Five Million Negatives From Chicago Sun-Times Found in Storage Locker #usa #announcements #photographs
Jan Meisels Allen
Hidden in a 30x30- foot storage locker in Dixon (Illinois) , an executive from the Chicago History Museum found more than 225 containers inside the storage locker containing about 5 million negative frames from the Chicago Sun-Times. The owners of the Chicago Sun Times were unaware where the negatives had been until this discovery.
Chicago History Museum employees have been working to organize and digitize large batches of the image basically 35 mm negatives shot over 75 years beginning in the mid-1900s.
While 100 of the images go on display in a free exhibition at the museum entitled, “Millions of Moments: The Chicago Sun-Times Photo Collection (https://www.chicagohistory.org/exhibition/millions-of-moments-the-chicago-sun-times-photo-collection/). Entry to the museum will be limited due to the pandemic along with social distancing and wearing masks.
For those not in Chicago or are staying safer at home. The museum had placed 45,000 of the images on the museum’s website: https://images.chicagohistory.org/ I did a search using the word “Jewish” and many images appeared from the search. Archivists plan to add a few thousand images every month as they scan more negatives. Copies of images on line are also available for purchase.
History of the Photo Archive
The Sun-Times sold the photography archive to Arkansas sports memorabilia collector John Rogers in 2009. The Sun-Times retained the copyrights, and Rogers was going to digitize every image. But Rogers scanned only a portion of the images before being sentenced in December 2017 to 12 years in federal prison for a $23 million scam involving fake sports memorabilia. He is scheduled for release in 2028. After Rogers was arrested and his businesses were closed, it isn’t clear how the trove of Sun-Times negatives got from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Dixon, Il. The archive was sold multiple times, with buyers apparently cherry-picking the images they wanted to keep.
In late 2017, a Dixon businessman was put in contact with the Chicago History Museum, and, in June 2018, it acquired the storage locker filled with negatives for $125,000.
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee