Featured Collections


Amateur Photographs of the World's Columbian Exposition
Amateur Photographs of the World's Columbian Exposition

The introduction of George Eastman’s inexpensive Kodak camera in 1888 paved the way for the rise of amateur photography. The highly photographable 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition came at an opportune time for amateur photographers, who could bring their cameras to the grounds for a daily fee and document their experiences. Follow the link above to view highlights from CHM’s collections.

Digitization and preservation of these images was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information on this project, see CHM's Monday Night Nitrates blog series

Chicago's Roll of Honor
Chicago's Roll of Honor

More than four thousand men and women from Cook County lost their lives in World War I. Between 1919 and 1921, Colonel E. E. Woods, then secretary of the membership committee of the Chicago Historical Society, compiled more than one thousand photographs and brief biographies of Cook County residents who died in the war. To view biographies of several of the men and women featured here, visit our digital Google Arts & Culture exhibition.

*Thanks to the Tawani Foundation for their generous support.*

American Civil Rights Era - Photography by Declan Haun
American Civil Rights Era - Photography by Declan Haun

During the 1960s, Americans questioned the future of their nation. Furious debates raged over politics, race, religion, and war. Americans argued over conservative and liberal strategies, integrationist and segregationist policies, and sacred and secular approaches to the country’s problems. While photojournalists often recorded the decade’s violent clashes, Declan Haun’s quiet and contemplative views revealed his subjects’ inner resolve and measured the decade’s greatest debates with a compassionate eye. In 2002, the Chicago Historical Society acquired the Declan Haun archive through the generosity of the photographer’s estate.

Chicago Blues and Folk Music - Photography by Raeburn Flerlage
Chicago Blues and Folk Music - Photography by Raeburn Flerlage

Raeburn Flerlage was a Chicago-based record distributor and photographer who, beginning in the late 1950s, captured some of the city and nation’s most important musicians, especially legends of the blues genre. Muddy Waters, Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf, and BB King are just some of the artists represented in this robust collection. Flerlage’s photographs often landed in national industry publications such as Down Beat, Rhythm and Blues, and Jazz but were just as likely to be seen locally in the Chicago Daily News or used on artists’ album covers.