---at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC

"America on the Move" is an exhibit at the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. To visit the online exhibit click here.  The curators chose Park Forest as one of the models of city to suburb transportation in the mid-Twentieth century.  The Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive were consulted via the Internet and through requests to the Archivist, Jane Nicoll.

The Park Forest portion of the exhibit displays a number of photographs from the Park Forest Archive. The central image in the display is a color newspaper ad which existed in only two copies in our collection. Also on display is a document written by then Village Manager John Scott, and then Village President Robert A Dinerstein.  It is a memo written to Village of Park Forest employees in the summer of 1959 on how to handle the move-in of the first Negro family--when and if it happened.  In reaction to racial unrest surrounding the integration of suburbs around the country, Park Forest's leaders wanted to insure the safe and peaceful reception of the first African American family, when one moved in.  Another panel tells the story of Park Forest residents, Leonard and Yvonne Robinson, whose story was told by Jack Star in Look Magazine in 1965?

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The NMAH was closed for upgrades from 2006 through November 2008.

You can see the Park Forest portion of the exhibit in photographs at the 1950s Park Forest House Museum and visit the exhibit's webpages from this page. The teacher section of their website contains lessons based on oral histories of Anthony Scariano and Yvonne Robinson. The Local History files at the library contain the publications and teacher materials produced by the Smithsonian.

smith america on the move classroom activity guide You can read the companion book, On the Move, by Michael Sweeney and Janet Davidson.  There are at least 4 pages on Park Forest, quoting oral history transcripts of Bernard Cunningham, Bob and Mary Dinerstein and Anthony Scariano.

Brief Summary:
Visit Park Forest, Illinois, a new suburb of Chicago, where every day is moving day. A 1955 "Woodie" station wagon and moving boxes sit in front of a new house and the new kids on the block are being approached by one of their young neighbors.  A TV blares with  a 1950s car ad, TV shows set in the suburbs, and a documentary about Park Forest.

America on the Move website