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.

Butterfly Transfer Prints

Image of moth transfer print.
Today, anyone can share color photos of butterflies and moths by simply uploading them to social media. It wasn't so easy 120 years ago, when technology to capture color photographs and print the pictures on a page was in its infancy.

Wheat Shaft in Shadow Box

Image of decorative wheat shaft in shadow box.

1904
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Larry H. Smith, 2011.082.0001

This decorative wheat shaft was placed on the grave of James Franklin Moss (1825-1904), a farmer from Jersey County. Wheat is a typical motif of mourning art. It symbolizes the divine harvest of death and the resurrection of the soul.

Phonograph

Image of Grand Busy Bee Disc Talking Machine.

c. 1906-1909
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Leslie Oldenettel in memory of Bernice Oldenettel, 1990.53.42

The phonograph had a profound impact on the way Americans experienced music. Prior to its invention, the only way to hear music was when it was played or sung live. Music was typically played in group settings, where all were welcome, and even expected, to sing along, and the melody was never played exactly the same way twice. The phonograph allowed people to listen to the songs they wanted to hear, when they wanted to hear them, and if they wanted to, they could even listen to them alone.

Hercules I

Hercules I is the first in a series of three Hercules paintings that Manierre Dawson completed in the wake of his visit to the Armory Show in Chicago. He was so taken by Marcel Duchamp’s 1911-12 work, Nude (Study), Sad Young Man on a Train (Nu [esquisse], Jeune homme triste dans un train), that he purchased it.

Baluster, Ohio Building

Image of baluster, Ohio Building, 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
In 1890, lead architect Daniel Burnham took on the impossible task of designing a model city in Jackson Park in Chicago for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (also known as the Columbian Exposition, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the New World). The trouble was, architects and builders had just over two years to complete the monumental task. This baluster, recovered in archaeological excavations, is from a roof balustrade on the Ohio Building. The White City, as the collection of Fair buildings was known, was built to last as long as the fair (about six months).

Spring

Image of sculpture by Alfonso Iannelli.

(born 1888, Andretta, Italy, died 1965, Chicago IL)
1909 (original plaster), bronze cast 1996, edition of 6
Bronze
Illinois Legacy Collection, 2006.108, Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Joel Dryer

In 1914, artist and sculptor Alfonso Iannelli came to Chicago from Los Angeles to work on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Gardens. Iannelli created the famous Sprite figures, the angular, column-like figures that graced Midway’s three-acre beer garden. Iannelli and his artist wife, Margaret, moved to Chicago in 1915 and eventually settled in Park Ridge in 1920, where they maintained a studio workshop.

The Joliet Prison Photographs: 1890 to 1930

Image of images of Joliet Prison life.
Richard Lawson was serving a sentence for marijuana possession in 1969 when he was assigned to serve as an inmate photographer at the Joliet Stateville Prison. During this time, he discovered a cache of glass plate negatives produced by inmates at about the turn of the century. Years later, when he became a professor at Southern Illinois University, he conserved and put together an exhibition of the images in 1981. So far, more than 100 images have been preserved and printed.

Piano Cover

Image of piano cover.

1892
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Zella Lewis & Earl S. Ramseyer, 1989.073.0001

Around 1890, two enterprising teenaged girls from Owaneco, Ida Ramseyer and Laura Fry, came up with an ambitious plan: they would write to the wife of each state’s governor to request swatches of fabric from their ball gowns, then use those swatches to create a crazy quilt.

Tramp Art Radio Cabinet

Image of tramp art radio cabinet.

1911
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Gaylon Sprimont, 2011.134

In the winter of 1910-1911, a drifter named Charles Bosquet stopped at Julian Sprimont’s farmhouse in Will County and requested room and board for the winter. A deal was struck whereby Bosquet promised to create this large cabinet for Sprimont’s battery-operated radio in exchange for his stay. The two men went from tavern to tavern that winter collecting the wooden cigar boxes that Bosquet needed for his work.

Noiseless Carpet Sweeper

Image of noiseless carpet sweeper.

c. 1885-1889
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Bissell, Inc., 1993.018.006

This noiseless carpet sweeper was manufactured by the Prindle Manufactuing Company of Aurora, Illinois, in the 1880s. When pushed along the floor, the brushes would rotate, sweeping dirt and dust from the floor into the dust pan. Devices like these saved homeowners from the laborious process of taking carpets and rugs outside to beat them.

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