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About the Archival Image Collection:

The Archival Image Collection is comprised of select, searchable digital images and texts culled from the archival collections of the Ryerson & Burnham Archives. These electronic surrogates of original archival materials include photographs, slides, architectural drawings, manuscripts, correspondence and printed papers. The Archival Image Collection includes only limited selections from our archival collections, and represents a relatively small portion of our total holdings; the majority of our collections are not yet digitized.

This digital collection consists of all available digital images from our general archival collections, as well as the following special collections, which are described in more detail below: Chicago Architectural Sketch Club (CASC), Historic Architecture and Landscape Image (HALIC) and Magic of America (MOA).


Chicago Architectural Sketch Club (CASC):

The Chicago Architectural Sketch Club was formed in the spring of 1881 by James H. Carpenter in association with eighteen other draftsman colleagues. The organization was later renamed The Chicago Architectural Club and through it the ideas of the Chicago School of Architecture were disseminated throughout the midwest and well beyond. The original Chicago Architectural Club lasted for over fifty years and, within that time period, had more than 1600 members, including many of the early twentieth-century architectural elite. In addition to activities such as regular meetings, lectures, sketch evenings and competitions, the Club published an annual exhibition catalog which contained a list of members and juried entries as well as illustrations of those designs. The club's first illustrated catalog was for its fifth exhibition in 1892. The Chicago Architectural Club sponsored the exhibitions and published the catalogs through 1920. Finally, a consortium of organizations including the Chicago Architecture Club, the Illinois Society of Architects and the Chicago Chapter of the AIA sponsored the exhibitions through 1928 under the name Chicago Architectural Exhibition League. In addition to Chicago-area architects the exhibitions often included related craftsmen and architecture clubs in other cities.

This collection of digital records is an index of all entries to the annual exhibition competition and all illustrations published in the catalogs for the years 1892, and 1894-1928. The illustrations are more thoroughly indexed and may include architect name, project name, location, year and page number. Competition entries that were never illustrated in the printed catalogs but are indexed in our database are designated as "text only" records. In these cases, only the architect and exhibition year and page number are included in the record. Additional data, such as project name, is available for these records from the printed volumes, but not online. Graphical advertisements, many of which include photos and renderings of buildings, have also been scanned and indexed similarly; text-only advertisements were not. Please also note the following:

  • Some of the earlier catalogs were scanned and converted directly to PDFs. These images are of a lower quality than those scanned from later catalogs.
  • Many of the original entries in the printed volumes are misspelled or otherwise incorrect. We have done our best to correct the data when possible. In most cases, the original incorrect data is also included in either the "Notes" field or as an "Alternate Title."
  • Advertisements are usually titled by product name, with the company being listed as the "Architect/Creator" (Example 1) When there is no specific product being advertised, the title is simply listed as "Advertisement" (Example 2). When a building is featured in an advertisement, the building name is listed in the "title" field, the architect of the building in the "creator" field, and the company advertising in the "project personnel" field. In most cases, it is a contractor or supplier, and is listed as such in the record (Example 3).
  • Annual member rosters of the organization are NOT indexed in this database.

For additional information on the history of the Club, see Wilbert R. Hasbrouck's "The Chicago Architectural Club, Prelude to the Modern," Monacelli Press, 2005.


Historic Architecture and Landscape Image (HALIC):

Consisting of approximately 11,000 images that document the architecture, landscape and urban planning of sites across the United States - with a particular emphasis on Chicago and its suburbs - and, to a lesser extent, internationally, The Historic Architecture and Landscape Image collection, or HALIC, contains mounted photographic prints, lantern slides (both black and white and hand-colored), and postcards dating from the 1860s to the 1970s.

These materials supplement, extend, and support the architectural groupings described above, with particular focus on the work of the first Chicago School, the Prairie School, and Beaux-Arts urban planning activities inspired by Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett. Of particular note is a large body of lantern slides that was gathered by the Chicago Plan Commission, representing the international influences of Chicago's urban planning ideals during the 1910s and 1920s.

HALIC also contains a significant number of pre-Civil War, vernacular, and anonymous buildings, as well as images from many of the expositions and world's fairs that took place around the turn of the 20th-century, most notably the World's Columbian Exposition (1893), and the Century of Progress Exhibition (1933-1934), both in Chicago.

The mounted photographs come from many sources, but most were taken by professional architectural photographers. Included are large groups of photographs by the Chicago Aerial Photography Company (active c.1920-1940), the Detroit Photographic Company/Detroit Publishing Company (active 1898-1924), Henry Fuermann and Sons (Frank Lloyd Wright's preferred photographers), Albert Levy (active 1890s), and J.W. Taylor (active 1885-1910). The lantern slides represent the work of numerous photographers and slide-makers, including George W. Bond and Company, Chicago Transparency Company, Curtis and Miller, the Detroit Photographic Company/Detroit Publishing Company, the Historic American Buildings Survey, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Alvina Lenke Studios, T.H. McAllister, A.G. McGregor, L. Manasse, Grace Nichols, Underwood and Underwood, and Edward Van Altena. Browse mounted photographs here.


Magic of America (MOA):

For more information on the images from the Magic of America manuscript, see here.


About the Ryerson & Burnham Archives:

The Ryerson & Burnham Archives collect artists' and architects' papers that complement and extend the permanent collections of the museum's curatorial departments. The Archives' collections are notably strong in late 19th- and 20th-century American architecture, with particular depth in Midwest, Chicago School, Prairie School and organic architecture. Architects such as Edward Bennett, Daniel Burnham, Bruce Goff, Bertrand Goldberg, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Mies van der Rohe, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright and events such as the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition are represented in a broad range of graphic and textual records. The Archives also collect the papers of artists, designers and scholars such as Ivan Albright, Irving Penn, André Mellerio, and Richard Ten Eyck.

Descriptions of all Ryerson & Burnham archival collections may be found here. Finding aids for all Ryerson & Burnham archival collections may be browsed and downloaded as PDFs here.

Select the collections to add or remove from your search