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Prints and Photographs

One of the Largest Image Collections Accessible to the Public Free of Charge

The Museum’s collection contains more than 1.5 million images. It is the single largest source of pictorial information for the Chicago metropolitan area from the early 19th century to the present and American history before 1865.

The types of visual materials in the collection include:

  • Prints, including etchings, engravings, and lithographs
  • Photographs, including card photographs, cased images, paper prints, and negatives
  • Broadsides and posters
  • Postcards

Subject matter and highlights include:

  • Engravings and lithographs by Currier + Ives, Raoul Varin, and Edwin Whitefield
  • Civil War photographs, including images by George Barnard and Alexander Gardner
  • Portraits of Chicagoans and American public figures, including Abraham Lincoln
  • Street views and cityscapes of Chicago
  • Photographs of neighborhoods and buildings from the Chicagoland-in-Pictures Project
  • Architectural photographs by commercial photographers, including Hedrich-Blessing
  • Chicago Daily News negative collection (1902-65)
  • WGN Television newsfilm (1948-77)
  • Collections of social service and labor organizations, such as the Infant Welfare Society, Mary McDowell Settlement House, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and the Chicago Federation of Labor
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