Lewis University Gerald W. Adelmann Papers (Lewis University)
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lazickju@lewisu.edu or
1-815-836-5303

About this Collection

The Gerald W. Adelmann Papers

George W. Adelmann Livery Advertisement

The Gerald W. Adelmann Papers is a collection of photos, advertising items, and family documents and artifacts donated by Gerald W. Adelmann to the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection, at Lewis University. Mr. Adelmann is a long-time Lockport, Illinois, resident and a leader in preservation efforts of the community and of the I&M Canal. This online collection can serve as a resource for researchers interested in the history of Lockport and its people going back to mid-nineteenth century,

Gerald W. Adelmann (Jerry) was born on August 13, 1949, in Lockport from a family who had lived in the city since the early nineteenth century. He graduated from Joliet Catholic High School in 1967 and afterwards attended Georgetown University, getting a BA degree in history of art in 1971, and a MPhil degree in American Studies in 1985 from George Washington University. Beginning as coordinator (1980-1982) of efforts to establish the nation’s first national heritage area at the Opens Land Project (now Openlands) and continuing with the Canal Corridor Association, Mr. Adelmann now serves as President and CEO of Openlands and has pursued lifelong work in preservation and conservation in dozens of sites in northern Illinois, especially in Lockport and along the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Many of the items in the collection relate to Mr. Adelmann’s family history, and regarding his family in Lockport, he related:

My family has lived in the Lockport area since well before the Civil War. My maternal great-great-great-grandfather, James Ritchey, was the first permanent white settler of Homer Township, arriving in 1830. The first Adelmann, Christopher, came from Bamberg, Germany, in 1846. I am a sixth generation resident on both sides. So as a child growing up in this area I was surrounded by relatives and family friends who represented a living link to our local past.

The collection contains 25 photos and one drawing of images of people and buildings of Lockport, which date from 1880 to the 1931 Fireman Day parade in Lockport showing Mr. Adelmann’s great-grandfather (Fire Chief George W. Adelmann) and father (Howard Adelmann). Notable in the collection are 11 full-color advertisements, particularly one for the George W. Adelmann Livery, which provide a rarely seen look at Lockport’s retail business world.

Lastly, the remainders of the items in the collection are 13 miscellaneous documents and artifacts, including an 1850 ledger of John Fiddyment and an Alton and Chicago Railroad stamp. Mr. Adelmann also donated 41 photographs taken of people on the streets of Lockport from 1910 to 1916 by H. H. Carter. These photos can be found online at the H. H. Carter Photographs: http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/index_lew_carter.php?CISOROOT=/lew_carter

Regarding his donation of the Gerald W. Adelmann Papers, which came to Lewis University in 2010, Mr. Adelmann said, "Over the years I acquired and inherited many documents, photographs and artifacts connected with the history of Lockport and the surrounding region. Lewis University seemed like the logical repository for this material, guaranteeing that they would be available to future generations who share my interest in our local heritage. I plan to continue to donate relevant materials to Lewis in the years ahead."