Settlement Speakers Bureau

Looking for a speaker for your next program or event? The Settlement Speakers Bureau brings Naper Settlement's team of historians to you. Fees start at $250 per presentation, regardless of audience size. These programs can be booked on-site or on the road. Each presentation lasts 60-90 minutes including a Q&A session. Naper Settlement can provide a screen and projector by request at no additional charge.

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National, State, or Regional Focus

Unvarnished: Housing Discrimination in the Northern and Western US

Learn how housing discrimination (often based on race, ethnicity, or religion) was a large-scale system that resulted in segregation patterns across the Northern and Western United States that intensified over the twentieth century. In addition to the national context, visitors will examine how system-wide discrimination shaped the six communities in the Northern and Western United States including Appleton, WI, Brea, CA, Columbus, OH, Naperville, IL, Oak Park, IL, and West Hartford, CT. By examining communities in these regions, the project aims to educate visitors and encourage every community to look at their own histories.

Illinois: A Leader in Suffrage

How did Illinois women play a vital role in the suffrage movement for voting access? Learn about the long road to the 19th Amendment and how Illinois women advocated for enfranchisement. The story of the first woman to vote in Illinois, Attorney Ellen Martin from DuPage County, is featured in the presentation. 

The Anti-Slavery Movement in DuPage County

Illinoisans played prominent roles in antislavery movements preceding the Civil War. Understanding the wide range of motivations that might lie behind any given individual’s opposition to slavery – commitment to human rights, belief in racial equality, economic considerations, and religious convictions – is important to understanding the escalation to war. Learn the complexity of responses to the idea of slavery in the early days of statehood and the role the Underground Railroad played in the lives of Freedom Seekers throughout Illinois. 

Voyageurs, Vertical Log Cabins, Villes: French Colonial History in Illinois

While England colonized the east coast prior to the Revolutionary War, the French colonial settlements in the Illinois country were significantly different in a variety of ways. Learn about the vast and often prosperous forts, churches, and villages that French explorers, soldiers, missionaries, merchants, and fur traders established between the mid-1600s and the War of 1812. Colonial History in Illinois: C'est français!

Naperville Focus

Amazing Women in Naperville

Clarissa Hobson, Caroline Martin Mitchell, Hannah Ditzler, Genevieve Towsley, May Watts, Mary Lou Cowlishaw, Pam Meyers Davis, Antonia Harlan, Nancy Chen…if you don’t know about these amazing Naperville women, you should! Listen to stories of women, past and present, who were and are foundational in the formation and development of Naperville and beyond. 

Joseph Naper’s Original Homestead

Learn the story of Joseph Naper’s journey from Ohio to Illinois, and what the things he left behind tell us about him, his family and Naperville. This presentation features a selection of the more than 23,000 items found at the Joseph Naper Homestead archaeological dig undertaken in 2006-2007.  Participants will also learn about archeological techniques and the creation of the interpretive park.

Naperville’s 20th Century Boom

Naperville gained unprecedented growth in the mid-20th century. Suburban sprawl converted family farms into thousands of homes.  Like many communities throughout DuPage in the 1950s, it was transformed into a commuter suburb—and like most, used devices that strictly limited who could move in. Learn about the many achievements and difficult trials of Naperville’s transformative 20th century change. 

100 Years in the Making: Downtown Naperville and the Riverwalk

Considered the crown jewel of Naperville, the Riverwalk is a place of beauty and tranquility along the DuPage River.  It features brick paths, fountains, bridges, meeting and event places, outdoor sculpture and artwork, recreational facilities, and celebratory memorials.  Largely developed for the 150th Celebration of Naperville in 1981, plans for a riverside park began far earlier.  Learn about the placemaking history of this public space. 

Answering the Call: Naperville During WWII

World War II was a crucial change point in the building of Naperville. Approximately 20% of residents left Naperville to serve in the armed forces. Learn about those who remained and made significant contributions to the war effort through victory gardens, war bond drives, Red Cross service work, supply drives, manufacturing at Kroehler, and the Japanese Americans that were relocated from internment camps to work in the farms around Naperville.

Kroehler Manufacturing Company’s Impact on Naperville

Peter Edward Kroehler transformed a Naperville furniture-making business from the Naperville Lounge Company into Kroehler Manufacturing Company.  The factory’s move to 5th Avenue, alongside the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad tracks, catapulted the company into becoming the world’s largest producer of upholstered furniture and one of the town’s biggest employers.  

How to Research Your House

A presentation covering the basics of house research.  Participants will learn what records are available at the county, on-line, public libraries, and Naper Settlement Archives/Library to help them discover the story of their house.  In addition, the application for the Naperville Heritage Society Plaque Program will be introduced and explained.

Walking Tours

Three outdoor walking tours ($15 per person) are offered weekly on Thursdays from May-October:

  • Town and Gown Walking Tour: Explore the east side of downtown Naperville and learn about the ways the community developed along with North Central College.
  • Westside Walking Tour: Listen to stories from Naperville’s founding to the generosity of Caroline Martin Mitchell on a walking tour of the west side of downtown Naperville.
  •  Architecture Tour: Learn about the important and interesting architecture from the 1800s to today that makes downtown Naperville a beautiful place to live, work, and play.

Tours of Naper Settlement

Enjoy a walk through the past with a guided tour of Naper Settlement!  Tours offered year-round and are indoor/outdoor. Tour fees are $15 per person and group rates are offered for over 15 people.