Cook County


Image of sculpture by Marion Perkins, Skywatcher, 1948.

Skywatcher, c. 1948

artist: Marion Perkins; (1908 – 1961, b. Marche AK, d. Chicago IL)


26 ¼ x 4 ¼ x 22”, (66.7 x 10.8 x 55.9 cm)

2003.068, transfer from The Peace Museum, Chicago, from a prior gift of Roslyn Rosen Lund.

In 1916, at the age of 8, Marion Perkins moved from Arkansas to Chicago to live with his aunt, joining the ranks of over 500,000 African Americans who moved to Chicago from the south during a period now referred to as the Great Migration. He lived in Bronzeville, Chicago’s predominately African American neighborhood and home to many of its most outstanding writers and artists.


Image of sculpture, Kimball, by John Kearney, 1994.
A monumental sculpture, this majestic horse commemorates the spirit of the people of the midwest. Named after the donors’ favorite horse, Kimball, the draft horse is a symbol of the strength and courage of the early settlers of Illinois and all who continue to work the land.


Image of typewriter produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company.

c. 1901-1907
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Transfer from Illinois State University, 1993.121.0081.0026.0006

This typewriter was produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company, which had its headquarters in Chicago and its manufacturing plant in Woodstock. Oliver was the first company to produce a “visible writer” that allowed typists to see what they were typing. On earlier typewriters, typists had to raise the platen to see what they had typed. At the company’s peak in the late 1910s, it was producing 375 machines a day.


Image of Telephone made by Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company, 1906.
This phone was made by the Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company of Chicago in 1906. Known as the Microphone 1, this model was the first telephone in the United States to integrate a transmitter and a receiver into a single handset. Between 1900 and 1910, the number of telephones in use in the United States went from 600,000 to 5.8 million.

Barack Obama

Image of Barack Obama, photograph, Dawoud Bey, 2007
Dawoud Bey
(b. 1953, Queens, NY)
Barack Obama
Archival pigment print
2016.021.003, Gift of Chuck Thurow
Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was also the first African American to assume the presidency. Previously, Obama served in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 until 2004 and then as United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.

Congressman Oscar de Priest

Image of Congressman Oscar de Priest, oil painting, Bernard Goss, 1963

Bernard Goss (1913-1966:  b. Sedalia, MS - d. Chicago, IL)

Congressman Oscar de Priest 1963

Oil on canvas

1971.005.211, Transfer from the Illinois State Historical Library

This is a portrait of Congressman Oscar de Priest (1871-1951), an outspoken critic of the segregation of minorities in government. De Priest was not the first African American to serve in congress, but he was the first in the 20th century and the single minority voice for three decades. De Priest understood that he represented not only his Chicago district but the entire black population of the United States. 

John Jones Fights for the Repeal of the Black Code

Image of John Jones Fights for the Repeal of the Black Code, oil painting, Alfred Jackson Tyler, 1963
Alfred Jackson Tyler
(1933-2011, b. Chicago IL, d. Chicago IL)
John Jones Fights for the Repeal of the Black Code
oil on canvas
1971.5/208, property transfer from the State Historical Library
When Illinois entered the Union in 1818 as a free state, vestiges of slavery still existed, and African Americans lived under restrictive laws that limited their freedom. These laws, commonly called the Black Code, denied them the right to vote, assemble in groups, testify in court, or bear arms.

John Jones and His Wife Aid a Fugitive

Image of John Jones and his Wife Aid a Fugitive, oil painting, Alfred Jackson Tyler, 1963

Alfred Jackson Tyler

(1933-2011, b. Chicago IL, d. Chicago IL)

John Jones and his Wife Aid a Fugitive


oil on canvas

1971.5/212, property transfer from the State Historical Library

John Jones arrived in Chicago with his wife, Mary Richardson, in 1845. He was a self-made man with no formal education who went on to develop a thriving tailoring business, invest in real estate, and by 1860, become one of the nation's wealthiest African Americans. In 1871, Jones was elected the first African American Commissioner for Cook County. 

Chicago River

Image of Chicago River, oil painting, Jean Crawford Adams, 1917
Jean Crawford Adams 
(1886-1972, b. Chicago IL, d. Oak Park IL)
Chicago River
oil on canvas
1928.060.700643, museum purchase, Illinois Academy of Fine Art
In 1914, at age 28, Jean Crawford Adams began her training at the Art Institute of Chicago, continued her studies at the Provincetown School of Art in 1920, and finished in the 1920s in Paris. Throughout her career, Adams painted still-life and landscapes, acceptable subjects for a woman artist of her day, but her scenes of Chicago are what memorialize her.

Tool – Carpenters Jig

Image of Carpenters Tool
This is a specialty tool used to cut the relief inset for the frame side of a door hinge. It's likely that it originally had a wooden handle.


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