Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum more


Interactive Talk | Chicago Film History: Seeing Selig

Wednesday, March 23

A first kiss, a wizard, and a private zoo? William Selig, a former magician, became a moving picture pioneer who made his name in Chicago, but, until recently, his work—including Something Good – Negro Kiss and The Tramp and the Dog—had been lost to time. His film career began in 1896 when he manufactured a patented two-in-one machine that captured and projected motion pictures. Selig’s first films, typically under 60 seconds, were only recently rediscovered. Sold by the foot, early films appeared as novelties in carnival tent shows and propelled a fantastic, multifaceted business for Selig. The Selig Polyscope Company built the largest motion picture factory in the US on Chicago’s North Side, establishing more than 100 full-time jobs and new genres of entertainment, such the first cliffhanger series and the first adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Join Emmy Award–winning documentarian and film professor Jeffrey Spitz for an immersive experience in Chicago film history. In this interactive presentation, you’ll be able to share thoughts and questions as we view clips and explore local film history—a history of real-world challenges that shaped Chicago’s innovative film culture yesterday and today. All are welcome, from casual moviegoers to film buffs, so come ready to engage!

Free; registration required. Please consider a donation to the Museum in any amount.


This talk is the first in our ongoing series Chicago Film History, presented in partnership with Jeffrey Spitz, cofounder of Groundswell Educational Films and associate professor in the Cinema and Television Arts Department of Columbia College Chicago.

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This program was funded in part by a grant from Illinois Humanities.


Starting March 1, 2022, Chicago History Museum visitors are not required to show proof of vaccination. While masks are recommended and appreciated, they are no longer required. Learn more about the Museum’s safety policies and procedures.

An artist’s representation of how the Selig Polyscope Company's Chicago lot looked in 1911.
Outdoor Selig Polyscope Company movie set, Chicago, c. 1914. DN-0062406, Chicago Daily News collection, CHM
Interior Selig Polyscope Company movie set, Chicago, c. 1914. DN-0062405, Chicago Daily News collection, CHM

The Details



23 rd

2:00–3:00 p.m.

Event Location

Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60614

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories