International Workers’ Day: Honoring Labor

May 1 marks International Workers’ Day and the first week of May a significant time period in the history of labor and labor organization. May 4 is the 133rd anniversary of the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, an event in city and state history that resounded around the world and it, along with the events leading up to the Affair, are widely cited as the inspiration for International Workers’ Day. The IDHH highlights items from the Chicago History Museum relevant to the Haymarket Affair, workers’ rights, and labor organization across the state of Illinois.

The Chicago History Museum’s Prints and Photographs Collection includes prints and photographs that picture Haymarket Square, the location of a workers’ rally held as part of efforts to instate the eight-hour work day as a national standard and in response to the killing of several protestors on the previous day by police. The rally was initially peaceful but ended in the explosion of a homemade bomb, seen rendered in the print below by the artist, Paul J. Morand, that killed seven police officers. Police veterans of the Haymarket Affair were honored by their department and by local and municipal leaders, as evinced by the banner in an 1895 parade. Organizers, including those killed by police in the aftermath of the bomb and those wrongly accused in the fury of investigations and trials following the bombing were commemorated mainly by labor organizations.

Check out more items that relate to the Haymarket Affair, and workers’ rights and labor in Illinois. There are also many collections with items pertaining to labor, such as the Pullman State Historic Site’s Southeast Chicago Historical Society collection. To learn more about the Haymarket Affair, check out this article from the Encyclopedia of Chicago. For a timeline of events, search strategies, and a sampling of newspaper articles contemporaneous to the Haymarket Affair, see the Library of Congress webpage on the event.

National Guitar Month

April is National Guitar Month and to celebrate, the IDHH spotlights items from two collections from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Library: the Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection and the John Starr Stewart Ex Libris Collection.

The John Starr Stewart Collection comprises more than 1500 book plates, book stamps, and spine labels from the late 19th century and earlier. Among these is a stamp from Leipsig, Germany that features a guitarist identified as Agnes Drobner.

Poster with illustration of woman playing guitar.
Horst-Schulze. Drobner, Agnes. 1900. UIUC Library. John Starr Stewart Ex Libris Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.

The Sousa Archives houses thousands of pages of sheet music, musical instruments, and other historical artifacts pertaining to America’s diverse music heritage. Among these is a fascinating collection of early and experimental guitars, including some of the first electric Hawaiian guitars produced. Included below are an assortment of these unique guitars, including table and lap-style guitars developed by Eddie Alkire and produced by the Rickenbacker and Epiphone guitar companies, as well as Alkire’s modified 12-string acoustic Oahu GUITAR.

Electro A-22
Rickenbacker. Steel guitar. ca 1932. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.
Oahu Jumbo 68B model acoustic guitar
Hawaiian guitar. Date unknown. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.
Ten-string lap-style electric guitar
Epiphone. Eharp-Lap Model Guitar. Date unknown. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.
Table electric guitar
Epiphone. Eharp. Date unknown. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.

Celebrating Spring with the Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden

There is still a nip in the air across Illinois but this week marks the calendar’s first week of Spring. To celebrate Spring and to turn our minds toward warmer weather, the IDHH highlights the Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s collection in the Illinois Digital Archive. The collection features more than 100 digitized books, postcards, and photography. These digital items represent a tiny fraction of the Lenhardt Library’s rare book collection, which provides 500 years of research on nearly all things related to botany, horticulture, agriculture, gardening, landscaping, and botanical art.

The first three items below are postcards featuring photomechanical prints of original photographs and paintings of botanical landmarks in Lincoln Park, Jackson Park, and Washington Park. All of these places, the Conservatories in Lincoln Park and Washington Park and the Japanese Garden in Jackson Park are still extant.

The last items are photographs from the 1965 Chicago World Flower and Garden Show. First held in 1847, the tradition continues to this day.

Thanks to our contributor, the Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Gardens. See all of their items in the DPLA or check out all IDHH items with the subject, “Spring.”

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The Illinois Digital Heritage Hub celebrates by highlighting collections at the Lake Forest Academy and the Quincy Public Library.

Lake Forest Academy has a long and fascinating legacy that encompasses the history of Ferry Hall, which merged with the Academy in the 1970s. In the image below, students in costume gather for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner and festivities.

Ferry Hall Students and Faculty gather around a table for dinner on the Feast of Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick’s Day Dinner, Ferry Hall, circa 1895. Lake Forest Academy. Lake Forest Academy and Ferry Hall Archives. Permission to display was given by the Lake Forest Academy.

The Quincy Public Library has long been a cornerstone of its town and community. The images below capture the library’s participation in Quincy’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the early 1990s.

In addition to the Quincy Public Library and the Lake Forest Academy, check out other St. Patrick’s Day themed items contributed by IDHH institutions, including a rich set of items provided by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Welcome, Madison Historical!

This post was co-written by Ben Ostermeier, developer for Madison Historical.

The IDHH thanks Madison Historical, a collaboration of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and 26 local Madison County institutions, for sharing their collections with the DPLA. Madison County, home to Edwardsville, Granite City, Alton, and Madison, was the place of residence of abolitionist, Elijah Lovejoy, whose murder by pro-slavery sympathizers in 1837 inspired anti-slavery activists and militants, including John Brown. Historically, Madison county was a much larger and once occupied land from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the northern two thirds of Illinois.

Madison County is well known as a seat of industry in the state of Illinois. One of the oldest and longest enduring is agriculture, including wheat, corn, soy, and horseradish. Pictured below are some early tractors from the turn of the 20th century, often assisted by horses.

Madison County was also home to the Illinois Glass Company, based in Alton. The company merged with the Owens Bottle Machine Company in 1923 to become the Owens-Illinois Glass Company and the largest glass bottle producer in the world. Their largest factory was in Alton until it closed in 1983.


Coal mining was another leading industry through the mid-20th century, though mines are now abandoned. Below are pictures of the people and equipment that made Madison County one of the leading coal-producing regions in the country.

A major industry still active in Madison County is oil refining, with John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil establishing a refinery in 1908 in Wood River, and Shell Oil establishing another in Roxana in 1918. The Shell Oil refinery is now operated by Phillips 66.


Finally, the railroad industry played a huge role in the development of Madison County, tying into both agriculture, mining, as well as petroleum. Trains made commerce across Illinois and throughout the country more efficient, transporting Madison County’s products throughout the U.S.

Another collection belonging to Madison Historical are a series of high school newspapers from Granite City High School from the 1930s to the 1950s. Spanning the Great Depression, World War II, and the early years of the Cold War, the newspapers offer fascinating insight into adolescent reactions to major world events of the 20th century.

Front page of a high school newspaper, Granite High World
“Granite High World” School Newspapers for the 1945-46 School Year. 1945-10-04. Madison Historical – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Permission to display was given by Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.

See all of the Madison Historical Items in the DPLA.
See other items contributed by Southern Illinois Edwardsville.

Celebrating Black History

The IDHH celebrates Black History Month with collections remembering African American cultural heritage,communities, and Black-owned businesses in Illinois. We highlight two collections, the McLean County Historical Society’s Bloomington-Normal Black History Project and Elgin Community College’s Elgin Community College History collection.

The Elgin Community College History collection includes images from Elgin-area Black History Month celebrations often involving prominent figures in African American history and culture. In particular, Tuskegee Airman Andrew Lane met with Larkin High School students for Black History Month in 1994.

The McLean County Historical Society’s collection chronicles African American communities and notable residents as well as Black-owned businesses in the Bloomington-Normal area from the turn of the 20th century through the 1990s. Featured below are, clockwise, beginning in the top right, photos of Ike and Lue Anna Brown Sanders’ Working Men’s Club, Harry Bell’s Tailor Shop, Robert Gaston’s Upper Cut Barbershop and Richard Bell’s amusement park.

See all items in the IDHH relating to Black History Month.

Remembering the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the activism for justice and equality that his work is a part of and continues to be exigent to this day. The IDHH highlights collections from the Chicago History Museum that include photographs by DC-area journalist, Declan Haun, as well as an interview with an activist who participated in protests in Chicago in response to King’s assassination in 1968.

The Chicago History Museum’s Prints and Photographs Collection includes photographs from King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech on August 28,1963 (the first image below on the left), his involvement in the March 1965 protests against police brutality in Montgomery, Alabama (top right), and images from King’s Chicago Freedom Movement, including a march in 1966 (bottom right). King was a powerful voice in Civil Rights and inspired many others to stand up for equality for African Americans and all People of Color.

The Chicago History Museum’s Oral History Collection includes transcripts and audio from interviews conducted by the Museum’s Studs Terkel Center for Oral History. Hear from Marilyn Katz who was involved in protests in Chicago in the wake of King’s assassination. Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, ideas, and the people he inspires live on to work toward social justice.

Several IDHH Institutions have put together exhibits in honor of Dr. King, including the Chicago History Museum’s Remembering Dr. King, which focuses on King’s work in Chicago. Some of the exhibit’s images are online in the Chicago History Museum’s Digital Library and in the DPLA. See all of the Chicago History Museum’s materials relating to Dr. King. See all of the Illinois Digital Heritage hub’s items on King here.

Chicago Park District Collection

The Chicago Public Library has provided a collection comprised of 10,000 images capturing the history of the Chicago Park District.  One of the largest contributions to the DPLA by an IDHH institution, the Chicago Park District Photographs digital collection is but a fraction of the Chicago Public Library’s Park District photographs. The digitized items represent 93 parks across the city. See all of the Chicago Park District items in the DPLA here.

Sepia tone photo of lake amidst trees in a park
Washington Park, lagoon, 1935. Chicago Park District Records: Photographs, Box 104, Folder 5, Special Collections, Chicago Public Library. Permission to display provided by Chicago Public Library Special Collections
Four young women pose on a running track poised to start a sprint
Douglas Park, track and field, 1952. Chicago Park District Records: Photographs, Box 17, Folder 5, Special Collections, Chicago Public Library. Permission to display provided by Chicago Public Library Special Collections

Season’s Greetings from the IDHH

The Illinois Digital Heritage Hub celebrates December by highlighting items that symbolize three of the month’s holidays as well as the winter solstice. Best wishes to everyone this holiday season.

“Happy Kwanzaa” is shared with permission from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library. See all items contributed by the UIUC Library to the IDHH. The item is from a collection of materials created by artist and teacher Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. that speak to issues of equality, freedom, race, and African American and Pan-African history and culture.

“Chanukah” is shared with permission from the Illinois State University Milner Library. See all of Illinois State University’s items in the IDHH. Browse all items in the International Collection of Child Art, of which Chanukah is an item.

“Christmas Lights on the Tower” is provided with permission from the Bess Bower Museum of Lake County. See all their items in the DPLA. The item is from the Fort Sheridan collection, which documents the history of a former U.S. Army post in Lake County north of Chicago.

Winter in Illinois

December marks the beginning of the meteorological Winter; however, in Illinois, the cold weather and snow that are part and parcel with the Winter months often get underway as early as October. Now, the winter is just properly starting, with December being the first of the three coldest and usually snowiest months of the year.

Black and white photo of a person standing in front of a frozen waterfall
Winter at Homan Falls. Circa 1916. Quincy Public Library. Permission to display was given by Quincy Public Library.

As cold as temperatures can be during recent seasons, historical records, including data and photographs, demonstrate that winters in Illinois and across the country were colder and often snowier in the not-so-distant past. The Quincy Public Library’s Quincy Area Historic Photo Collection includes many photos that help provide historical records of winters past as well as capture the sublime beauty of some of Illinois’ harshest weather.

Bkack and white photograph of a snowy street next to multi-story houses
West side of 6th street North of Elm. Late 1800s. Quincy Public Library. Permission to display was given by Quincy Public Library.

Far beyond its impressive set of winter and weather-related images, the Quincy Area Historic Photo Collection shows the history of a remarkable town, with records dating back to the 1830s, just a decade after the town’s founding. Quincy is a significant location in the history of the Mormon faith as well as being the site of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Two-story brick home with snow-covered yard in trees in the foreground
Orville H. Browning Family Home. Date unknown. Quincy Public Library. Permission to display was given by Quincy Public Library.

See all of the Quincy Public Library’s items in the IDHH. See all of the items contributed by IDHH institutions that relate to winter or snow.