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A service of the Illinois State Library and the Office of the Illinois Secretary of StateILLINOIS DIGITAL ARCHIVES

Industrial History

Calumet Heritage Partnership - Acme Coke Plant browse-->>

The Acme Steel Company collection is curated and owned by the Calumet Heritage Partnership (http://www.calumetheritage.org), a group that serves the greater Calumet region at the southern end of Lake Michigan in Illinois and Indiana. CHP includes environmental, cultural and historical organizations, individuals, libraries, educational institutions, municipalities, and government agencies committed to celebrating, preserving and protecting the unique heritage of the Calumet region. Due to the loss of opportunity to create the Steel Heritage Museum at the Acme Coke plant, and its ongoing demolition, the Partnership group and friends have, over the past two years, rescued a large collection of blueprints, photographs, and other materials.

The importance of this collection has made it the focus of the Calumet Heritage Partnership for this digitizing grant. The Acme Steel section of the archives includes the digitization of Acme corporate-made photographs of employees and production equipment, aerial views, catalogs, booklets, and maps and other artifacts.

Coal Mining, Machine vs. Man browse-->>

Strip mining was a major source of employment and very important to the Wilmington Coal Field towns of Coal City, Braidwood, and Wilmington during the 1930's through the 1950's. The Wilmington Coal Field is located sixty miles south of Chicago. The growth of the city and its need for energy prompted the search for coal in this area. In the late 1800's and very early 1900's many of the small villages in the area were built. Due to the proximity of coal to the ground surface, shaft mining was dangerous and expensive. Strip mining was first introduced in the Danville, Illinois area in the mid 1800's and it was tried in the early 1900's in the Wilmington Coal Fields but it wasn't until the end of the 1920's that strip mining became commercially successful in this area.

This collection includes information on the mining process, how strip mining affected the communities and how they have recovered and continue to progress today. For more information about this project visit this link at the Coal City Public Library site.

Huntley Area Dairy and Agricultural History browse-->>

This collection was created by the Huntley Area Public Library Local History Department and includes digitized materials that are part of our local history collection. This collection highlights Huntley’s dairy and agricultural heritage. This is an ongoing project. If you have additional information pertaining to items in this collection, please contact the Huntley Library Local History Department at 847.669.5386.

Digitization of this collection was developed pursuant to a grant awarded by the Illinois State Library, a Department of the Office of Secretary of State using state grant funds.

Illinois Centennial Business Collections browse-->>

The Illinois Centennial Business Collections features Illinois enterprises that have achieved or surpassed the century mark in continuous operation.

Illinois Historic Aerial Photographs, 1936-1941 browse-->>

On May 12, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Agricultural Adjustment Act. This law was originally administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Adjustment Administration (USDA-AAA), and today the USDA-AAA is known as the USDA Farm Service Agency. Since the mid 1930s, the USDA-AAA and subsequently the USDA-FSA have periodically acquired nationwide aerial photography. Acquired on a county-by-county basis, this aerial photography was first used by the USDA to assess the nation's agricultural lands by estimating cropland acreages from measurements taken on the photographs. USDA-AAA aerial photography also served as the basis for the first national soil surveys.

In Illinois, first-time statewide coverage of USDA-AAA aerial photography was achieved between 1936-1941. This aerial photography is widely recognized in Illinois as a unique resource that represents the earliest photographic record of the cultural and physical landscape features of the entire state. It is intensively used by government agencies, surveyors, planners, consulting scientists and engineers, and other individuals for diverse purposes ranging from determination of past land uses to providing the basis for needs assessment studies in ecological restoration.

In Illinois, this USDA photography between the years of 1936-1941, is estimated to be 33,066 photographs. When the original 9"x 9" and 7"x 9" cellulose nitrate film negatives for these photographs were deemed a fire hazard, they were transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration in the 1960s and eventually destroyed, and high-quality photographic paper prints remain as the only physical record. Public access and continual use of library print collections for several decades has resulted in a significant number of the photographs becoming defaced, faded, worn, or lost. The Illinois State Library (ISL), the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), and other libraries have collaborated on scanning these photographs in order to complete a digital archive that will provide a comprehensive photographic record of the early twentieth century for the entire state. As a result of previous contracts and grants, more than one-half of the print collection has already been digitized, and on-line Internet access is available at the Illinois Historical Aerial Photography (ILHAP) web site (http://www.isgs.uiuc.edu/nsdihome/webdocs/ilhap/). Once a statewide digital archive is established, it will reduce and eventually eliminate the need for patrons to regularly handle the original paper prints. Furthermore, placing the digitized photographs on-line ensures the most widespread access to potential user groups and reduces the pressure on the print collections residing at libraries within the state.

Mining and Mother Jones in Mount Olive browse-->>

"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living", her words still inspire labor organizers, but who was Mother Jones? Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, known as the Miners' Angel, was once described by West Virginia District Attorney Reese Blizzard as "...the most dangerous woman in the world." She described herself in these words: "I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser." In reality, she was all of these things and more in her role as one of the foremost labor organizers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

She claimed to have been born in Cork, Ireland on May 1, 1830. Although a recent (2001) biography by Elliot Gorn states that she was actually born on August 7, 1837. It is unclear why she changed the date of her birth to make it earlier. In 1867, she lost her husband and children in a yellow fever epidemic and in 1871, she lost everything she owned in the great Chicago Fire. It was at this time that she became involved with the newly-formed Knights of Labor and began traveling around the country working for or with labor.

Her growing interest in labor union issues and radical politics led her to become active as a radical labor organizer. Some of the activities in which she was involved include: 1877, helped with the Pittsburgh railway strike; after 1890, became involved in the struggles of coal miners and became an organizer for the United Mine Workers; 1898, helped found the Social Democrat Party; 1899, organized the coalfields of Pennsylvania; 1905, was present at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.

This small collection includes photographs of mines and mine workers from Mount Olive as well as some Mother Jones memorabilia - including the letter she wrote to the miners of Mount Olive, requesting that "I hope it will be my consolation when I pass away to feel I sleep under the clay with those brave boys." Mother Jones died on November 30, 1930 and is buried in the Union Miners Cemetery at Mount Olive, Illinois. Her grave is near that of "those brave boys" she referred to - the victims of the Virden mine riot of 1898.

Pullman State Historic Site browse-->>

The Pullman State Historic Site museum (http://www.pullman-museum.org) focuses on their special collection archive of images and information relating to Pullman and Roseland history. The grant project focuses on Pullman's industrial and labor history featuring historic photographs of the 1881 Pullman Palace Car Company, George Pullman's Town of Pullman, and the town of Roseland; related maps and other materials are also included.

The Pullman Company continued its transportation activities into the 1980s and the selection will include visuals representing all the eras of Pullman production. It will include images from well-known Pullman photographers, including Henry R. Koopman. J. W. Taylor, Thomas S. Johnson, John P. Van Vorst, and Melvin C. Horn. Many of the visuals illuminate the lives of the workers in the Town of Pullman and the community of Roseland as well as showcase the Pullman factory and its historic train cars.

Railroad Maps of Illinois browse-->>

As a crossroads state, as well as incorporating the city of Chicago, a terminus of industry going back to the 19th century, Illinois was a crucial link in the railroad industry. Both passengers & freight were moved in great numbers throughout our territory. One of the most valuable collections held by the Illinois State Library is a collection of railroad maps showing the development of the state's rail system starting in 1854 and up through the present day. At one time many companies crisscrossed the state, but as time passed lines gradually merged as numerous went out of business, their track bought up by the remaining entities until only a few remained. These maps will show what companies existed when and where their track went. Also electric rail passenger lines, i.e. interurban railroads, will be shown on these maps as well. One can still find traces of their tracks, but the maps will show the entirety of these long gone modes of public transportation.

The web version of the images is JPEG2000. Upon request, the State Library map staff can send a TIFF version or can make a full-scale color paper copy.

Southeast Chicago Historical Society browse-->>

The Southeast Chicago Historical Society (http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller) curates a collection particularly strong in materials related to industrial and labor history. Included in their collection are artifacts related to numerous industries in the area including Wisconsin Steel, United States Steel South Works, Republic Steel, Acme Coke /Interlake Steel, Valley Mould, and others.

Materials digitized from this collection focus on industries in the Calumet region other than Pullman and Acme/Interlake Steel. This includes several major steel mills including U. S. Steel, Wisconsin Steel, and Republic Steel. Other area industries such as General Mills, the State Line Generating Station, and local shipyards are also included. Labor activities, especially the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937, related to these industries and local millgate communities including South Chicago, South Deering, the East Side and Hegewisch are featured.