Chicago Daily News Photographs Collection Database; 55,000 Chicago Images Dating Between 1902 To 1933

Hi Everyone!

Chicago Daily News Photographic DatabaseOne of my fellow reference librarians at our library made me aware of a nice database that can help genealogy researchers that focus on Chicago ancestral connections.

It is called the Chicago Daily News Photographic Database.  It is part of the Library of Congress American Memory Collection.

Here is a description of what the database is:

This collection comprises over 55,000 images of urban life captured on glass plate negatives between 1902 and 1933 by photographers employed by the Chicago Daily News, then one of Chicago’s leading newspapers. The photographs illustrate the enormous variety of topics and events covered in the newspaper, although only about twenty percent of the images in the collection were published in the newspaper. Most of the photographs were taken in Chicago, Illinois, or in nearby towns, parks, or athletic fields. In addition to many Chicagoans, the images include politicians, actors, and other prominent people who stopped in Chicago during their travels and individual athletes and sports teams who came to Chicago. Also included are photographs illustrating the operations of the Chicago Daily News itself and pictures taken on occasional out-of-town trips by the Daily News’s photographers to important events, such as the inauguration of presidents in Washington, D.C.

Here is a link to get you to the website:

Chicago Daily News Photographic Database; Images Span 1902 To 1933

This is a very nice photographic database from the Chicago Daily News, a former newspaper that was published in Chicago between 1876 to 1978.  Photographs taken during the times of our ancestors can add a lot of meaning to who are ancestors were and how the Chicago area looked to them at the time of the photograph.  Images in the database span from 1902 to 1933.

Just looking at images from the time of your ancestor can give you a better perspective on what they saw at the time and how their world looked to them.

Who knows, you may even find images in the database of your ancestors!

You can do a search of the material using “Keyword” or you can browse by”Subject”or browse by “Name”.

I did look at the database and did a search using a general keyword term of “Polish”.  You can control your search variation terms by using the drop-down menus that can make your search too detailed with controlling terms and may not return hits to you because too many conditions are required to be met.  Keep yours simple initially and then use these “filtering” options if needed.

I received 23 hits on that keyword.  The keyword used may be in the associated title of the image or it may be in the text description of the image.  If it is in the text, I noticed it is highlighted in black in comparison to the other text.

You can view the hits as a list view or as a gallery where the image is in thumbnail format.

It was just nice to see what Polish oriented images were contained in this database.  You can take the same approach for your own ethnic area of genealogy interest.

The subject browsing provides you with a rather large list of subjects that may not be very intuitive.  Just looking at the result of one subject it is identified as “from Alexander, Marjory to Allison, Sam R.”.  I just think you may be better using the keyword approach.

Using the browse by name gives you a “range” to look at.  One example of this is how it shows the following name range such as “from Albright, Adam Emory to Taft, Lorado 1860-1936”.  You click on the range if the name is within that grouping and you will be presented with a more detailed list of all of the names within that range.  The name lists are not that overwhelmingly large in numbers.

This is a nice resource for your possible discovery of Chicago ancestral connections at a specific level or just at a general level of interest.  If not a direct connection to a specific ancestor, then you might simply see what information is contained that could generally apply to the times your ancestor was alive in Chicago.

Give it a try for your Chicago ancestral connections.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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