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.

Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula mistassinica)

Image of Primrose in Apple River Canyon.
Herman Silas Pepoon (1860-1941) was a local naturalist with a particular focus on the plants of Illinois and the Midwest. He spent a considerable amount of time exploring Apple River Canyon, where he identified and collected over 500 species of plants. One of his most noteworthy discoveries in the canyon was Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula mistassinica), a plant previously found only in more northerly locations.

Frank Woodruff's Bird Watching Class Outdoors in Lincoln Park

Image of Chicago Academy of Sciences bird watching class.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences (now housed at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum) offers many outdoor opportunities, including classes like those conducted by Frank Woodruff (1867-1926). This image depicts Woodruff's bird identification class in Lincoln Park, possibly near the Chicago Academy of Sciences’ Laflin Building at Armitage and Clark.

Academy Staff Developing a Photographic Enlargement for a Diorama, c. 1915

Image of developoing a photographic enlargement for a diorama.
Until the beginning of the twentieth century, animal specimens were traditionally preserved as study skins or as crudely stuffed mounts. Then, in the early 1910s, a man named Carl Akeley pioneered new specimen preparation techniques that enabled him to create more realistic displays. The Chicago Academy of Sciences also began to experiment with these ideas and devised large, meticulously-detailed dioramas as a new way to represent local species and natural areas.

Passenger Pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius)

Image of Passenger Pigeon study skins.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s scientific collections include several study skins of extinct Passenger Pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius). These four Passenger Pigeon specimens were collected between 1880-1890 in northern Illinois (Evanston and Waukegan).

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.

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