History in the headlines: Palatine man used the Daily Herald to tell the suburbs' story

  • David Hammer, a Palatine Historical Society member, has spent countless hours indexing Daily Herald headlines and topics from 1901 to 2019 to create a massive, 14-volume index telling the story of the suburbs.

      David Hammer, a Palatine Historical Society member, has spent countless hours indexing Daily Herald headlines and topics from 1901 to 2019 to create a massive, 14-volume index telling the story of the suburbs. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/26/2020 7:42 AM

An 18-year labor of love for Palatine Historical Society member David Hammer is coming to an end with the upcoming publication of his 8,826-page index of the people, places and happenings of the suburbs since the turn of the 20th century.

David Hammer's 18-year labor of love, an 8,826-page index of Daily Herald stories that tell the story of the suburbs, is set to publish April 6.
  David Hammer's 18-year labor of love, an 8,826-page index of Daily Herald stories that tell the story of the suburbs, is set to publish April 6. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Culled from the pages of the Daily Herald, the 14-volume "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019" features about 95,000 subjects and 34,000 people from the suburbs, Chicago and northeastern Illinois, all in an A to Z sequence.

"It's an alphabetical list of subjects," Hammer said. "And under each subject is the chronological list of headlines, so that a historian who wants to write a story about the history of Roselle would consult my work and it'll show headlines from 1901 -- because Roselle is an old town -- all the way up to 2019."

Palatine Historical Society member David Hammer has assembled "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019." An example of his work mentions this photographer using a drone at his work at the Daily Herald.
  Palatine Historical Society member David Hammer has assembled "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019." An example of his work mentions this photographer using a drone at his work at the Daily Herald. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Set to publish April 6, it's the third and final edition of the index for Hammer, a 34-year historical society member who's volunteered thousands of hours of free time to index headlines and topics over 18 years.

It continues "Daily Herald Index 1901-1945," which was published in 2002. That initial index, which includes headlines and topics from all Paddock Publications papers from 1901-1945, came from about a year of reading or skimming roughly 40,000 newspaper stories.

David Hammer of the Palatine Historical Society spent countless hours indexing headlines and topics for "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019."
  David Hammer of the Palatine Historical Society spent countless hours indexing headlines and topics for "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019." - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Hammer, a bus driver for Roslyn Road Elementary School in Barrington Area Unit District 220, said the index will be particularly valuable because many topics are not available over online search engines or fade from cyberspace over time.

"You're not going to be able to find the chronology of a local church very easily on Google," said Hammer, a Palatine resident.

David Hammer's 8,826-page index of Daily Herald stories is set to publish April 6. "This is going to be very valuable to historians," he said. "They won't be able to write a local history without referring to this work."
  David Hammer's 8,826-page index of Daily Herald stories is set to publish April 6. "This is going to be very valuable to historians," he said. "They won't be able to write a local history without referring to this work." - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Hammer's work has garnered statewide attention. For example, he received a certificate of excellence award from the Illinois State Historical Society for his 2003 book "The Township of Palatine: Understanding Local Government."

Public libraries and historical societies are part of the target audience for "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019." Libraries in Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Barrington, Elgin and elsewhere purchased the first index.

Palatine Historical Society member David Hammer has assembled "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019." His new effort is a continuation of "Daily Herald Index 1901-1945," which was published in 2002.
  Palatine Historical Society member David Hammer has assembled "Daily Herald Index 1901-2019." His new effort is a continuation of "Daily Herald Index 1901-1945," which was published in 2002. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Hammer said the index is being sold at cost for $1,200. For more information, contact the Palatine Historical Society at (847) 991-6460, email claysonhouse@palatineparks.org or visit palatinehistoricalsociety.com.

"This is going to be very valuable to historians," he said. "They won't be able to write a local history without referring to this work."

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