Modern Era (1917-present)

The state’s Modern Era has been one of continued growth and change. Following World War I and the nation’s greatest economic collapse, public works projects of the New Deal put people to work on civic projects, such as building roads and infrastructure, and brought history to life by protecting a number of historic places around the state. The Federal Arts Program of the W.P.A. paid artists to create paintings, prints, sculptures, and murals for civic beautification, pride, and capturing the moment. Beginning in 1941, the state’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors and the sacrifices of citizen-soldiers played an important role in making the United States a leader on the world stage.

Illinois Art Glass

Image of Illinois Art Glass.

Birds ashtray
The Dearborn Glass Company
c. 1957-1965
Fused glass
Gift of Michael Mueller. 2012.151.2

Blot square bowl
The Higgins Studio
c. 1951-1957
Fused glass
Gift of Michael Mueller. 2012.151.9

Arabesque bowl
The Dearborn Glass Company
c. 1957-1964
Fused glass
Gift of Michael Mueller. 2012.6.6

Glass artists Frances and Michael Higgins met at the Chicago Institute for Design and married in 1948. Together, they founded The Higgins Studio in their Chicago apartment, using kilns positioned behind their sofa to create decorative and everyday items using their signature fused glass technique. They quickly attracted orders from major retailers such as Marshall Field’s and Georg Jensen.

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.

Illinois Flag

Image of Illinois flag flown in Vietnam War.
This flag was flown over the tents and barracks of the 515th Transportation Company at Cam Rahn Bay from 1966-68 during the Vietnam War. It is signed by the 22 Illinois members of that company. The 515th, known as the Roadrunners, drove 5-ton trucks hauling supplies to the troops in 12 hour shifts around the clock, 365 days each year.

Peasant Blouse

Image of blouse purchased in Mexico.
Estanislao Goff purchased this blouse on a trip to Mexico in the late 1940s. That trip was the last time she would ever see her homeland, and the blouse was a reminder of the country and culture she had left behind decades earlier.

Nightgown

Image of nightgown purchased in Paris at the end of World War II.
First Lieutenant Irwin Davenport bought this nightgown for his young bride, Beatrice, in Paris at the end of World War II. Beatrice and Irwin were college sweethearts who had married on June 15, 1943.

A Century of Progress International Exposition, 1933-1934

Image of woman's bracelet, brass tray, and compact from 1933 Worlds Fair.

Tray
Maker unknown
1933
brass
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.38
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Compact
Girey
1934
metal, plastic, glass
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.187
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Bracelet
Maker unknown
1934
metal, plastic
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.187
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

During the depths of the Great Depression in 1933-34, Chicago staged its second world fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition, to celebrate its centennial anniversary. Its purpose was to celebrate the amazing advances in technology during the period 1833-1933 and to inspire fairgoers with the promise of the happier future that scientific innovation promised.

Hand-Painted Bowl

Image of Pickard China bowl painted by Ingeborg Klein.
This bowl was painted with a bird of paradise design by Swedish immigrant Ingeborg Klein for the Pickard China Company. Klein worked for Pickard from 1920 until about 1925, when she returned to Sweden.

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.

Typewriter, Underwood No. 5

Image of typewriter owned by Carl Sandburg.
This typewriter belonged to Illinois’ own Carl Sandburg, nationally known author, poet, and journalist, while he lived in Elmhurst from 1919 to 1930. Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1878 and eventually moved to the Chicago area to begin a career in journalism. He wrote for the Chicago Daily News, reviewing movies and covering labor news. The Sandburg family moved to Elmhurst in 1919, the same year he won his first of three Pulitzer Prizes.

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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