Museum offers web access to thousands of images from Chicago’s past
Loop North News

Chicago History 1601 N Clark St - MAP

(Above) Passenger boats on Chicago River, circa 1905, looking west from Rush Street Bridge. Photographed by Barnes-Crosby Company, this image was originally an 11 x 14-inch glass negative. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

23-Dec-17 – Thousands of photographs of Chicago from the past 200 years are joining the 21st century as Chicago History Museum works through a painstaking 18-month project to digitize the images and put them online.

About 35,000 nitrate negatives are being processed by staff and interns, thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The images will be added to Chicago History Museum’s collection of more than 1.5 million still images and more than four million feet of film and video.

It is the single largest source of pictorial information on the Chicago metropolitan area from the early 19th century to the present, according to Angela Hoover, Rights and Reproductions Manager at Chicago History Museum.

“The still and moving images...reflect the creativity of the city’s artists, photographers, printmakers, video and filmmakers, and other members of the visual arts community,” says Hoover.

Photo by Calvin Hutchinson (Left) Traffic on Chicago River at Wabash Avenue Bridge, circa 1960, photographed by Calvin Hutchinson. Michigan Avenue Bridge in distance. Originally an 8 x 10-inch negative.

The process for each negative starts with assignment of a unique identification number and other metadata such as date, photographer, and description. Some of this information is written on the enclosure that holds the negative, often by the original photographer.

“Creating metadata for an image can be more time consuming than digitizing the object,” says Hoover, “yet it’s a vital step to ensure that the image remains identifiable and discoverable.”

After being digitized, the negatives are returned to a freezer. Some negatives are in too bad a condition to be digitized. Those are sent for further assessment and restoration.

Most of the images can be viewed online now. The museum expects to have the entire collection on its website by May.

 Website: Chicago History Museum Collection Online

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 23-Dec-17 4:27 AM

Loop North News

FREE WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE

What’s news in the Loop and Near North neighborhoods of downtown Chicago.

Signup for our weekly email. No ads and no charge. Just enter your email address here...

Number of subscribers:
See this week’s update

More stories


Today
Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first solo museum exhibition of Chicago-based artist Paul Heyer. In his most immersive installation to date, Heyer creates a multisensory, dream-like realm that combines his ethereal paintings and sculptures with ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds that trigger euphoric feelings in the visitor. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue. Map. More info.

Wednesday
River North Business Association Business After Hours networking event at Katana Chicago. With its distinctive energy and style, Katana is the perfect setting for RNBA to celebrate the new year. Bring plenty of business cards for this fantastic night of networking! 5:30-7:00 p.m., Katana, 339 North Dearborn Street. Cost: $40. Map. More info.

Thursday
City Club of Chicago presents Sanctuary Cities: Yes or No? Cook County Board Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García, Brian McCann, retired 34-year veteran of Chicago Public Schools, and former congressman Joe Walsh. 11:30 a.m. reception. 12:00 p.m. luncheon. Cost: $50. Maggiano’s Banquets, 111 West Grand Avenue. Map. More info.

More events

Biggest Gainers & Losers

JONES LANG LASALLE INC.
151.76 2.11

AON PLC
134.54 2.01

HYATT HOTELS CORP.
77.03 1.90

ENVESTNET INC.
52.80 1.10

Downtown Chicago Stocks