Chicago History Museum Opens Digitial Access to the Sun-Times Collection
The photography collection spanning 75+ years of Chicago history is now available to the public.
CHICAGO (April 12, 2023) – In 2018 the Chicago History Museum acquired a Chicago Sun-Times photography collection of over 5 million images spanning over 75 years of Chicago history. It is one of the largest newspaper photograph collections ever acquired by an American museum. The collection consists primarily of 35-millimeter negatives and digital images documenting events from as early as the 1940s through the 2000s. To ensure long-term preservation and access, the Museum worked closely with the Chicago Sun-Times to acquire the collection, which was sold by private collectors. Since the acquisition CHM staff have been working hard to make these pieces of history publicly available. Today, the Museum is excited to announce that the public can access online approximately 2 million of the 5+ million images the Museum acquired in 2018. The remaining digital images in the collection will be added over the next few months and by the end of June 2023, the remaining 600,000 images will be available for research use online. An additional 2.4 million physical negatives will be available to view in person, by appointment and advance request, at the Abakanowicz Research Center.
“Digital materials are often even more expensive and time-consuming to care for than their physical counterparts. A collection of this size and complexity requires a deep commitment, not just of resources but also from staff, to steward it over years of work,” says Julie Wroblewski, Director of Collections. “The Chicago Sun-Times is noted for the work of its photographers, and the breadth and quality of these images is unparalleled. It means a great deal to the Museum and the archival staff that our work ensures the long-term preservation and public accessibility of these materials.”
You can learn more about accessing the digital collection at this link. Visitors to the Museum can also see highlights in the exhibition Millions of Moments: The Chicago Sun-Times Photo Collection, which features 150 images. Showing at the Museum until September 2023.
Highlights from the collection include:
- Early events of the Civil Rights era, including school busing, segregated housing, Black Panther activities, and notable leaders in Chicago such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Dick Gregory and Jesse Jackson
- Local and national politics, including activities of Chicago mayors Richard J. Daley, Richard M. Daley, Harold Washington and Jane Byrne; party conventions; and presidential visits
- Sporting events, including Chicago’s professional teams, university sports, high school athletics and Special Olympics
- Built environment, including South and West Side neighborhood scenes, iconic architecture and public housing
- The work of several award-winning photographers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Jack Dykinga (1971) and John H. White (1982); Bob Black, winner of the 1984 World Press Photo award in the Daily Life, Singles category; and Pablo Martínez Monsiváis, who later won a Pulitzer Prize (1999) as an Associated Press photographer.
Processing of the Chicago Sun-Times collection is generously supported by the TAWANI Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and Bon and Holly French. Funding for Millions of Moments provided by Jamee & Marshall Field V and DePaul University.