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.

Magic Lanterns and Glass Slides

So much of our work at the IDHH is focused on photographs, but so often we overlook the history of photography in the 20th century- specifically how photographs and the camera became the way we documented our everyday life.

In celebration of the darkest time of the year and the lights of the winter holidays I want to highlight  lantern and glass slides from Mount Prospect Library’s “Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect”, The Museum of the Grand Prairie through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s “Teaching With Cultural Heritage”, and Highland Park Historical Society’s “George D. Rice Collection”.

Magic Lantern. C.1900. Mount Prospect Public Library. Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect. Permission to display given by Mount Prospect Public Library.

The Magic Lantern was an early projector.  Originally invented in the 16th century, projectionists would move painted glass slides behind the lens to create performances and shows.  Only lit by candle light, the projection was weak. In the 19th century, small kerosene lamps were mass produced and replaced other, more dangerous illumination methods. Kerosene in part popularized lanterns and put them in churches, schools, homes, fraternal societies and more in the hands of amateur projectionists.

This Magic Lantern from Mount Prospect Public Library’s is a German import from the early 20th century.  With 37 glass slides, it projected scenes onto a wall, and included crayons for creating personal slides for new projections.

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Magic Lantern. C.1900. Mount Prospect Public Library. Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect.Permission to display given by Mount Prospect Public Library.

Mount Prospect Public Library’s “Dimensions Of Life in Mount Prospect” includes photographs and descriptions of artifacts from residents of Mount Prospect from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With artifacts ranging from horse-hair mittens, to glass soda pop bottles, the collection shows how the early days of Mount Prospect and the northwest suburbs of Chicago were influenced by its German heritage and American identity before World War II when the village suburb’s population exploded.

The Museum of the Grand Prairie (formerly known as The Early American Museum) has a large collection of painted glass slides that children could use with toy lanterns.

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Magic Lantern Slide: Five Men. C. 1850. Museum of the Prairie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Teaching with Cultural Heritage”.
Magic Lantern Slide: Ships along the Coast. C. 1850. Museum of the Prairie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Teaching with Cultural Heritage”.
Magic Lantern Slide: Boys on pigs and donkeys. C. 1850. Museum of the Prairie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Teaching with Cultural Heritage”.

These awesome images would be projected on screens, showing sequences and small cartoonish and kitschy ethnographies and scenes of the everyday from ambiguous places.

Compare these slides to the glass lantern slides from the George D. Rice Collection at the Highland Park Historical Society.

Glass Slide: Ships in Glacial Waters. C.1900. Highland Park Historical Society. George D. Rice Collection. Permission to display given by Highland Park Historical Society.
Glass Slide: “A Walking Loaf of Hay”. C. 1900. Highland Park Historical Society. George D. Rice Collection. Permission to display given by Highland Park Historical Society.
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Glass Slide: Man Sitting on the Front Stoop of House. C. 1900. Highland Park Historical Society. George D. Rice Collection. Permission to display given by Highland Park Historical Society.
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Glass Slide: Group of Men Standing Near Bale of Hay. C. 1900. Highland Park Historical Society. George D. Rice Collection. Permission to display given by Highland Park Historical Society.

For more photography, the IDHH is always open. You can find more from Mount Prospect Public Public Library’s “Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect” Artifacts from the Museum of the Prairie via University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s “Teaching with Digital Heritage” at the links above and more on Highland Park Historical Society’s “George D. Rice Collection” on the IDHH and on their website.