Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

32° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Vintage postcards show Evanston’s past

For Mimi Peterson, postcards are more than vacation souvenirs. Over the past several years, the 43-year-old lifelong Evanston resident has amassed a collection of more than 300 vintage postcards of her hometown.

“It was very small at first,” she said. “I had one here and there. But I wasn’t really as avid as I became.”

After she attended a postcard show with a friend, her collection grew, she said.

Peterson featured more than 200 of her postcards in her book, “Evanston”, published in March. The book includes Evanston and Northwestern landmarks, including Fisk Hall, Sheridan Road and Fountain Square.

Peterson didn’t intend to write a book when she began her postcard collection, she said. Her interest began when she stumbled on another book, “Chicago Skyscrapers in Vintage Postcards.”

“I’m looking through the book, and I’m thinking, ‘I could do that,'” she said. “I contacted the publisher and started conversation about my own collection and they were really interested. They really wanted to have a book on Evanston.”

The publisher, Arcadia Publishing, specializes in local history books like Peterson’s.

“(The books) are all black and white; they’re all kind of unique in that they’re about a small local community,” Publicity Manager Teresa Simmons said. “We try to celebrate that. The basic mission is we’re trying to make history accessible through our books.”

It took Peterson a little more than a year to complete her book, using the Evanston History Center and her own Evanston history books to research certain buildings and time periods.

“Evanston really does have a story,” she said. “It’s really nice to be able to share my postcard collection because it really offers a look at what Evanston was.”

Peterson said she has mixed feelings about the Evanston changes she has witnessed during her lifetime.

“We need a balance where we can preserve the quality of the character that we love,” she said.

But she said she wants to see the city “transform itself and be a more vibrant community.”

Peterson’s childhood home was one of the oldest houses in town. And in 2005, she was a candidate for alderwoman.

Peterson is now planning several events relating to her book. Her next book signing is at Barnes & Noble, 1603 Sherman Ave., on April 24.

As a mother of three, Peterson said reminds her kids of what she loves about Evanston.

“I have been to a lot of places in the country, and every time we get out of town, and when we return to town, I keep repeating ‘You kids don’t realize how lucky you are to live in this city so close to the lake,’ ” she said. “It’s the lake, the lake, the lake, the lake.”

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Vintage postcards show Evanston’s past