Libraries & Education

Learn about Chicago through its libraries and schools in these photographs dating from the 1860s through the 1990s.

Explore Chicago’s development, from the circular water tank that housed the first Chicago Public Library to school building exteriors from the second half of the 19th century through the first half of 20th century. Feel the energy of its high school bands and see its sports teams and athletes in action.

Digital Collections

Collections include:
Esther A. Barlow Collection
Family photographs of CPL Librarian Esther Barlow and images of her work at the former Hild Regional Library and Lake View Branch Library from 1927 to 1976.
Chicago Public Library Archives
Photographs trace CPL’s history from a small water tank that survived the Great Chicago Fire to the extensive network of neighborhood libraries that span the city today.
Northside High Schools
Photographs of high school football games, theatrical productions, dances and extracurricular activities from the 1870s to the 1950s.

More CPL Resources

Chicago History Blog Posts
Written by CPL librarians and staff.
Finding Aids: Chicago Public Library
Descriptive inventories of the archival collections documenting the development of Chicago Public Library.
Finding Aids: Education
Descriptive inventories of the archival collections of educators, schools and more.