[1920 Company Photograph Album of the Inland Steel Company of Chicago].
Photograph album documenting the steel mill and personnel of the Chicago-based Inland Steel Company, founded in 1893 by Jewish-American industrialists Joseph Block and his son Philip D. Block.
The album was created during Philip D. Block’s tenure as company president and depicts the company’s Indiana Harbor, Indiana plant which included both open-hearth and blast furnaces. The album’s 39 mounted photographs comprise portrait photographs of company or steel mill officers as well as “occupational” photographs of various mill employees.
These latter images show men posing in their work areas and/or with their work equipment. For example, there are chemists in their lab, a shop workman holding a gauge and talking to a supervisor holding papers, a security guard at his post, the company doctors and nurse with a patient, the company fireman in his fully-equipped firetruck, a worker at a stationary engine, a clerical worker signing checks with a multi-pen machine, etc.
In 1902, the company expanded its operations with the construction of a new steel mill complex in East Chicago, Indiana, giving it improved access to Lake Michigan and rail shipping lines. “By 1910, the Indiana Harbor facility had about 2,600 workers; by 1917, annual output passed one million tons. During the 1920s, when Inland made about 2 percent of all the steel produced in the United States, its workforce grew to about 7,000 people.”¹
The album’s posed portrait photographs of workers in industrial settings are especially attractive, forming an artfully composed document.
Description: [1920 Company Photograph Album of the Inland Steel Company of Chicago].
[Chicago, 1920]. ff. Commercial Photograph Album. 11¼ x 15½ inches. Flexible leather covers with metal post binding; gilt titling on upper cover. 39 photographs, each approx. 9½ x 7½ inches, mounted on rectos; images oriented both horizontally and vertically. Some wear to covers at edges and to lower corner of upper cover; very good with clean, crisp images.
Note. 1. Inland Steel Co. [Encyclopedia of Chicago] accessed online. Ref. Inland Steel History [Northwest Indiana Steel Heritage Project] accessed online.
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