[ca. 1900] · [Chicago]
A copy of "Integral," the Illinois Institute of Technology yearbook for 1900, repurposed as a photo album and memorializing the domestic life of a close family group. Other scenes include a mixed-sex bathing party at the shore, in the heavy Edwardian-styled swimming costumes of the day; two young men frolicking and lounging around a gazebo in the manner of an Edward Gorey illustration; two young women, both dressed in men's heavy overalls and roughhousing or acting out a tableau; and portraits of new parents with their infant. A few mystifying poses most likely preserve some long-lost jokes, while others capture many moments of physical affection in an era not known for easy emotional display (in photographs).
Laid in are several newspaper clippings concerning members of the Ridenour family (presumably) pictured within; the latest dates from the 1920s, though the vast majority of photographs all appear to date from the early 1900s, with fashions not far ahead of those worn in those photos still visible from the yearbook itself. A small number of photos from ca. the 1910s show young men brandishing sledgehammers, part of the "Red Path Chautaqua Crew" for the traveling-circuit tent show.
Note that one photograph, towards the end of the album, shows two men, backs turned to the camera, wearing white robes with pointed hoods; one is decorated with the crude logo of a skull and two crossed flags or axes. It is possible that these figures are wearing the costume of new Freemason initiates rather than the KKK robes they resemble (the insignia resembles the Oddfellows skull-and-crossbones, and the Klan was not universally identified with such costumes until 1915 and after.) The identification is thus uncertain, but the iconography is nevertheless highly disturbing to a modern eye; and with its placement following page after page of harmonious domestic scenes, it serves as a reminder of the violent allegiances of some white Chicagoans in the period leading up to the city's anti-black riots of 1919. (Inventory #: 24106)