep telling tales and the new book ‘Graceland Cemetery’ is alive with hundreds of them, Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, 8/2/22

Register for Graceland Cemetery Walking Tour and Book Release, August 14, 2022

Purchase “Graceland Cemetery: Chicago Stories, Symbols, and Secrets” by Adam Selzer from the University of Illinois Press


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