Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day from the IDHH. We’re a little late on celebrating mothers, but still feel like a tribute should be made. Shelter-in-place has been particularly difficult, and we’re hoping that the distance between you and your loved ones is either not-far, or easily traversed. 

Mother and Daughter Performers on Menage Horses. 1950. Passion for Circus. Photographer, Sverre O. Braathen. Used with permission from Illinois State University’s Special Collections, Milner Library.

To celebrate Mother’s Day we’re highlighting photographs of families of performers, especially mother-daughter performers from Illinois State University’s Passion for Circus Collection.  The photographs come from a collection of nearly 10,000 spanning from the 1930’s to the 1950’s from circus across the United States.

Performer and Employee with Parent. 1950. Passion for Circus. Photographer, Sverre O. Braathen. Used with permission from Illinois State University’s Special Collections, Milner Library.

Below is just a small selection of performers and their families, mostly mother-daughter aerial and acrobatics acts, but also performers with their spectator, non-circus parents.

Mother and Daughter Circus Performers. 1949. Passion for Circus. Used with permission from Illinois State University’s Special Collections, Milner Library.
Performer with Parent. 1951.Passion for Circus. Photographer, Sverre O. Braathen. Used with permission from Illinois State University’s Special Collections, Milner Library.
Performers in Wardrobe. 1936.Passion for Circus. Used with permission from Illinois State University’s Special Collections, Milner Library.
Aerialists in Wardrobe. 1945. Passion for Circus. Photographer, Sverre O. Braathen. Used with permission from Illinois State University’s Special Collections, Milner Library.
Mother and Daughter Production Girls. 1944.Passion for Circus. Photographer, Sverre O. Braathen. Used with permission from Illinois State University’s Special Collections, Milner Library.


For the full collection you can visit Illinois State University’s Milner Library webpage, or browse on the IDHH.

Nurses at the Graham Hospital School of Nursing

Graham Hospital School of Nursing students. 1946. Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library. Images from the Past. Permission to display given by Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library.

 Reports from across the country describe the effort of nurses as they continue to care for patients sick with Covid-19 and put themselves at risk. Thousands of nurses have themselves been infected with the virus Covid-19 during the pandemic while caring for patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
The Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library collections is the only collection in the IDHH dedicated entirely to nursing and nurse education. It contains 2,000 images and interviews from nurses who trained at the Graham Hospital School of Nursing in the 20th century, as well as images of and information about Graham Hospital, the history of medicine and the Graham Hospital and Canton Illinois community, as well as nursing and nursing education. Below are a few images. Thanks to nurses in Illinois and across the country.

Graham Hospital School of Nursing Student Delivering Flowers. 1951. Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library. Images from the Past. Permission to display given by Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library.
Graham Hospital School of Nursing Students Scrubbing. 1963.Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library. Images from the Past. Permission to display given by Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library.
Graham Hospital School of Nursing Students in Classroom. 1947. Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library. Images from the Past. Permission to display given by Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library.
Graham Hospital School of Nursing student with patient. 1945. Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library. Images from the Past. Permission to display given by Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library.

I hope that all the reader’s of the Highlights blog and everyone surfing the IDHH and DPLA are safe. For everything from the Graham Hospital School of Nursing Library on the IDHH click here, or for more on nursing from the rest of our contributors, click here

ON THIS DAY: Harold Washington’s Inauguration

On this day in 1983 Harold Washington was inaugurated the 51st mayor of Chicago. Washington was the first African American to be elected the Mayor of Chicago, and served until his death in November 1987. The Chicago History Museum Prints and Photographs Collection includes photographs from photographers and photojournalists from the 20th century through the present. The photographs in the collection capture both historic events in Chicago and the nation’s history, to everyday life in the neighborhoods. We chose these pictures taken by Richard Gordon, who covered the 1983 Mayoral Race from nearly every angle, with an especially keen focus on Harold Washington. 

Harold Washington Shaking Hands with Two Women on Lasalle Street. 1983. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Photograph by Richard Gordon. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

The story of Washington’s election has been told numerous times, as a victory in the history of Chicago and Black History, and as a restorative moment in black leadership in electoral politics.  After serving in the Illinois House and Senate for 15 years Washington cast a bid in the 1977 special election against Mayor Daley’s successor Mayor Bilandic. 

His platform was progressive even by today’s standards. He resolved to work against the democratic party machine where career politicians had capitalized on their political stature and created public programs to ensure affordable rent and more control for public housing, a civilian oversight board to screen and investigate complaints about Chicago Police conduct, and stimulus to the Chicago Transit Authority which was consistently losing ridership. 

After losing the 1977 mayoral primaries to Jane Byrne, Washington was elected to represent the Illinois 1st Congressional District in Congress.

Jane Byrne at a campaign event during the Democratic mayoral primary race.1983. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Photograph by Richard Gordon. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

Running for mayor would be a loss in political stature and relative comfort. Washington did not run in 1983 on his own volition. When approached by community organizers to run for mayor, he agreed to run if they registered 50,000 new black voters. They responded by registering 100,000 new voters.

Richard M. Daley campaigning for election.1983. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Photograph by Richard Gordon. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

His campaign faced incredible and open racism at the hands of the city council that provoked the unexpected crossing of party lines in deeply blue Chicago. “ It would be the worst day in the history of Chicago if your candidate was not elected. It’s a racial thing, don’t kid yourself. I’m calling on you to save your city, to save your precinct. We’re fighting to keep the city the way it is.” Alderman and Chairman of the Cook County Democratic party Edward Vrdolyak said during a get out the vote rally ahead of the Democaratic Primary Election. The rally was supposed to be for mayor Jane Byrne’s reelection, a chance to give her a boost in the primary elections above Washington and Daley– but with this outburst, the racist spirit of the rally was clear.  Even after winning the primary, many of Chicago’s democratic aldermen, including Vrdolyak, put their support behind Washington’s Republican opponent, Bernard Epton.

Democratic supporters for Republican mayoral candidate Bernard Epton riding in a campaign vehicle. 1983. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Photograph by Richard Gordon. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

Even after the election, this confederation of aldermen created a hostile political situation that would continue through Mayor Washington’s tenure, effectively limiting Mayor Washington’s impact.

Harold Washington and supporters walking down stairs. 1983. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Photograph by Richard Gordon. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

Washington’s charisma comes through in many of the photographs Gordon took of him. But this photo of Muhammad Ali, campaigning for Washington is particularly special. In a moment of Chicago’s politics known for the alliances known as the “Political Machine” the faces of the anti-machine were powerful in garnering attention and trust.

Muhammed Ali campaigning for Harold Washington.1983. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Photograph by Richard Gordon. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

Introducing the Pantagraph Negative Collections

Alfalfa Show. 1937. McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1930-1939). Photograph by Olin Piercy. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.

Now included in the IDHH are two collections from the McLean County Museum of History. The Pantagraph Negative Collection 1930-1939 and 1940-1945 include roughly 48,000 scanned negatives from the Pantagraph, a newspaper headquartered in Bloomington. The collections include scans of negatives created by photographer-reporters between 1932 and 1945. The Pantagraph’s origins date back to 1846 and was known for its coverage of regional agricultural concerns, local sports, and community social events in 10 counties surrounding McLean County.  

Family Circle (Pantagraph In House News).1938. McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1930-1939). Photograph by Charles A. Mercier. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.

The collection, donated to Mclean County Museum of History by the Pantagraph, preserves vivid images of the early and mid 20th century, including the rise of industrial agriculture and the Great Depression in Central Illinois. Here’s a few of the gems from their collection: 

YWCA Swim Meet. 1938. McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1930-1939). Photograph by John S. Bowman. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.
Cornhusking Contests. 1938. McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1930-1939). Photograph by Frank Bill. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.
Danvers, IL pet squirrel. 1940. McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1940-1945). Photograph by Harlan Stranger. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.
Along the Road, Chenoa. 1941. McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1940-1945). Photograph by Glenn Steeleye. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.
Boxing, Moline vs. Bloomington, Illinois. 1938.McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1930-1939). Photograph by Percy Olin. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.
Fifth Columnists. 1942. McLean County Museum of History. Pantagraph Negative Collection (1940-1945). Photograph by Ralph O. Baird Jr. Permission to display given by McLean County Museum of History.

For more of these two collections, visit the IDHH.

Women’s History Month: Mary Salome Ott Brand

Happy Women’s History Month. At the IDHH, we’d like to introduce Mary Salome Ott Brand –a childhood immigrant from France and an early settler of the North Shore of Chicago who cast her first ballot to vote at the age of 91. 

In 1913, Illinois became the first state in the nation to grant women the right to the presidential vote. Women’s suffrage had slowly evolved since the 15th amendment in 1870 leading to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The right to vote was won in large part by the organizing and lobbying of woman’s clubs in communities across the nation. The diversity of materials in Highland Park Public Library’s Highland Park History Collection shows different elements of women’s history, both at the collective and political while also in the lives of individuals. The collections include women’s club minutes, photographs, and biographies constructed of newspaper clippings and stories transcribed by local historians and family members.

On Election Day 1916, Mary Salome Ott Brand left her house on N. Second Street in Highland Park to vote for the first time. At 91, she was accompanied by her son Orson, who documented his mother’s first time to the polls. 


Mary Salome Ott Brand, 1825-1921. 1916. Highland Park Public Library. Highland Park History. Photograph by Orson Brand. Permission to display granted by Highland Park Public Library.

Grandma Brand, Age 91. 1916. Highland Park Public Library. Highland Park History. Photograph by Orson Brand. Permission to display granted by Highland Park Public Library. 

The fight for women to vote had been long fought. With Suffragette figures such as Susan B. Anthony well known, the struggle to vote was also fought by women in local communities through woman’s clubs and federations of woman’s clubs. Women in Lake County had been active in the conversation and activism of women’s right to vote. In 1916, The Woman’s Civic Club  –later renamed the Ravina Women’s Club joined forces and merged with the Highland Park Woman’s club in in the 1960s –wrote they were “in favor of full suffrage for the women of Illinois as speedily as possible, therefore favor the adoption of an amendment to the constitution to that end” –meaning presidential suffrage –that would eventually become the 19th ammendment. Highland Park Public Library has several collections from Highland Park area womans’ clubs dating back to the early 20th century, including the Ravina Woman’s Club Records and Highland Park Woman’s Club Records.

Living in the North Shore during the civil war, the great migration, the fight for unions, and the fight for women’s vote, Brand’s life was certainly impacted by the changing political landscape and political awareness. The right to vote, at 91, was certainly reason enough to document.

Here is Brand at the polls.

Grandma Brand, Age 91. 1916. Highland Park Public Library. Highland Park History. Photograph by Orson Brand. Permission to display granted by Highland Park Public Library.

In the obituaries that were included in Ms. Brand’s biographical file- along with stories she told a local historian, they universally describe Brand as a life-long resident of Lake County –which she was, after moving there. Photographs of her home continue to document  what life in Lake County was like in the earliest part of the 20th century. For example, this picture taken by George D. Rice –another local documentarian I mentioned in a post in January.


Mary Salome Ott Brand and Children in Front of a House. n.d. Highland Park History. Photograph by George D. Rice. Permission to display granted by Highland Park Public Library.

Compared with her stories of the prairie as it was in the 1840s-60s, the rapid change from prairie to the north Chicago suburbs is immediately apparent.The Highland Park History Collection is definitely unique among the collections within the IDHH  for having so many different forms of historical documentation. Meeting minutes, written local histories, and, of course, photographs build a well-rounded picture of subjects at the micro-local. The biographical files created by local historians in Highland Park and more broadly Lake County cover the lives of women during the early 20th century.  Here is Mary Salome Ott Brand’s assembled biography.


Biography of Mary Salome Ott Brand. C.1925.Highland Park Public Library. Highland Park History.  Permission to display granted by Highland Park Public Library.

Lastly, here’s a picture of her and her son together: 


Orson Brand and His Mother, Mary Salome Ott Brand. 1916. Highland Park Public Library. Highland Park History. Photograph by Orson Brand. Permission to display granted by Highland Park Public Library. 

For more of any of these kinds of documents please visit the IDHH. The papers of women’s social and political organizations are linked above, but here are more of the local biographies created by historians and more photographs by Orson Brand. 

March 15th 1959: The Photography of Irene Gillette

61 years ago yesterday, it snowed 25.5 inches in Galena Illinois. Irene Gillette set out with her camera to document the snowfall and show its impact on the streets of Galena.

The Galena Public Library District’s Galena Area Historic Photos Collection includes 1,100 photos of Galena from the late-19th to mid-20th centuries. Of the photos in the IDHH, 370 of them are Gillette’s photos of the everyday. From cocker-spaniels laying in the grass, and self portraits with quippy captions written on the reverse, Gillette’s attention to her surroundings seems to come from an intense familiarity with them, where mapping her town is less the point than showing its eccentricities; documenting unique and noteworthy moments, such as a historic snowfall, her photographs historicize everyday life.

Here are five photos from her walk around Galena on March 15th, 1959:

Big Snow of March 15th, 1959. Photograph by Irene Gillette. Galena Public Library District. Galena Area Historic Photos.  Permission to display was given by Galena Public Library District.
Snow on a mailbox at the intersection of Main Street and Washington Street in Galena, Ill. 1959. Photograph by Irene Gillette. Galena Public Library District. Galenea Area Historic Photos. Permission to display was given by Galena Public Library District.

Snow on Green Street Steps. 1959. Photograph by Irene Gillette.Galena Public Library District. Galene Area Historic Photos. Permission to display was given by Galena Public Library District.

Snow in the alley off HIll Street Between Main and Bench Streets. 1959. Photograph by Irene Gillette. Galena Public Library District. Galena Area Historic Photos. Permission to display was given by Galena Public Library District.

The Big Snow. 1959. Galena Public Library District. Photograph by Irene Gillette. Galena Area Historic Photos. Permission to display was given by Galena Public Library District.

The rest of the Galena Area Historic Photos can be found at this page and all of Irene Gillete’s photos in the IDHH here. She’s one of my personal favorite photographs on the IDHH site. It’s always exciting to find a new photographer in the IDHH whose work in some way creates an image about the culture of their town. The entire Galena Area Historic Photos Collection is particularly unique, containing the photography of multiple amateur community documentarians.

Mining Rescue and First Aid Champions 1930

A few months ago, we highlighted Mother Jones at Mount Olive collection. That look at coal mining was just a crack into the history of coal in Illinois.

Two Coal Miners working in a Glen Carbon Mine. C 1930.  Glen Carbon Heritage Museum via Madison Historical –Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection. Permission to display given by Madison Historical.

Coal mines and mining, since the 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster, have been progressively more regulated. Regulation, often brought forth from union organizing, has decreased the number of deaths while increasing the standard of living for miners and their families. The history of mining and miners’ unionization and regulation are intimately tied to the labor and workers’ rights movements. But what are the other lenses with which to look at mining, miners, and mining safety with? Or how can we open the borders of Illinois history and discover its connections across the region, to create a deeper history of mining communities and miners lives? If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection at the Madison Historical from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville may be a good place to start.

Outside View of Coal Mine #2 in Glen Carbon Illinois. C. 1930. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum via Madison Historical –Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection. Permission to display given by Madison Historical.

In 1911, the first Mine Rescue and First Aid Contest was held in Pittsburgh. Four Mine Rescue Teams from around the nation competed. Eight years later, again in Pittsburgh, 24 mine rescue teams and 83 first aid teams competed against one another in a series of tests and emergency situations, judged, and scored as first responders. Coal mining rescue was already developing its own scientific discourse, with manuals and books such as “Mine Fires: A Preliminary Study” and “Outline of Mine Rescue Maneuvers”, published by the United States Bureau of Mines as early as 1912. In 1910, the Illinois Mine Rescue Station Commission was at work establishing three permanent mine rescue stations in Springfield, Benton, and LaSalle, meanwhile testing U.S.-made “oxygen helmets” which were new in the Americas but were already being used and manufactured in Europe. Standards for mine rescue were published by the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1920 that describes different procedures for entering mines, for evaluating conditions, and for testing rescue tools including their portable oxygen breathing apparatuses. 

In 1930, a mine rescue team from Glen Carbon, Illinois traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to compete in the Nation Mine Rescue Competition, and did quite well, collecting accolades in mine rescue and first aid –including winning the Highest Honor in the Combination-Mine Rescue and First Aid category. 

Coal Miners Rescue Squad 1930 Louisville, KY competition Winners. 1930. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum via Madison Historical –Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection. Permission to display given by Madison Historical.
Glen Carbon Coal Miners Rescue Awards. 1930.Glen Carbon Heritage Museum via Madison Historical –Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection. Permission to display given by Madison Historical.

Glen Carbon was developed by the Madison Coal Company with the intention of turning it into a company town similar to Pullman or Granite City. Madison Coal operated four mines that remained resilient at the outbreak of the Great Depression, but struggled and gradually closed their mines as the Depression progressed. In 1932, as the demand for coal shrank to what it was at its peak– a mere 320 tons, as compared to 680 in 1918 –Mine #2, Glen Carbon’s most productive mine was closed. Perhaps because of the depression, 1930 was the last year of Coal Miners Rescue and First Aid Competition until it resumed a decade later.  
These images of the Glen Carbon Mine Rescue and First Aid teams, especially in their rescue uniforms, depict a change in mining that was fueled by advances made in rescue technology– particularly the “breathing apparatus”. The safety and safety training publications by the U.S. Bureau of Mines, created guidelines for miners and mining rescue that established a baseline notion of safety and rescue procedures relying heavily on the use of portable oxygen even before the breathing masks were widely used in the United States.

Coal Miners Rescue Squad. 1930. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum via Madison
Historical –Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection. Permission to display given by Madison Historical.
Coal Miners Rescue Squad. 1930. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum via Madison
Historical –Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection. Permission to display given by Madison Historical.

Here the champions are in their day clothes:

Caption: Coal Miners Rescue Squad from coal mine #2 out of uniform. 1930. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum via Madison Historical –Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection. Permission to display given by Madison Historical.

The IDHH has an abundance of images of mining and mining communities in Illinois, spanning the late 19th century to the 1980’s. The number of materials on mining in Illinois also shows a broad range of issues that surrounded mining including the fight for the power of the union, and other advances in mining. For more on mining from Glen Carbon and Madison Historical visit the IDHH, and to see the entire Glen Carbon Heritage Museum Photograph Collection visit Madison Historical’s website.

Black History Month at the IDHH

Happy Black History Month. As I’ve written before, so much of the work we do at the IDHH is focused on how people document history. For Black History Month, we’ve been thinking of ways that the community members can engage in the conversation of Black history, and the African American experience by visiting museums in Illinois and exploring digital resources.  We’ll have another post coming later this month that highlights a collection, but for the meantime here are a few notable collections relevant to Black history and culture available at the IDHH as well as some resources that we hope will help build context with our collections when thinking about the African American experience. 

Galesburg, the largest city in Knox County Illinois, was the first city in the nation settled as an anti-slavery society. Founded in 1837, and a known site on the underground railroad, Galesburg hosted the fifth Lincoln-Douglas Debates (written about previously here).  Even though Galesburg welcomed African Americans as early as the 1840s the struggle for equal rights played out in the city just as it did in other communities across the nation. Struggle and Progress- African Americans in Knox County, Illinois from Knox College brings together photographs, documents, manuscripts, and newspaper clippings to document the struggle for civil rights in Knox County while illustrating the culture and everyday life of African Americans in Knox County.

The Amos Kennedy Collection at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library contains work from the printmaker, paper maker, teacher, and book artist based in York, Alabama. His books, postcards, posters, and paper-based sculpture address race freedom, equality and violence. His work often includes proverbs from people of Africa alongside images, and poetry from African American poets.

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Chicago Urban League Photos gathers over 20 years of the social service, research, and advocacy organization’s history.  Founded in 1910, the Chicago Urban League’s focus has evolved from social services to speaking up for the need for employment, Black owned business, and affordable housing and equitable education. CUL’s relationship with UIC’s School of Sociology brought community studies and statistical tools to the front of the conversation in shaping public policy. 

The career of Eugene B. Redmond, the Poet Laureate of East St. Louis, started in East Saint Louis at the birth of the Black Arts Movement. As it developed over the next 30 years into a critical and poetic voice responding to life in the U.S., Redmond carefully documented and collected artifacts relating to the movement. The EBR African American Cultural Life digital collection is a selection of the 10,000 photographs, posters, and pamphlets from the Eugene B. Redmond Collection at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville’s Lovejoy Library.  The digital collection includes photographs of poetry readings, conversation with Black poets, events, and art.

Our contributors’ collections are gems in their own right.  There are so many other collections though that interrogate and contextualize Black History, that give even more life to what we have on the IDHH. Here are a few more:

The Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories project at the Library of Congress. In twenty-three interviews, recorded between 1932 and 1975, former slaves recount their stories as slaves and then as three people. They have much to say about their experience living as African Americans well into the 20th century.  Similar to Born Into Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1938, a large collection of more than 2,300 first person accounts of slavery collected as part of the Federal Writers’ Project, Voices Remember Slavery is unique and notable for the songs interviewees sang. 

The Museum of Science and Industry is celebrating the contributions of African Americans in science, technology, medicine and art. Focusing specifically on the past since 1970 “50 Years of Black Creativity” runs through the end of the month. Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum collects and displays the legacies of African Americans in Central Illinois. 

Decatur’s The African-American Cultural and Genealogical Society of  Illinois, is one of the only institutions in Illinois that specializes in African American Genealogy. A field typically challenged because of the institution of slavery and it’s violence in breaking families, which made record keeping nearly impossible.  Here’s another article on African-American Genealogy from PBS.

Celebrating the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Civil Rights Demonstration Lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Montgomery, Alabama March 17th, 1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection.Permission to display was given by Chicago History Museum.

Last year, to commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we turned to the Chicago History Museum and their Prints and Photographs Collection and highlighted Declan Haun’s photojournalism of Dr. King’s activism, including his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, the 1965 Selma-Montgomery marches, and the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement.

To celebrate his life this year, we’re featuring more of Declan Haun’s photography from Chicago History Museum’s Prints and Photographs Collection: this time, looking specifically at some of the more impressive photographs from the Selma to Montgomery March. Haun moved to Chicago in 1963 and documented the fervor of standing up for equality that Dr. King inspired among millions of Americans during the later years of the Civil Rights Movement.  Haun was notorious as a free-lance photojournalist for the strong sense of social conscience for his subjects, translating his compassion into attention to the composition and formal aspects of his photography.

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Civil Rights Demonstration in Montgomery, Alabalma. 1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Permission to display was given by Chicago History Museum.

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Selma to Montgomery Rights March. 1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection.Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

The Selma-Montgomery marches were three separate marches, held along the 54 mile strip of  highway between the small city of Selma to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. It was organized as a voting rights march to counter systemic voter registration obstruction in Alabama and across the greater South. It was also a response to the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson that February, who was shot by a state trooper during a non-violent march.

The first demonstration on March 7th became violent, when state troopers assaulted unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas when they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The organizer, Amelia Boynton was beaten unconscious, and the press published a photo of her lying on the bridge.

On Tuesday March 9th, clergy from across America joined the marchers as Dr. King led them towards Montgomery along the same route. The marchers turned around on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, obeying a federal injunction that prevented the march from crossing into the unincorporated part of Dallas county. That night a white mob murdered James Reeb, a minister from Boston who had traveled to Montgomery.

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Selma to Montgomery Rights March. 1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

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Civil Rights Demonstration in Montgomery, Alabama.1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection.Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

Haun’s photographs of the march depict the realness of the events, and retell the story of Dr. King’s impact and the fight for civil rights with details and compassion that could otherwise be overwritten.  Photographs of people assembling along with the necessary and uncurated and often invisible parts of organizing and fighting for rights such as living rooms filled cots and mattresses to house people from out of town aren’t just a statement about the stakes and drive of people, but actual evidence of the energy that went into fighting for civil rights.

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Selma to Montgomery Rights March. 1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection.Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

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Selma to Montgomery Rights March. 1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

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Activity in Alabama during the time of the Selma to Montgomery March, 1965. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Permission to display given by Chicago History Museum.

See all of the Chicago History Museum’s materials relating to Dr. King, the Selma to Montgomery Marches, and all of the IDHH’s items on King and Civil Rights here.