Graceland Cemetery

Chicago Stories, Symbols, and Secrets
Author: Adam Selzer
A guidebook for exploring the city's popular tour site
Paper – $19.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 08/09/2022
Series: 3 Fields Books
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About the Book

One of Chicago’s landmark attractions, Graceland Cemetery chronicles the city’s sprawling history through the stories of its people. Local historian and Graceland tour guide Adam Selzer presents ten walking tours covering almost the entirety of the cemetery grounds. While nodding to famous Graceland figures from Marshall Field to Ernie Banks to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Selzer also leads readers past the vaults, obelisks, and other markers that call attention to less recognized Chicagoans like:
  • Jessie Williams de Priest, the Black wife of a congressman whose 1929 invitation to a White House tea party set off a storm of controversy;
  • Engineer and architect Fazlur Khan, the Bangladeshi American who revived the city's skyscraper culture;
  • The still-mysterious Kate Warn (listed as Warn on her tombstone), the United States’ first female private detective.

Filled with photographs and including detailed maps of each tour route, Graceland Cemetery is an insider's guide to one of Chicago's great outdoor destinations for city lore and history.

About the Author

Adam Selzer is the author of numerous books on Chicago, history, and folklore, including H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil.


"Though the book can be used a guide for do-it-yourself walking tours, it is lively joy to read on your couch. It is a book about, as Selzer writes, 'people who were famous in their day but haven’t had anything written about them since their epitaphs were carved. It’s easy to forget, but good to remember, that the people here were once alive, and that there was more to their lives than business transactions and weddings.'" --Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune

"Most human beings resting in Graceland’s folds weren’t movers and shakers. Most were simply present for a time, but nevertheless interesting through some brief brush with greatness or ignominy. Selzer gives these fascinating transient creatures a few more moments in the sun." --Third Coast Review

"In this remarkable compilation of anecdotes, Selzer reminds us that each of us has a life to live before death. We can prepare for death and maybe even consider Graceland as our resting place, but it’s a reminder that we, too, need to live our lives to the fullest because there will be people who remember us, and there may also be people who write about us. Graceland cemetery is what unites these people, and their life accomplishments have shaped our history, no matter how big or small." --NewCity

"Excellent reading for both tourists and armchair travelers Selzer’s work may also prove useful for genealogical collections." --Booklist


"Through his deep research, Selzer has turned up fascinating stories about the famous and obscure people buried at Graceland. This handy guide offers a fresh way of looking at the city’s history: a compelling group portrait of Chicagoans from all walks of life."--Robert Loerzel, author of Walking Chicago: 35 Tours of the Windy City's Dynamic Neighborhoods and Famous Lakeshore


• Chosen, 2024 Illinois Reads Program, Illinois Reading Council