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Unloading rolls of paper from a horse drawn cart. Nov 7th 1903.

[Detail] Unloading rolls of paper from a horse drawn cart. Nov 7th 1903.

Collection Overview

Photographs from the Chicago Daily News, 1902-1933, presents over 55,000 images taken by photographers of the Chicago Daily News from 1902-1933. The images include slice of life images from Chicago and the surrounding community as well as images of noted politicians, sports figures and other prominent figures that visited Chicago. The special presentations include information on the operation of the paper, on the newsboys that worked on the paper and on the development of football and information on reporting done on Native Americans. The Chicago Historical Society developed this collection.

Special Features

These online exhibits provide context and additional information about this collection.

Historical Eras

These historical era(s) are best represented in the collection although they may not be all-encompassing.

  • Emergence of Modern America, 1890-1930

Related Collections and Exhibits

These collections and exhibits contain thematically-related primary and secondary sources. Also browse the Collection Finder for more related material on the American Memory Web site.

Other Resources

Recommended additional sources of information.

Search Tips

Specific guidance for searching this collection.

Search the collection using the keyword search, or browse the Subject or Names indexes. For help with general search strategies, see Finding Items in American Memory.

History

Labor

During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, workers throughout the United States went on strike to demand higher wages, shorter hours, and the ability to negotiate through unions. Chicago, one of the largest and most tumultuous cities of the era, became the setting for two events that drew the attention of the entire nation to the conflicts between capital and labor.

In 1886, a labor demonstration at Chicago's Haymarket Square ended in a violent confrontation between Chicago police and labor protesters. Search on Haymarket for photographs of the location of this infamous riot and refer to the American Memory collection, Chicago Anarchists on Trial: Evidence from the Haymarket Affair, 1886-1887 to learn more about the riot and the trial that followed.

In 1894, workers of the Pullman Company, a railroad car manufacturer, went on strike when owner, George Pullman, fired over 2,000 workers and reduced wages by an average 25 percent. Soon, the American Railway Union, led by Eugene Debs, took command of the strike, calling on rail workers throughout Chicago to stop operating trains carrying Pullman cars. The strike seriously disrupted the nation's rail service and put considerable pressure on Pullman to negotiate. But Pullman, along with other railroad companies, solicited President Grover Cleveland, who sent in federal troops to restore train service. Search on Pullman for numerous pictures of the company town where the disgruntled employees of the Pullman Company worked and lived.

  • Why did the Haymarket Affair and the Pullman strike end up being set backs for the labor movement?
  • What if any victories came out of these events for the labor movement?
  • Why do you think that business owners such as George Pullman created company towns such as Pullman, Illinois, located just outside of Chicago?
  • What would you expect the town to have been like at the time of the Pullman strike?
  • What are the pros and cons of a company town?

Eugene V. Debs became a national figure during the Pullman strike and later ran for president five times on the Socialist Party ticket. Search on socialist for images of Debs and his colleagues. Other radical labor organizers of the day were often drawn to Chicago, including William "Big Bill" Haywood, organizer of the Industrial Workers of the World, anarchist Emma Goldman, and Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor. The collection also includes photographs of William Bross Lloyd, a millionaire from Winnetka, Illinois, and one of the organizers of the Communist Labor Party, and populist Jacob Coxey, who organized "Coxey's Army" to march on Washington in 1894 in a failed effort to seek a national public works relief program to provide jobs for the unemployed.

  • How did labor unrest impact early-twentieth-century politics?

Chicago continued to be a center of labor activity in the early-twentieth century with the Chicago City Railway strike of 1903, the Stockyard strike of 1904, the Garment Workers strike of 1915, and the Bloomington and Normal Electric Power and Railway strike of 1917, all involving confrontations with police. Use the Subject Index heading, Chicago City Railway Company workers strike and the search terms, stockyards strike, garment workers, and Bloomington Normal for photographs of these conflicts.

Chicago police arrested a number of demonstrators during this period, including Lucy Parsons, the widow of Albert Parsons, one of the men hanged following the Haymarket Affair of 1886. She was arrested in 1915 during an unemployment protest at Hull House. Search on Parsons for a portrait of this famous labor leader.

  • Why do you think that Chicago was the center for so much labor activity during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries?
  • Why do you think that events in Chicago ended up figuring so significantly in United States labor history?

Search on worker for images of Chicago's diverse working class. Search on labor for images of Chicagoans celebrating Labor Day, which was first proposed by the Central Labor Union of New York in 1883 to recognize the contributions of American workers to national prosperity and to afford workers and their families a day of rest and recreation.

  • What kinds of jobs are depicted in these images of Chicago workers?
  • How many of these jobs are outdated?
  • How did Chicagoans celebrate Labor Day in the early-twentieth century?
  • How have labor and Labor Day changed over time?

World War I: The Home Front

When Serbian nationalists assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne on June 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary essentially used it as an opportunity to declare war on Serbia. This called into action a network of historic alliances that pitted the joined forces of Austria-Hungary and Germany against an alliance of Serbia, Russia, France, Britain, Japan, and Italy in a conflict that came to be known as World War I.

President Woodrow Wilson declared a U.S. policy of absolute neutrality. However, when Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare threatened American commerce in 1917, the U.S. finally joined the Allies.

With the U.S. declaration of war on April 6, 1917, forces mobilized throughout the country. Camp Grant was opened just south of Rockford, Illinois to train soldiers for combat. Search on Camp Grant for images of recruits reporting for duty, receiving their uniforms, training with horses, rifles, bayonets, grenades, and machine guns, the weapon that came to dominate and epitomize the battles of World War I.

  • What kinds of skills did soldiers receive at Camp Grant?
  • How well do you think this training would have prepared them for their experience over seas?

Of the men drafted during World War I, over 350,000 were African Americans. The Army was strictly segregated and organized two African-American divisions that sent 40,000 soldiers into combat in Europe. One of the divisions served with the French Army, sustaining a casualty rate of 35 percent. The division's 369th Infantry Regiment spent more time on the front lines than any other American unit, and in six months never surrendered an inch of territory. Search on African American soldier for the few images of soldiers of the 8th Artillery Regiment and the 365th Infantry.

In addition to serving in the military, Americans were encouraged to support the war effort by buying Liberty Bonds. The Chicago Daily News, like other newspapers throughout the country, conducted Liberty Bond drives. Photographs of promotional activities feature Boy Scouts in military uniforms selling Liberty Bonds, Chicago White Sox players buying Liberty Bonds on the field at Comiskey Park, notable ladies preparing to drop Liberty Loan circulars from airplanes, and Liberty Loan parades. Search on Liberty Bond for photographs of other bond drive activities.

The Chicago Daily News also sponsored a poster exhibition to increase sympathy for the French during the war. Search on war poster for images of the 1918 exhibit and several posters, including one saluting the African colonial troops serving with the French Army.

  • How did photographs help to promote bond drives to help finance the war?
  • How would photographs of Boy Scouts, White Sox baseball players, and entertainment personalities have helped to sell war bonds?
  • Why would it have been important to increase American sympathy for the French during the war?
  • How would these war posters from France have helped to achieve this?

After four years, World War I finally ended on November 11, 1918 when the Allies and Germans signed an Armistice in the Forest of Compiegne. People celebrated across the globe. Search on Armistice 1918 to see how Chicagoans celebrated the restoration of peace.

  • What symbols predominated in the celebrations on Armistice Day, 1918?
  • What sorts of sentiments are reflected in these celebrations?

Social Services

The late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries were characterized by a spirit of reform. Americans created organizations and provided social services to relieve and combat various social ills that appeared with industrialization and urbanization. Refer to the Subject Index heading, Chicago (Ill.) - social conditions, for images reflecting the variety of problems facing American cities, from unemployment to child labor. Search on abuse and corruption, for evidence of drug addiction, domestic violence, and political corruption.

Reformers responded to such problems through individual effort and through organizations such as the United Charities of Chicago and the Chicago Relief and Aid Society. Search on charity and relief for images reflecting the variety of ways in which people lent a hand, from a volunteer making a hospital visit to an actress and judge lending their notoriety to a charity.

  • What were some of the ways that individuals sought to make a difference in other people's lives?
  • What kinds of services and activities did charity and relief organizations provide?
  • What was necessary to keep these organizations going?

One of the most acute problems in American cities was poverty. Search on poor for images that illustrate the efforts of individuals and organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Illinois Poorhouse Farm, and the Oak Forest Infirmary to ameliorate the trials of poverty. Do related searches on homeless and welfare for more photographs.

  • What were the needs of Chicago's poor?
  • What kinds of services were available to them?
  • Where and how were these services provided?
  • How helpful do think that these services were?

Photographs documenting social services reveal that special consideration was given to the needs of children. Search on child welfare for images reflecting the services provided especially for children, from clothing and health care to recreational and educational opportunities. The Chicago Daily News, known for its social service activities, sponsored the Fresh Air Fund, which allowed children to enjoy outings and attend summer camp. The newspaper also supported a Fresh-Air Fund Sanitarium for children. Search on Fresh Air Fund for pertinent photographs.

  • What services were available for children?
  • Why do you think that children received special attention from individuals and organizations in the social services?
  • How do social services for children today compare with those of the Progressive Era?

Individual Chicagoans also took an active role as benefactors. Mary Bartelme, the first woman elected judge in Illinois, served on the juvenile court and was noted for dedicating her life to helping underprivileged girls. Jane Addams and Ellen Starr started a kindergarten at Hull House, where they also provided a club for teenage boys and cooking and sewing lessons for girls. Hull House also served as an art gallery and studio and facilitated lectures and events for the largely immigrant population in the surrounding neighborhood. Search on Mary Bartelme, Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, and Hull House for images.

  • What do you think motivated individuals such as Mary Bartelme, Jane Addams, and Ellen Starr to do social service work?

Finally, many social service organizations were established to promote better health and hygiene. Search on health and hygiene for images reflecting such efforts. During the influenza epidemic of 1918, Chicago's Health Commissioner urged newspapers to educate the public about how to stay healthy. The Chicago Daily News prepared photographs of Red Cross nurses making gauze masks and of people wearing masks in their daily work.

  • Why would the owners of a newspaper feel impelled to sponsor social services through their business?

Prohibition

Some of the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century reformers believed that most of the social ills plaguing American cities stemmed from the consumption of alcohol. They thought that if Americans would abstain from drinking, it would reduce crime and corruption, improve health, hygiene, and domestic tranquility, and empty the prisons and poorhouses, thereby relieving Americans of the tax burden of maintaining these institutions.

Such reformers formed temperance organizations to work together towards ending Americans' consumption of alcohol. Search on temperance for images pertaining to organizations such as the Dry Chicago Federation, the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League, which led the campaign for a national prohibition of alcohol through a constitutional amendment.

  • In what ways did temperance organizations attempt to forward their cause?
  • How realistic do you find the idea that controlling or eliminating alcohol consumption can cure a host of societal ills?

Congress passed just such an amendment in January, 1918. The 18th Amendment took effect a year later, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Some historians contend, however, that prohibition only created a greater demand and even supply of alcohol. There was a great profit to be made in providing a forbidden product so people built their own stills and created networks of transportation and distribution through speakeasies. Chicago's most notorious gangster, Al "Scarface" Capone, built an empire from the sale of prohibited liquor despite the efforts of the Chicago police in raiding warehouses and speakeasies and destroying contraband liquor. Search on prohibition for more images.

Gangsters in Chicago, as in other large cities, not only violated prohibition laws but also hijacked one another's liquor shipments and gunned down rivals, often in bold daylight massacres. The most notorious mob confrontation occurred in Chicago in 1929 on St. Valentine's Day. Al Capone's gang, disguised as policemen, murdered members of the George "Bugs" Moran gang in a Chicago garage on North Clark Street. Search on gang and gangster for images related to the massacre and other gang-related incidents, as well as photographs of Capone, Moran, and others.

  • What kinds of events provided Chicago Daily News photographers with opportunities to photograph gangsters?
  • What do the photographs suggest about the roles and reputations of gangsters in Chicago?
  • To what extent did national prohibition stimulate gang activity?

Crime bosses like Capone, along with bootleggers, and owners of speakeasies often kept their illicit businesses going through bribery. Everyone from prominent politicians to cops on the street took cuts in the profits made from trafficking alcohol during prohibition. In Chicago, thousands of police and other officials were on the take, some of them getting over $1,000 a week. Search on bribery and corruption for images related to the graft, or bribery, cases that monopolized Chicago's courtrooms.

By 1931, Commissioner of Prohibition, Henry Anderson, was willing to admit:

"...the fruitless efforts at enforcement are creating public disregard not only for this law but for all laws. Public corruption through the purchase of official protection for this illegal traffic is widespread and notorious. The courts are cluttered with prohibition cases to an extent which seriously affects the entire administration of justice."

From Page 90, National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, Enforcement of the Prohibition Laws of the United States.

Two years later the 18th Amendment was repealed.

  • What was prohibition intended to accomplish and how?
  • What were the actual consequences of prohibition?
  • Why do you think that prohibition failed?

Women's Suffrage

The women's suffrage movement had strong roots in Chicago. Grace Wilbur Trout, president of the Chicago Political Equality League, was a major force in the suffrage movement. Under her direction, the League organized programs to increase membership and lobby public officials to support a woman's right to vote. Search on suffrage and votes for women for images reflecting the ways in which suffragettes promoted their cause, from participating in political groups to organizing auto tours, first introduced by Trout.

  • What can you learn from these photographs about the efforts that suffragists made to further their cause?

Jane Addams, Chicago's premier reformer, was also a prominent figure in the women's suffrage movement. Addams and Elizabeth Burke of the University of Chicago served as delegates to the Women's Suffrage Legislature in 1911. British suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst, offered support to the women of Illinois during a visit to Chicago in 1913. Search on Jane Addams and Emmeline Pankhurst for images of these suffragist leaders.

  • When did the women of Britain gain the right to vote?

Due to the intensive efforts of Illinois suffragettes, under the direction of Grace Trout, the Illinois state legislature granted women the right to vote in 1913. Illinois thus became the first state east of the Mississippi to grant women suffrage. Search on 1915 mayoral primary for images related to Chicago's first mayoral election in which women were allowed to vote.

With the encouragement of a local victory, the women of Chicago, like those of other cities across the nation, organized parades to arouse public support for total suffrage through a constitutional amendment. An estimated 5,000 people marched in parade down Chicago's Michigan Avenue during the 1916 Republican National Convention to pressure Republican support for such an amendment. Demonstrations during the convention were largely responsible for presidential candidate, Charles Evans Hughes, changing his position and supporting passage of a women's suffrage amendment.

In 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Later, Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, proposed disbanding the organization and called for the establishment of the League of Women Voters at a hotel in Chicago in 1920. Today, the League of Women Voters is still active in promoting voting rights and civic education programs throughout the nation.

  • Why might the women's suffrage movement have had such strong roots and activity in Chicago?
  • In what ways did the women's suffrage movement use the political system to work for change?
  • How effective were these efforts?

Sports in the Progressive Era

Over 20,000 images in this collection are of sports and sporting events, reflecting the increased organization and popularity of sports during the Progressive Era. No sport was as popular as baseball, which had won the title of national pastime by 1911, when old-time baseball player and administrator, Albert Spalding, wrote:

"I claim that Base Ball owes its prestige as our National Game to the fact that as no other form of sport it is the exponent of American Courage, Confidence, Combativeness; American Dash, Discipline, Determination; American Energy, Eagerness, Enthusiasm; American Pluck, Persistency, Performance; American Spirit, Sagacity, Success; American Vim, Vigor, Virility.

Base Ball is the American Game par excellence because its playing demands Brain and Brawn, and American manhood supplies these ingredients in quantity sufficient to spread over the entire continent."

From America's National Game, by Albert Spalding, 1911.

Search on baseball for images of players and ball fields, including Chicago's famous Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox, and Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Players caught in black and white include such greats as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

  • Do you agree with Albert Spalding's assessment of why baseball has the claim to the title of national game?
  • What is the relationship between sports and national identity?
  • What is the relationship between sports and a nation's cultural mores?
  • How do photographs of Ruth and Gehrig differ from photographs of other players?

Although football was becoming a popular sport in the first decade of the twentieth century, there were so few teams that university squads often played against high school teams. Refer to the Special Presentation of Topics to Explore to learn more about the history of football. Search on football for photographs of over 2,000 players.

Basketball was invented in 1891 as a way to Christianize young men. Search on basketball to see how the fledgling game developed over the next few decades. There are a number of pictures of other sports, including track and field, swimming, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, Lacrosse, polo, and rowing. Search by sport.

  • Why might sports have become more organized during the Progressive Era?
  • Why might they have become more popular at this time?
  • How do you think that sports impacted America's cult of celebrity?
  • How did the cult of celebrity impact sports?
  • Why do you think that basketball was used to shape the character of young men?

A group photograph of the 1911 Negro National League's Chicago American Giants reveals the practice of segregation in sports during the Progressive Era. However, photographs documenting the existence of inter-racial teams as early as 1903 reflect the growing change that made way for Jackie Robinson's acceptance into the major league in 1947. Use the Subject Index headings beginning with African American to view numerous pictures of other African-American athletes.

While African Americans were considered unsuitable for playing sports with caucasians, women were considered unsuitable for playing any sports at all — it was thought that they breathed differently from men. Aside from any physical limitation, women were discouraged from playing sports as late as the 1920s, due to the fear that competition would make them less feminine.

At the same time, however, efforts to promote health through physical education led to women participating in more sports, beginning with non-competitive activities such as synchronized swimming, but eventually including tennis, baseball, basketball, and even football. Use the Subject Index headings beginning with Women, such as Women athletes and Women basketball players, to view photographs that reflect the growing presence and achievement of women in sports.

  • How do photographs of female athletes compare to photographs of male athletes? What might account for any differences?
  • What was the relationship between sports and social equality during the Progressive Era?

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Critical Thinking

Chronological Thinking

One of the most obvious manifestations of change in this collection of photographs is the change in transportation technology. The collection's Special Presentation of Topics to Explore includes a section on Horse Power for Transportation. It explains and illustrates the changes in transportation on the streets of Chicago during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Read this Special Presentation and answer the following questions to examine change over time.

  • What forms of transportation could be found on the city streets of Chicago during the first three decades of the twentieth century?
  • Which forms of transportation dominated in the early and latter part of this period?
  • Why did horses continue to be used even after the advent of trucks and automobiles?
  • Why did people begin to use trucks and automobiles instead of horses?
  • Can you estimate the dates of photographs based on the transportation documented in them?

While the streets of Chicago bustled with a mixture of horse-drawn buggies and gasoline powered automobiles, the skies over Illinois prairies were visited by balloon-powered airships and propeller airplanes. The three decades following the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903 saw innovations and daring that culminated in Charles A. Lindbergh's historical flight of the Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic in 1927.

Search on airship and airplane for over 500 images that document the evolution of aviation technology in the early twentieth century. Research the exploits of early pilots such as Walter Brookins, who in July, 1910, became the first person to pilot an airplane to an altitude of one mile, Charles F. Williard, who made the first flight over Los Angeles five months later, and Charles A. Lindbergh, who made the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Begin by searching on their names in this collection.

  • What do these photographs indicate about how early airships got off the ground?
  • What changes are apparent in airplanes of later years?
  • What role did feats performed by pilots such as Brookins, Williard, and Lindbergh play in the evolution of aviation technology?
  • How would you expect World War I to have impacted the evolution of aviation technology?

Historical Comprehension: Immigration and Diversity

In 1803, the U.S. government built a fort at the confluence of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Native Americans called the area "Checaugou" after the wild garlic or onions growing there. A tiny frontier settlement developed around the fort and in 1837, the city of Chicago was incorporated with about 4,000 residents.

The population grew by leaps and bounds over the next decades, becoming the second largest American city by 1890 with a population of over one million. Many of the people who came to Chicago during this period had been living in other parts of the United States, but a large and unprecedented number of them came from abroad. In 1870, 48 percent of Chicagoans had been born in another country, most often Germany and Ireland.

Search on ethnic for 26 photographs that provide a sampling of the different ethnicities represented in Chicago's population in the early-twentieth century. Identify as many of these ethnicities as possible and search the collection on words such as Norwegian, Chinese, and Russian, for more images. Search on ethnicities that are not represented in these 26 photographs as well.

  • What kinds of organizations and institutions were developed around ethnic identities?
  • What can you tell from these photographs about how members of ethnic communities maintained a sense of identity?
  • Do the photographs provide any clues about the degree to which foreign immigrants identified themselves as Americans?
  • What sorts of challenges would immigrants to a big city like Chicago have faced?
  • In what ways did Chicago's ethnic diversity impact its history and character?

To learn more, read Upton Sinclair's portrayal of the Chicago immigration experience in The Jungle, or refer to the Teacher Page Presentation, Immigration.

Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Search on Alton B. Parker for a series of 61 photographs taken to illustrate the life of the 1904 Democratic presidential candidate in his home town of Esopus, New York. Parker ran against President Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican incumbent from Oyster Bay of New York's affluent Long Island.

  • Why would Parker or members of his campaign staff have wanted to take photographs of the presidential candidate in his home town of Esopus?
  • What kind of impression do you get of Esopus from these photographs?
  • How might knowing that Parker was from this town impact your impression of him?
  • Who appears with Parker in these photographs?
  • How does Parker's association with these people reflect upon the candidate?
  • In what kinds of places and activities, is Parker portrayed?
  • How do these places and activities reflect upon the candidate?
  • What is your impression of Parker's house?
  • How does this impact your impression of the presidential candidate?

Assume the role of Parker's campaign manager and select twelve of these photographs to portray an image of the candidate that will appeal to the public and help him win the election.

  • What are your goals in portraying your candidate through photographs?
  • What messages do you want to send the public through these photographs?
  • Which images best convey these messages and why?
  • How effective are photographs in influencing the public's perception of a presidential candidate?

Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision-Making: The Pullman Strike

In 1893, an economic recession forced George Pullman's Palace Car Company to cut back on its manufacture of railroad cars. Pullman also cut his hourly employees' wages by an average of 25 percent, though management's wages stayed the same. Pullman employees lived in a company town of the same name, just outside of Chicago. As residents of this town, they paid their rent to the Pullman Company, which refused to lower the rent even while it slashed wages. Search on Pullman for photographs of the company's factory and town.

In the Spring of 1894, Pullman employees joined the American Railroad Union (ARU) and organized a committee that lobbied Pullman management for increased wages or decreased rent. The company made neither concession but fired three of the employees who had served on the committee. The next day, the Pullman workers voted to go on strike.

Though the strike began on May 11, by mid-June, the Pullman Company still refused to receive communication from the ARU or to meet with arbitrators. The ARU stepped up its pressure by refusing to run trains carrying Pullman cars until the company agreed to arbitration. Although the Union's boycott badly interrupted American transportation, putting significant pressure on the Pullman Company, it responded only by firing the striking railroad workers.

The pressure was not to be ignored, however, and the Pullman and other railroad companies asked Illinois Governor John P. Altgeld to put a stop to the strike. When he refused to interfere, the railroad companies appealed to President Grover Cleveland. On the grounds that the strike was interfering with the U.S. mail, (railroad companies were deliberately attaching Pullman cars to mail trains) the president appointed a committee to deal with the situation.

The committee sent in 4,000 strikebreakers carrying badges and guns. When enraged workers throughout the Chicagoland area began attacking trains, the committee sent in 12,000 federal troops, about half the U.S. Army. Sent ostensibly to restore order, the troops also broke the strike.

Chicago's Mayor and Governor Altgeld were incensed against Cleveland for putting federal troops under the command of the railroad companies. The dispute resulted in Cleveland's loss of his bid for re-nomination by the Democratic Party two years later. Meanwhile, ARU president, Eugene V. Debs, and other labor leaders were sent to jail, while the Pullman Company rehired only those employees who signed a contract promising to never join a union while employed at Pullman.

Search on strike for over 300 images documenting the many labor strikes that took place in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

  • What do these photographs reveal about the mood of the labor movement in the Chicagoland area during the early-twentieth century?
  • What did workers hope to achieve by striking and how?
  • What if any other options did workers have for obtaining better wages and working conditions?
  • Why do you think that Governor Altgeld refused to send in troops to break the Pullman strike?
  • What options did President Cleveland have for responding to the requests of the railroad companies?
  • What reactions do you think that President Cleveland and his committee could have expected from their decision to send in 4,000 armed strikebreakers?
  • How do you think the Pullman strike would have ended if President Cleveland had refused to break the strike as Altgeld had?
  • Why do you think that President Cleveland's handling of the Pullman strike cost him the re-nomination by the Democratic Party?

Historical Research Capabilities

This collection provides researchers with a wealth of raw material in the form of photographs that can be used to enhance the study of social and political history during the Progressive Era. Although the overwhelming majority of the photographs focus on Chicago and its environs, they reflect virtually all aspects of life in the first generation of the twentieth century and, as such, mirror the nation at large.

Specific topics that may be researched in this collection include the Eastland disaster, the Chicago race riots of 1919, and the famous trial of Leopold and Loeb.

On July 24, 1915, thousands of employees and their families gathered along the Chicago River for the Western Electric's annual picnic. Families boarded the S.S. Eastland to cross Lake Michigan for the picnic and festivities to be held in Michigan City, Indiana. Over 800 people, including 22 entire families, lost their lives when the Eastland rolled over at the wharf in the Chicago River. Search on Eastland for over 100 photographs of the Eastland disaster.

Search on Chicago race riot for photographs following the riots of what James Weldon Johnson called "The Red Summer" of 1919. Images document heightened security and the destruction of property left in the wake of the riot, which lasted from July 27 to August 8. The noted American poet Carl Sandburg, on the staff of the Daily News during riot, reported on the uprising in a front page article published in the July 28 issue of the newspaper.

Continue your research outside of the collection to learn more about the causes of the riot.

  • What were the long term causes of the Chicago race riot?
  • What were the immediate causes of the riot?

Search on Leopold and Loeb for photographs relating to the "trial of the century," in which two extremely bright but mislead scholars, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, were sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and murdering the 14 year-old son of a prominent Chicago family. Photographs include an image of the ransom letter in the murder case, police photographs of the defendants, and a portrait of defense attorney Clarence Darrow, who gave a heroic, twelve-hour summation against the death penalty.

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Arts & Humanities

Architecture: The Chicago School

In 1871, a fire blazed through the city of Chicago for three days, killing 300 people, destroying 18,000 buildings and leaving 90,000 Chicagoans homeless. Search on fire of 1871 for several relevant items. In a few years, an energized rebuilding effort was under way. It drew architects from around the world and resulted in a new kind of architecture that came to be known as the "Chicago School."

Championed by architects such as Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and the team of William Holabird and Martin Roche, the Chicago School cast aside Greek and Roman models in favor of simplicity and function. The result was the invention of the modern skyscraper. In adherence to Louis Sullivan's mandate that form should follow function, the Chicago School architects adorned their buildings' facades sparingly, with vertical and horizontal lines and geometric shapes.

Search on Louis Sullivan for images that capture his Stock Exchange building and Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Search on Carson Pirie Scott for an image of the first department store to have an entirely steel frame. The metal work adorning its entrance was done by Sullivan.

A search on Daniel Burnham provides only one image, of an architectural model. But photographs of his department store are found by searching on Marshall Field and Co.

Search on Holabird and Roche for several architectural plans drawn up by this team that left its mark on Chicago during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Search on new County Building, also known as the new City Hall, for an example of their work.

Search on the names of other buildings of the era, including the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, and new Board of Trade Building. Search on loop, as well as street names such as State, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Washington, Dearborn, and Michigan Avenue for more views of the cityscape that emerged during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

  • How would you characterize the architecture of the Chicago School?
  • How did the work of the Chicago School differ from the urban architecture that preceded it?
  • In what ways do these buildings illustrate the idea of form following function?
  • What was the legacy of the Chicago School?

Public Art

Chicago is known for its many parks and commemorative statues. Search on park, statue, sculpture, monument, and memorial for hundreds of examples.

Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the statue of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. created the Statue of the Republic in Chicago to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the World's Fair Columbian Exposition. The statue, which was erected in Jackson Park, is a smaller reproduction of his original colossal sculpture made for the 1893 World's Fair.

The renowned sculptor August Saint-Gaudens created two Lincoln statues for Chicago, Lincoln, the Head of State in Grant Park and the Standing Lincoln in Lincoln Park. The Fort Dearborn Massacre monument by Carl Rohl-Smith is among the many other public sculptures in Chicago.

Do research outside of the collection to discover if and how Chicagoans continued to populate their city with public monuments and sculptures.

  • What are the purposes of public parks?
  • What are the purposes of public monuments?
  • What do Chicago's public monuments suggest about the events and people that played important roles in the city's history?
  • What do these monuments suggest about Chicagoans' sense of identity?
  • How do public monuments impact a society's understanding of history?
  • Have the purposes and significance of public parks, sculptures, and monuments changed over time? If so, how?

The Jungle

Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, illustrates the plight of immigrant workers in Chicago. Published in 1906, it also exposed the problems in the meat packing industry, helping to pass the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act the same year.

Photographs in this collection help readers of The Jungle to imagine what it would have been like to have been an immigrant and a laborer in Chicago in the first decade of the twentieth century. These images also reinforce the fact that Sinclair based his novel on contemporary realities and help to show how literature can reflect history.

The Jungle tells the story of the Rudkus family who came from Lithuania to find greater prosperity in the United States. Although a search on Lithuanian provides only one image, searches on other European nationalities, such as Polish, German, and Scandinavian, provide evidence that many immigrants like the Rudkus family came to Chicago in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Compare images reflecting ethnic traditions to Sinclair's description of the wedding with which he opens his novel.

  • What does Sinclair's depiction of the wedding suggest about the role of ethnic traditions in the lives of immigrants?
  • What do the photographs suggest about the significance of ethnic traditions?

Sinclair explains that Jurgis, the head of the Rudkus family, came to Chicago from the Lithuanian countryside. Like many immigrants to the United States, he had never seen a city before. Search on loop for images of one of the largest cities in the United States. Imagine what it would have been like to move from a rural home in Europe to a city like Chicago. Compare images of Chicago to Sinclair's account of the Rudkuses' arrival in the metropolis:

"...they stood staring down the vista of Dearborn Street, with its big black buildings towering in the distance, unable to realize that they had arrived, and why, when they said 'Chicago' people no longer pointed in some direction, but instead looked perplexed, or laughed, or went on without paying any attention. They were pitiable in their helplessness . . . For the whole of the first day they wandered about in the midst of deafening confusion, utterly lost; and it was only at night that, cowering in the doorway of a house, they were finally discovered and taken by a pliceman to the station. In the morning an interpreter was found, and they were taken and put upon a car, and taught a new word " 'stockyards.'"

From The Jungle.

The Jungle is perhaps best known for its descriptions of the Chicago stockyards. Search on stockyards for over 200 images, including documentation of the 1904 stockyards strike. Search on strike for more images that provide a context for Sinclair's depiction of the plight of laborers like Jurgis Rudkus.

  • In The Jungle, what is the symbolic meaning of the hogs and cattle slaughtered in the stockyards?
  • Do the photographs in this collection support Sinclair's symbolic message?

Formulate search terms to see if the collection includes images that compliment Sinclair's descriptions of immigrants' living conditions, of the bitter cold of a Chicago winter, or of saloons, alcoholism, and prostitution.

  • According to his novel, why did Sinclair think that socialism was the way to solve the social problems of the early-twentieth century?
  • What do the photographs in this collection suggest about how well Sinclair understood these problems?
  • Based on your viewing of the collection's photographs, how authentic do you find Sinclair's depiction?
  • Why do you think that The Jungle made such a large impact for social change?

Creative Writing: Descriptive Journalism

In a time before television, radio, and the internet, newspapers provided the main source of information about current events. A photograph from 1904 shows Chicagoans gathered in front of the Chicago Daily News building reading the latest news as it came off the press.

Pictures taken by Chicago Daily News photographers document the important events of their day and provide starting points for practicing descriptive writing. Use the following suggestions or browse the collection for photographs of major events. Examine the photographs and use imagination or research to write a descriptive account of one of these events as if you were a reporter for a newspaper.

1) Photographers documented the crowds that gathered at the funerals of Tony Lombardo, a reputed gangster, and William H. McSwiggin, an attorney said to have been killed by Al Capone. Search on gangster funeral for several images.

2) On July 24, 1915, over 800 people, including 22 entire families, died when the S.S. Eastland rolled over at the wharf in the Chicago River. Search on Eastland for over 100 photographs of the Eastland disaster and rescue efforts.

3) On Labor Day, 1915, sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, Governor Edward F. Dunne, and William Jennings Bryan were among those gathered to dedicate a monument of former Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld. Search on Governor Altgeld for several images of the monument and its dedication.

4) Daily News photographers also documented soldiers preparing to leave for training or for service in Texas and abroad. Search on soldiers preparing for a variety of images.

  • When and where did the event you are reporting on take place?
  • What went on at this event?
  • Who was present at the event and why?
  • What was the mood of the people present?
  • What is the ultimate significance of this event to the city of Chicago?

Persuasive and Expository Writing

The photographs in this collection put human faces on issues that could otherwise remain theoretical and abstract. The labor unrest and urban poverty of the early-twentieth century are both brought to life through the Chicago Daily News photographs. Allow these images to inform your understanding of these topics and then express your understanding through writing.

Search on stockyards strike or Bloomington Normal for documentation of labor strikes in the early 1900s. Based on your understanding of labor unrest in the early-twentieth century, write an editorial expressing views either favoring or opposing one of these strikes.

Search on unemployed, homeless, and hobos for images reflecting the experience of the poor and unemployed. Write an expository essay on the plight of the urban poor during the early-twentieth century.

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