Industrializing Illinois (1877-1917)

Following the Civil War, Illinois continued to grow in population, diversity, and complexity. Large-scale heavy manufacturing and a growing commercial sector joined agriculture as major employers of a rapidly growing population. Immigration continued, with African Americans from the South and southern and eastern Europeans joining more established groups. Conflicting interests sometimes led to unrest, strikes, and even violence. During this period, Illinois also became a center of exciting new movements in art, architecture, and literature.

Scrapbook of the World’s Columbian Exposition

Image of 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition scapbook.
In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition—an epic event that drew nearly 27 million attendees from around the world. The fair celebrated art, architecture, social issues, agriculture, and technology through various exhibitions and displays, providing visitors with both entertainment and educational opportunities.

Illinois Art Pottery

Image of Illinois Art pottery.

Vase
The American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Company
c. 1904-1906
Earthenware
Condell Fund purchase. 1996.94
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Vase
Chicago Crucible Company
c. 1920-1932
Earthenware
Condell Fund purchase. 1989.24
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Vase
Haeger Potteries
c. 1940-1950
Earthenware
Gift of the Lincoln Land Depression Era Glass Club. 2000.32.1
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

Illinois’ tradition of art pottery can be traced back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In the wake of this tragedy, the need for economical, fireproof building materials was made clear, and the architectural terra cotta industry was born. At the same time, the Arts and Crafts movement inspired ceramists to combine artistry with industry to create pottery whose beauty lay not in hand-applied surface decoration but in innovative shapes.

Salesman’s Sample Case

Image of portrait company salesmans sample case.
This sample case was carried by a representative of one of the many late 19th and early 20th century commercial portrait companies that created large crayon portraits from customers’ photographs. Armed with this case, the salesmen traveled (usually by train) across the country, knocking on doors, displaying his products, and deflecting objections in an effort to secure orders.

Table Runner

Image of table runner brought to Illinois from Virginia, 1818.
In 1818, the year Illinois achieved statehood, this table runner was brought to Illinois from Virginia. It is woven with scenes from the Bible, including the Last Supper.

Charity Quilt

Image of quilt made in 1889 to raise money for the Women’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic.
Charity Hedge Lingenfelter created this quilt in 1889 to raise money for the Women’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. Proceeds from the sponsorship and sale of this quilt would go to help Union veterans of the Civil War, as well as their widows and orphans. Charity had a personal interest in the plight of Civil War veterans, as her husband, Aaron, had lost a finger while serving in the 55th Illinois Infantry.

World's Columbian Exposition, 1893

Image of Anna Pottery pig flask, cotton handkerchief, fair ticket, and souvenir box from 1893 Worlds Fair.

Handkerchief
Maker unknown
1893
cotton
Gift of Nancy Batchelder Fryxell. 2013.77.12
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Souvenir box
Maker unknown
1893
glass, metal, satin
Gift of Shelley Stewart, 2008.83
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
World’s Columbian Exposition ticket
Maker unknown
1893
paper
Found in Collection, x-885
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Pig flask
Anna Pottery
1893
stoneware
Gift of Margaret Kirkpatrick, 1965.14.745591
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

Between May 1 and October 31, 1893, more than 12 million people visited the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America. More than 65,000 exhibits covered 600 acres on the city’s South Side, illuminated at night by hundreds of thousands of light bulbs. Visitors looked at new inventions, listened to lectures, saw art exhibits and sporting events, watched movies, rode the original Ferris Wheel, and tasted new foods such as shredded wheat and Juicy Fruit gum.

Magic Lantern

Image of handmade magic lantern.
In the era before moving pictures, magic lantern shows were a popular form of entertainment. An early precursor of a slide projector, this device used the light of a candle or oil lamp to project images on a wall or screen from glass slides. Public magic lantern shows entertained audiences with projected images, narration, and live music. Smaller models of magic lanterns were available for home use and were especially popular as holiday gifts.

Dinner Bucket

Image of enameled ware dinner bucket.

Dinner Bucket
Fancy fare for the working man
1915
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Lee I. Niedringhaus, 2006.149a-d

This dinner bucket was used by a working man to carry lunch to his job site. It is a rare surviving example of the oblong bucket produced by the National Enamel and Stamping Company (NESCO) of Granite City.

Fisherman’s Home Liverpool, Ills.

Image of etching "Fisherman's Home, Liverpool, Ills., Lee Sturges, 1917.
Lee Sturges (1865-1954) was a prolific artist and inventor who was born in Chicago and lived in Elmhurst from 1892 until the year before he died in 1954. In his career as a businessman and engineer, he helped found the Illinois Manufacturers Association in 1893. Throughout his life, Sturges was awarded patents for 20 inventions, including a small-scale etching press that led to a revival of the medium.

Lakeside Classics

Image of Lakeside Classics book series.
Lakeside Classics are books published by R.R. Donnelley & Sons that feature first-person narratives of American history. Since 1903, the books have been released every Christmas, a practice that continues today. However, the books are not sold to the public but instead have been given to employees and others associated with the company.

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