The Chicago - Photographic Images of Change collection includes selected images the James S. Parker Collection (1900-2003) and the Chicago Photographic Collection (ca. 1890-1970). The collection is made available through the generous support of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The James S. Parker Collection comprises nearly 1,000,000 photographic negatives and prints that extensively record Chicago's built environment. Parker owned the firm Copelin Commercial Photographers (originally founded in 1856) where he first started as a partner in the 1960s, then as sole owner. Under Parker, who was also in charge of managing legal photography for the city of Chicago, the strength of the collection is in documenting Chicago from the 1930s through the 1970s, including a wide range of photographs of parks, bridges, intersections, private houses and public buildings. Neighborhoods are documented over time, showing the effects of local economies and urban policy.
The Chicago Photographic Collection, purchased by the Library in 1989, depicts nearly all of Chicago's neighborhoods over several decades, serving as a significant temporal and pictorial documentation of the many changes in Chicago's urban landscape, built environment, and industrial economy, especially during the mid 20th century. While this collection is concentrated on the Chicago metropolitan area, the evolution of its neighborhoods throughout the 20th century attract researchers interested not just in Chicago history, but in how the urban planning and policy decisions made here have bearing on the growth and change in many other American cities.