Chicago History Museum

Archives and manuscript collections include personal papers and institutional records from Chicagoans and Chicago institutions such as Claude A. Barnett, director of the Associated Negro Press; the Board of Lady Managers of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893; the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Senator Paul H. Douglas; District 31 of the United Steelworkers of America; and Marshall Field & Company. The total collection approximates 22,000 linear feet in length. 


Prints and photographs holdings approximate 1.5 million images of Chicago’s people, streets, activities, events, and buildings, including 20,000 photos taken by the architectural photography firm Hedrich-Blessing. Two major digital collections consist of 55,000 images from the 1902-1933 Chicago Daily News and 1,000 Hedrich -Blessing photographs of buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bertrand Goldberg, and of buildings designed for the 1933-34 Century of Progress. 

Architectural drawings and records comprise 250,000 drawings and 200 linear feet of manuscripts from many of Chicago’s major architecture firms such as Holabird & Roche/Holabird & Root, Harry Weese Associates, Alfred S. Alschuler, and Rapp & Rapp, as well as drawings of Graceland Cemetery.

Published materials include 70,000 books and pamphlets; 14,000 volumes of periodicals; 3,500 volumes of newspapers; 2,000 scrapbooks composed primarily of  newspaper clippings; more than 11,000 maps and atlases; and 12,000 reels of microfilm that include major Chicago daily newspapers, city and telephone directories, and dissertations.  The Abakanowicz Research Center also houses a substantial collection of items considered ephemeral, including 6,000 pieces of sheet music; over 1,000 menus; trade cards; entertainment programs; and miscellaneous pieces such as tickets to events, transportation tickets, invitations, and announcements of coming events.