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Lockport, Illinois Slides, 1966-1995 is a collection created by historian John Lamb, who as a long-time advocate of local history preservation, sought to preserve an image record of late twentieth-century Lockport. It is a part of the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection, at Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois. Lockport is a historically important city in Illinois as one of the original canal towns founded along the Illinois and Michigan Canal during its construction, 1836-1848.
Lamb has spent the greater part of his life as a Lockport, Illinois, resident and as a history professor at Lewis University in nearby Romeoville, from 1956 to 1994. He was born on March 30, 1926, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Early in life, he developed a keen historical perspective and an ardent interest in local history. He received degrees in history from the University of North Dakota (BA) and Fordham University (MA). Lamb served in the U.S. Army for two years during the Korean War, followed by doctoral studies in history at Oxford University in England.
A great part of Lamb's personal and professional life has been committed to I&M Canal-related research, publications, presentations, exhibits, grants, legislation, and consultation; and to the social and economic growth of I&M Canal communities, notably Lockport. Lamb is a prolific historian whose writings on Lockport are published in scholarly journals and other periodicals. In 1999, Lamb’s Lockport, Illinois: The Old Canal Town, was published by the Arcadia Press.
The photographic record Professor Lamb took of Lockport includes houses of prominent Lockport figures such as William O'Connell, Bruce Cheadle, and Patrick Fitzpatrick, as well a number of residential houses that date back to the nineteenth century. Many of his slides feature images of Lockport’s business district along State and along 9Th, and show such notable structures as the Adelmann Block, the Boyne House, the Central Square Building, the Fiddyment House (before its destruction by fire), and the Gaylord Building.
Lamb was creating this historical image record of Lockport at a time when the city like most old municipalities in late twentieth century America was experiencing a decline in its central business district. Lockport was working to save its central business district while working to preserve and enhance the city as a historic tourist stop.
The images therefore show a cross-section of modest businesses and the city events that work to improve the downtown. Among the active businesses recorded are Antiques: We Buy and Sell, Hennessey's Tavern, Honig Realty, Pat's Tattoo Parlor, Weber's Denim Shop, and Uncle Richie's Place. Among the parades and events recorded by John Lamb are the Old Canal Days celebration (an event founded by Lamb), the Clean Sweep Campaign, and the Lockport High School homecoming parade.
Professor Lamb's slide record also includes many images of the I&M Canal and Sanitary and Ship Canal that wend their way through Lockport, which reflect his interest in the history of the I&M Canal.
The Lockport, Illinois Slides, 1966-1995 collection thus constitutes an important part of state and local history that will serve local historians today and in the future.
Representing the work of almost three years, student interns worked closely with university librarians and staff to scan and identify almost 400 35mm slides. The collection was digitized under a grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and was put online in 2012.
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