Every Artifact in Your Attic Tells a Tale, and the Ones that Say "MFG in Chicago, ILL" Tell Ours

The Made-in-Chicago Museum, est. 2015, is a thoroughly unsolicited historical research project focused on collecting, documenting, and celebrating the “everyday objects” produced during Chicago’s 20th century industrial heyday. What started out as a small collection of rusty metal knick-knacks in my Uptown apartment has since evolved into this website (which I've humbly dubbed a digital “museum") and an honest-to-gosh, visitable exhibition, currently running at the Rogers Park / West Ridge Historical Society on Chicago’s North Side. 

 

There are over 300 industrial antiques and vintage wares on display here so far—all of them dating from 1900 to 1970, and all of them, of course, Made in Chicago

From old advertising tins to tools, toy trains, telephones, and typewriters, each product included in the Made-In-Chicago Museum provides a rabbit hole to its own unique little origin story—complete with the innovators, immigrants, entrepreneurs, and working stiffs who delivered it to the world. Start weaving the various company histories together, and you gradually get a better sense of the city of Chicago itself, and how it became one of the manufacturing capitals of the world.

Images from previous Made In Chicago exhibit at

Edgewater Historical Society, 2017-18

Made in Chicago - Project Mission: 

If a museum theme or philosophy has emerged over the years, it’s that art and industry are not mutually exclusive, and that the innovative products built by the skilled workers in a factory can reflect a time and place just as much, if not more, than any singular work of art. Considering the thousands of Chicago manufacturing businesses that have come and gone over the decades, I've never set a goal of being comprehensive here. Instead, I let the items I find out in the world determine which companies I add to the project next. After that, the biggest goal is to encourage new insights and feedback from "museum patrons" with their own personal memories of these products and the people behind them. Ultimately, this will help produce a useful resource on Chicago industrial history that goes beyond corporate accounts into the always preferable nitty-gritty.

 

Many 20th century factories were pivotal in bringing together different immigrant and minority groups as part of a shared endeavor for the first time—as working men and women made modern manufacturing an essential of a self-sustaining American society. Germans, Italians, Irish, Poles, Swedes, Jews, and African-Americans from the southern states were among the many people who flocked to Chicago's industrial centers looking for a new opportunity. Women also joined the work force in huge numbers, long before Rosie the Riveter. Over time, many of these stories wind up lost to history along with the hollowed out factories themselves, but the unions these workers forged, the harsh conditions and treatment they endured, and the things they helped build—including the rusty and dusty ones in our attics—are part of a lasting legacy.

 

For now, I am only really scratching the surface. 

 

Thanks for visiting,

Andrew Clayman

 

P.S. All antiques featured on this site are part of my own collection, purchased at Chicago garage sales, resale shops, antique stores, estate sales, and occasionally that World Wide Web thing. I'm responsible for all of the photos of said objects (out of focus, or not) and all of the written content on the site, unless otherwise attributed. So, I kindly ask that no use of the descriptions and/or original photography on this site be posted elsewhere without consent, as I am working to collect the contents into a print version. Ya know, copyright complexities and such. Much obliged. (C) Made In Chicago Museum, 2019.

 

The Made In Chicago Museum was also made in Chicago.

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This army-green metal kitchen scale by the Pelouze MFG Co. was the first item in the Made In Chicago collection, purchased at a resale shop in the Andersonville neighborhood.

Lost Chicago Factory Map

Help Support the

Made In Chicago Project

A.B. Dick Company

A.L. Hansen MFG Co.

Abbott Laboratories

Ace Fastener Corp.

Adams & Westlake Co.

Addometer Co.

Addressograph Company

Adjustable Clamp Co.

Admiral Corp.

Airguide Instrument Co.

Albert Dickinson Co.

Albert Pick & Co.

Allied MFG Co.

American Automatic Devices Co.

American Bird Products Inc.

American Cutlery Co.

American Family Scale Co.

American Flyer MFG Co.

American Metal Ware Co.

American Shoe Polish Co.

American Varnish Co.

Ampro Corporation

Anacin Company

Angel Dainty Dye Co.

Armour and Company

Arrco Playing Card Co.

Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co.

B. Heller & Co.

Bally MFG Co.

Bambino Products Co.

Bell & Howell

Benjamin Electric MFG Co.

Bersted MFG Co.

Bloomfield Industries

Bremner Biscuit Company

Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co.

Bunte Brothers Candy

Burke & James

C. Cretors & Co.

C. H. Hanson Company

Cable Piano Company

Cadaco Inc.

Calculator Machine Company

California Beverage Co.

Calumet Baking Powder Co.

Carl Goldberg Models Inc.

Central Waxed Paper Co.

Central Wholesale Grocers Inc.

Chas. A. Brewer & Sons

Chess Records

Chicago Electric MFG Co.

Chicago Flexible Shaft Co.

Chicago Hardware Foundry Co.

Chicago Mail Order Co.

Chicago Printed String Co.

Chicago Roller Skate Co.

Chicago Specialty MFG Co.

Chicago Telephone Supply Co.

Citation Hat Co.

Citrus Products Co.

Claire MFG Co.

Clipper Products Co.

Columbia Medallion Studios

Compco Corp.

Cracker Jack Company

Crane Company

Curt Teich & Co.

Curtiss Candy Co.

D.B. Fisk & Co.

Dad's Root Beer Co.

Damon MFG Co.

Denoyer-Geppert Co.

Detect-O-Ray Company

DeVry Corporation

Ditto Incorporated

Dowst Brothers Company

E.B. Millar & Co.

E.C. DeWitt & Co., Inc.

E.H. Sargent & Co.

E.J. Brach & Sons

E.K. Pond Company

Ekco Products Co.

Electric Clock Corp. of America

Electric Corp. of America

Elgin National Watch Co.

Empire Spice Mills

Essanay Film Mfg. Co.

Eugene Dietzgen Co.

Excel Projector Corp.

F.B. Redington Co.

F.H. Smith MFG Co.

F.W. Planert & Sons

Fidelitone Inc.

Fitzpatrick Bros.

Flavour Candy Co.

Florsheim Shoe Company

Foley & Co.

G. Felsenthal & Sons

Gateway Engineering Co.

General Television & Radio Corp.

Geo. B. Carpenter Co.

Geo. W. Diener MFG Co.

Gold Eagle Products Co.

Grossman MFG Co.

Hallicrafters Co.

Halsam Products Co.

Halsey Brothers Co.

Hammond Organ Co.

Hanson Scale Co.

Harmony Company

Hedman MFG Co.

Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co.

Hump Hair Pin MFG Co.

Illinois Bronze Powder Co.

Illinois Cosmetics Co.

Indestro MFG Co.

J.C. Deagan Co.

J.P. Dieter Co.

J.W. Allen & Co.

Jas. P. Marsh Corp.

Jays Foods, Inc.

Johnson Publishing Co.

Kelling Nut Company

Kellogg Switchboard & Supply

Kling Bros. & Co.

Kraft Foods Company

L. H. Thomas Co.

Langson MFG Co.

Liberty Dairy Products Co.

Lincoln Logs

Ludwig Drum Co.

Lyon & Healy

M.A. Donohue & Co.

Mall Tool Company

Mars Incorporated

MasterCrafters Clock & Radio Co.

Maybelline Company

Metal Moss MFG Co.

Mid City Uniform Cap Co.

Monark Silver King Inc.

Morton Salt Company

Motorola Inc.

National Washboard Co.

Nestor Johnson MFG Co.

Northwestern Beverage Co.

O-Cedar Corp.

Oliver Typewriter Co.

Olson Rug Co.

Page Boiler Company

Paymaster Corp.

Peerless Confection Co.

Pelouze Scale & MFG Co.

Peter Hand Brewing Co.

Playskool MFG Co.

Princess Pat Ltd.

QRS Music Company

Radio Flyer

Rand McNally & Co.

Reed Candy Company

Regal Musical Instrument Co.

Reid, Murdoch & Co.

Reliable Paste Co.

Replogle Globes, Inc.

Revere Camera Company

Rival Packing Co.

Rock-Ola MFG Corp.

S&C Electric Co.

Sanford Ink Company

Scholl MFG Co.

Schulze Baking Company

Schwinn Bicycle Co.

Sherman-Klove Co.

Shotwell MFG Co.

Shure Brothers, Inc.

Signode Steel Strapping Co.

Simoniz Company

Simonsen Metal Products Co.

Slingerland Drum Company

Spartus Camera Corp.

Sprague, Warner & Co.

Standard Brewery

Steele-Wedeles Company

Stenographic Machines, Inc.

Stewart-Warner Corp.

Stone Medicine Co.

Sunbeam Corp.

Swanberg MFG Co.

Swedish-American Telephone Co.

T.C. Gleason MFG Co.

TootsieToy

Triner Scale & MFG Co.

Turner Brass Works

Turtle Wax Inc.

U-C Lite MFG Co.

Union Publishing House

United Razor Blade Corp.

Universal Medicine Co.

Vail MFG Co.

Val-A Company

Valmor Products Co.

Van Cleef Brothers

Vaughan Novelty MFG Co.

Vee-Jay Records

Victor Adding Machine Co.

Victor X-Ray Corporation

W.D. Allen MFG Co.

W.F. McLaughlin & Co.

W.M. Welch Scientific Co.

Webster-Chicago Corp.

Westclox

Western Electric Co.

Western Fluorescent Light Co.

White Cap Co.

William Cooper & Nephews Inc.

Williamson Candy Co.

Wilson Jones Company

Wilson Sporting Goods

Wm. E. Pratt MFG Co.

Wm. Meyer Co.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company

Woodstock Typewriter Company

Zenith Radio Corp.

Zeno MFG Co.

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