• Identification00067102
  • TitleDescriptive inventory for the Thales Kaster papers, 1939-1985, bulk 1965-1980
  • PublisherChicago Historical Society
  • Language
    • English.
    • English
  • RepositoryChicago History Museum Research Center 1601 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614-6038
  • OriginationThales Kaster Chicago Public Schools Chicago Teachers Union
  • Date
    • 1939-1985
    • 1965-1980
  • Physical Description
    • 8.5 linear feet (20 boxes)
    • 1 oversize folder
  • Location
    • MSS Lot K
    • MSS Oversize K
    • MSS AlphaV G

Processed with funding provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Advance appointment with special permission required to view a small portion of the collection.

All rights owned by the donor, including copyright, were deeded to Chicago Historical Society. Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.

Materials were a gift of Thales Kaster (accession #: M1978.0020, M1978.0058, M1979.0072, M1980.0030, M1982.0061, M1983.0052, M1984.0175, M1985.0034).

Thales Kaster papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Letters to editors, correspondence, insurance business files, legal documents, research files, newsletters, newspaper clippings, student compositions, photographs, and other papers of Thales Kaster, a Chicago insurance broker and public school teacher known for his prolific writing of letters to newspaper editors. Most of the collection consists of Kaster's letters to editors (1967-1985) on topics such as education and the Chicago Public Schools, violence and crime, the Watergate scandal, economics, race relations, and religion. Also present are materials relating to Kaster's teaching career at public schools in West Pullman, activities in the Chicago Greek American community, and work as an insurance broker.

Thales Kaster, a Chicago insurance broker and English teacher, began writing letters of response and commentary to local newspapers in 1948 and continued until his death in 1986. Kaster wrote more than 8,500 editorial letters that were published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Daily News, and other local and national newspapers. Topics varied widely and included Chicago Public Schools, violence, economics, race relations, and religion. Kaster was also active within the Chicago Greek American community and was the founding member of the Committee for the Preservation of the Shrine for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Related material at the Chicago History Museum, Research Center, includes the Chicago Teachers Union records.

  • Names
    • Kaster, Thales, -1986--Archives
    • Brenan School (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Poe School (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Chicago Public Schools
    • Chicago Teachers Union
  • Subject
    • African American students--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Greek Americans--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago--20th century
    • Insurance agents--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Public schools--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Students--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Teachers--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
  • Geographic Coverage
    • Chicago (Ill.)--Politics and government--20th century
    • United States--Politics and government--20th century
    • West Pullman (Chicago, Ill.)

Some autographed materials are stored in the vault.

This collection has been organized only in a general manner. Therefore, items about a particular topic may be scattered throughout the collection.

The collection is arranged in five series.

Series 1. General materials, 1939-1985 (box 1-3, OSFF 1)

Series 1 consists of correspondence, financial records, certificates, photographs, and other documents related to Thales Kaster's personal activities. Also present are Kaster’s teaching materials from public elementary schools, particularly Thomas Brenan School (11411 S. Eggleston Ave) and Edgar Allen Poe School (10538 S. Langley Avenue) in the West Pullman community area of Chicago, where many of his students were African American. Includes student compositions on race relations and the hazards of cigarette smoke, copies of the Brenan Star school newspaper, and two posters from Chicago Teachers Union strikes (ca. 1975; housed in oversized storage).

Series 2. Clippings, 1976-1985 (box 3)

Series 2 contains newspaper clippings from Chicago and national newspapers and other publications, such as the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Daily, National Inquirer, and Reader’s Digest. Topics include crime, Chicago Public Schools policies, and public education, race relations, religion, and violence. The majority of the clippings were not written by Kaster, but several photocopies of his published articles are included.

Series 3. Greek cultural materials, 1967-1970 (box 4)

Series 3 consists of newspaper clippings, newsletters, brochures, and other materials related to Greek culture and the Chicago Greek American community. Newsletters include copies of The Greek Press and Chicago PNYX (1967). Also present are correspondence, meeting minutes, financial records, and other materials related to the Committee for the Preservation of the Shrine for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of which Thales Kaster was a founding member and secretary.

Series 4. Insurance broker materials, 1948-1979 (box 5-6)

Series 4 contains correspondence, insurance certificates, two financial ledgers, business cards, and articles written to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Daily News, and other newspapers on insurance and financial issues. Also present are notes and programs from the 1966 Mid-America Regional Business Conference and materials pertaining to the speech “Why an Insurance Consultant?” given by Kaster in 1968 at Franklin Boulevard Hospital.

Series 5. Letters to the editor, 1967-1985 (box 7-20)

Series 5 contains correspondence, newspaper articles, and published quips, jokes, and commentary written and collected by Thales Kaster. Topics vary widely and include school policy, religion, race relations, the economy, and violence. Also included are copies of compositions written or drawn by Kaster's students, which he submitted to local newspapers. Some articles written by Kaster were published under his pen names, such as Rachel Balance and Billy Z. Barton (1960s-1970s). Box 20 contains research materials and a draft of an article titled "The Uncovered Cover of Watergate" (1978). Materials are arranged in Kaster’s original groupings of date, newspaper, location, and topic.