Railroaders: a Hit

DELANO EXIBITION-32
Visitors explore the “Around the Yards” section of the exhibition, which features a model classification yard and wall-sized enlargement of the Illinois Central roundhouse at Markham Yard. Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek; see more photographs of the opening weekend activities on the Center’s Flickr page.

Smashing. That one word sums up the Chicago opening of the Center’s and the Chicago History Museum’s Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography exhibition on April 3, 4 and 5. Well over 1,200 visitors viewed it on those three days—200 on Thursday for the museum’s opening reception for members, 350 on Friday for the Center’s own reception for descendants and family members of the portrait subjects, and 650 for the museum’s public opening on Saturday. Museum staff members were agog. One said that Center’s Friday event was “simply one of the finest in my years at the museum.” And the museum store posted record sales that night. Authors John Gruber, Pablo Delano, and Jack Holzhueter signed copies of the catalog steadily for about two hours. Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, gave the keynote remarks and blogged about his experience on the Department of Transportation’s website. Chicago publicity was over the top. The Chicago Tribune gave the show two-thirds of a page; the suburban Daily Herald featured it on its Friday front page; and a Sun-Times reviewer said that he was so touched by the film featuring Pablo Delano that he—a tough Chicago newsman—cried. We do not urge tears, but we do urge attendance and purchasing of a catalog.

“Railroaders” Exhibition Opens

Railroaders: Jack Delano's Homefront Photography
Entry graphic (left) and cover of the catalog for the exhibition Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography, which opens April 5 at the Chicago History Museum.

On April 5, the Center’s largest project to date, Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography, opens at the Chicago History Museum, the Center’s partner on the exhibition. The project reveals the humanity, heroism, and diversity of the Chicago railroad community whose work was instrumental to the war effort during World War II. In 1942, photographer Jack Delano was tasked by the federal government to capture images of the rail community to rally support for the war effort. The result was three thousand images, many of which highlight Chicago’s primacy to the North American rail network. The dignity of everyday work and the stories of individual railroaders and their descendants are explored in more than 60 photographs by Delano. The exhibition will be open at the Chicago History Museum through August 10, 2015.

See photographs from the April 4 preview reception for family members of the portrait subjects on our Facebook page.

To accompany the exhibition, the Center is publishing a lavishly-illustrated catalog with 108 images, 58 color and 50 black-and-white, 73 taken by Delano. Contemporary photographs of portrait subjects’ descendants and other family members were made by Pablo Delano, Jack Delano’s son, who teaches photography and art at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. The Center’s founder and past president, John Gruber, edited the catalog. Purchase the catalog and learn more about the exhibition on our website.

Buy Our Publications

The Center’s journal, Railroad Heritage®, and other publications fill a unique niche: using photographs and art to inform the public and rail enthusiasts alike about the influence of railroads on economic growth and development, popular culture, and the lives of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who built and maintain North America’s railroads. Excellent images and highly researched and thoughtful writing characterize our publications. We launched Railroad Heritage in 2000 and now publish four issues annually, which our members receive for free as a benefit of membership. You can purchase previous issues here or by printing and mailing the order form (pdf).

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Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography

Railroaders: Jack Delano's Homefront Photography

200-page, hardbound, 11- by 11.5-inch book published by the Center. Printed in the US, it features 108 photographs, including seventy-three of Jack Delano’s 1942–1943 views of Chicagoland railroads and their workers, reproduced in full color with rich quadtones for the black-and-whites. Contempoary photographs by Jack’s son, Pablo Delano, and the Center’s John Gruber and Scott Lothes complement the catalog. There are essays by Pablo Delano, Gruber, and University of Texas professor Jeremi Suri, a leading public historian. Biographical essays prepared by Center editorial consultant Jack Holzhueter as well as Gruber and Lothes tell the life stories of the forty-nine railroaders.

Ships in March 2014

$60, $50 for members of the Center, 200 pages, hardbound, color and b/w

Railroad Heritage 36: Kooistra, Gloff, Musical Theater

Railroad Heritage 35

The Spring 2014 issue begins with a cover feature on Blair Kooistra, a railroad photographer who is currently a BNSF Railway dispatcher and previously worked for twenty years in newspaper photojournalism. His work focuses on the American West from the 1970s to the present. Kevin P. Keefe, Center board member and vice president of publishing at Kalmbach Publishing Company, introduces the railroad art of George Gloff, who many know as a former art director of Trains magazine but who was also a talented painter of railroads. There is also an overview of railroad imagery in musical theater by Aviva Gellman, intern for the Center and a junior majoring in political science and theater at the University of Minnesota. You will also find information about the 2014 Conversations about Photography conference, the opening and the catalog for Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, and the list of our 2013 donors.

$7.95, 28 pages, color and b/w