Archives At Our Fingertips: Chicago Film Archives, Illinois Digital Archives And More
Have you ever wondered if there was a way to find old commercials, films, news reports or archived photos and more about Chicago and/or Illinois? I remember a year ago I was talking to someone about a commercial I saw as a kid that I never forgot but because it was so long ago I couldn’t remember what company it was for. I remember the tune, but not the words and remembered what the actors were doing but that was it. So I went on a hunt to find this television ad.
In my search I came across two websites I knew existed, one I had been told existed but never visited and one I didn’t even know existed. First let me say the Chicago Public Library is definitely a place to go for a wealth of information as well as the Jane Addam’s Hull House Museum. These are great places to visit and you’re able to sit down and read up on lot of the history here in Chicago and in some cases see a few of the physical history that has been donated. But what if you don’t want to leave your bed, your cozy couch with your laptop or leave your home period but want to do some research. Well that’s where these websites come in handy.
The Chicago Film Archive is such a wonderful place to get archival 16mm film footage. I found myself just looking through random videos because it was just so delightful to have such footage right there in front of you and not going to Youtube for a clip here and there that may have be used for someone’s possibly misrepresented purpose - (Note: I have no issues with Youtube but I do enjoy having a website that caters to my particular search with no possible alterations plus The Chicago Film Archive does have its own Youtube page) - The Chicago Film Archive is a non-profit institution that began in 2003 and its physical location is in the Pilsen neighborhood. The film archives have been donated by the Chicago Library but they’ve also and continue to collect footage taken over the years by people from Chicago and Illinois who graciously donate them.
Another resource is The Illinois Digital Archives that we are fortunate to have available to us online as well. It’s a more straightforward search with one page, type what you need and there you have it; photographs, documents, posters, videos, postcards, etc., a wealth of digital collections from libraries, museums, historical societies and other cultural institutions in Illinois. You can read more about the copyright information on the main page but generally the information is public domain.
With the last two websites I did mention one earlier this week because they offer an awesome Tumblr page of photos displaying people and places in Chicago’s history. The Chicago History Museum not only offers the Tumblr page but they also have a Chicago Historical Files page of memorable events with photos and interesting tales of the stories behind the events. This page is not as in depth of a search you would get from the other two sites but it’s a great resource you should bookmark or favorite. The other is from the Chicago Tribune Archives where you can explore past articles. It’s limited to the Tribune but the resource is definitely one to have readily available and the articles are usually complete.
In continuing with the birthday celebration of Chicago from this past Monday, these are just a few assets that we have to make us love our great city even more. So please make it a choice to stop by and show our appreciation for these institutions hard work and sharing.
Oh by the way the commercial I was looking for was from an amusement park called Funtown.