• Identification00209171
  • TitleDescriptive inventory for the Art Shay photograph collection, 1944-2002
  • PublisherChicago Historical Society
  • Language
    • English.
    • English
  • RepositoryChicago History Museum Research Center 1601 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614-6038
  • OriginationArt Shay Chicago History Museum. Essential Art Shay (Exhibition)
  • Date1944-2002
  • Physical Description2 linear feet, including 144 images (6 boxes)
  • Location2007.0001 PPL

To purchase copies of this material, it is necessary to contact the photographer's estate.

This collection was purchased by the Chicago History Museum in 2006 (accession number: 2007.0001.1-144).

The collection includes a wide variety of images depicting people in Chicago neighborhoods (such as Maxwell Street Market and a skid row along Madison Street), celebrities in Chicago and elsewhere, entertainers, politicians, gamblers, prisoners, authors, and other cultural symbols. Many images qualify as Art Shay’s famous “one-liners,” in which one photograph combines unlikely and disparate elements and perhaps a caption to create multiple meanings within the same frame.

The photographic prints in this collection were made from original negatives (1948-2002) and selected in conjunction with: "The Essential Art Shay: Selected Photographs," a retrospective exhibition of works by Chicago photojournalist Art Shay at the Chicago History Museum in 2007. They are indentified by the accession number written on the back and by Mr. Shay's "A" number written on the back.

Professional photojournalist Arthur Shay was born in the Bronx in 1922 and showed an interest in photography at an early age. Using his father’s old folding Kodak, he made portraits of classmates at school (P.S. 77) and members of his Boy Scout troop by printing the snapshots in the basement coal bin of his family’s apartment building. Years later, after serving in World War II as a field navigator in the Air Force, Shay worked as a reporter for "Life" magazine in the San Francisco, California office. In 1948, shortly after "Life" relocated him to Chicago, Shay began working as a freelance photojournalist. His first effort involved a collaborative project documenting the life of Chicago author Nelson Algren. This project, which Shay pitched to "Life" magazine under the title “Poet of the Chicago Slums,” (unpublished) resulted in fifteen year collaboration between Shay and Algren. Shay soon found himself with a steady stream of clients, including "Life," "Time," "Sports Illustrated," "Parade," "Coronet," and others.

Related material at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, includes the Studs Terkel program, Interview with Art Shay [sound recording] in which Shay discusses his book, Nelson Algren's Chicago; the visual materials collection on Art Shay photographing Chicagoans Going Strong (2014.0024); and the Art Shay photograph collection for Chicagoans Going Strong exhibition (2014.0023).

  • Subject
    • Photojournalism--Illinois--Chicago--1940-2010--Exhibitions
    • Authors, American--Illinois--Chicago--1940-2010
    • Celebrities--Illinois--Chicago--1940-2010
    • Celebrities--United States--1940-2010
    • Courtrooms--Illinois--Chicago--1940-1969
    • Entertainers-United States--1940-2010
    • Gangsters--Illinois--Chicago--1940-1979
    • Guided missile bases--Illinois--Chicago--1970-1979
    • Photojournalists--Illinois--Chicago--1940-2010
    • Politicians--Illinois--Chicago--1940-1979
  • Names
    • Algren, Nelson, 1909-1981--Portraits
    • Ali, Muhammad,1942- --Portraits
    • Accardo, Anthony J – Portraits
    • Beauvoir, Simone de, 1908-1986--Portraits
    • Bellow, Saul--Portraits
    • Daley, Richard J., 1902-1976--Portraits
    • Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969--Portraits
    • Garland, Judy--Portraits
    • Graziano, Rocky--Portraits
    • Hefner, Hugh M. (Hugh Marston), 1926--Portraits
    • Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961--Portraits
    • Hoffa, James R. (James Riddle), 1913- --Portraits
    • Jackson, Mahalia, 1911-1972--Portraits
    • Johnson, Virginia--Portraits
    • Jones, James, 1921-1977--Portraits
    • Jones, Spike, 1911-1965--Portraits
    • Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963--Portraits
    • Kroc, Ray, 1902-1984--Portraits
    • Liberace, 1919-1987--Portraits
    • Mantle, Mickey, 1931-1995--Portraits
    • Marceau, Marcel, 1923-2007--Portraits
    • Maris, Roger, 1934-1985--Portraits
    • Masters, William H.--Portraits.
    • McCarthy, Joseph, 1908-1957--Portraits
    • Sinatra, Frank, 1915-1998--Portraits
    • Taylor, Elizabeth, 1932- --Portraits
    • Chicago History Museum--Essential Art Shay (Exhibition)
    • Maxwell Street Market (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Pacific Garden Mission (Chicago, Ill.)--Photographs
  • Geographic Coverage
    • Chicago (Ill.)--Social conditions--1940-2010
    • Near West Side (Chicago, Ill.)--Social conditions--1940-2010
    • Near North Side (Chicago, Ill.)--Social conditions--1940-2010

The collection is arranged in one series by format.

Series 1. Black-and-white photographic prints, 1948-2002 (6 boxes)

Black-and-white photographic prints depicting everyday scenes of life in the city and portraits of celebrities and other well-known people.