Meet Your Docent - Tiffany Middleton

Vol. XXIV No. 4 - WINTER 2013

When Tiffany and her husband Jonas moved to Chicago from Cleveland in 2008, they asked every waiter, waitress and shopkeeper what neighborhood on the north side and close to the lake might be great. One waitress suggested Andersonville, Uptown and Edgewater, and they fell in love with the proximity to the city, the lake, the neighborhood vibe, as well as the variety of things to do without heading downtown. Jonas actually discovered EHS before Tiffany. In exploring their new neighborhood, he discovered a historical society with a museum in an old firehouse and a website filled with articles about the neighborhood. Jonas suggested she check it out. After Tiffany went to a Radio Players program in early 2010, the rest – as they say – is history.

Tiffany comes from a family of volunteers. In Tiffany’s words, “In the grand scheme of things, volunteer efforts have always changed communities, cities, and the world. Some of the greatest social movements, revolutions, protests, and changes in history are the result of volunteers. Volunteering fills the gap between government and social services, and it’s essential to a healthy society. It’s something everyone can do no matter where they are, or what their circumstance, and truly make a difference in their community. It takes your mind to a different place, uses different skills, and adds richness to your life that I believe nourishes the soul.”

Tiffany thinks EHS is special because not only is EHS a pure neighborhood volunteer effort, but it also “tries to buck the trend of insular neighborhood blue-haired lady historical societies, and really explores the history of Edgewater. Folks at EHS are curious, problem-solvers, and risk takers, and this shines in museum exhibits and programming. It made me want to be part of it.”

Other hobbies and interests of Tiffany include cooking and baking. But she is also a new author who wrote a history of the Clydesdale Motor Truck Company, which existed in her hometown of Clyde, Ohio, from 1917 to 1939. In 2011, Tiffany met a collector, Jim Semon who wanted someone to turn his images and ephemera into a book. Tiffany turned it into a full-fledged historical research project. Knowing nothing about trucks, she set out to write a book about trucks, and one trucking company, that she would actually want to read. Turns out this little trucking company in her hometown provided an amazing window into early 20th century transportation, from World War I, to farmers transitioning from horses, to the invention of the diesel engine, to today. Stay tuned, “The Clydesdale Motor Truck Company: An Illustrated History, 1917-1939” will be available from McFarland Publishing in Spring, 2014, and she promises it will be interesting!