Very early in my writing process, I came across this photo during a research session at the Chicago History Museum:
The photo seemed to capture perfectly the dynamic between three of my main characters. I made a copy of the photo and tacked it up above my writing desk. Then years later, decided it would be cool to incorporate it into the novel. Then a little while after that, I decided to make it a major plot point.
However, I didn’t anticipate that securing copyright of the photo would be as complicated as it has turned out to be. I requested permission from the Chicago History Museum to use the photo, but the Museum told me that they could not grant official permission. Their Rights & Reproductions office sent me the following note:
The image you requested is one in which the Chicago History Museum does not hold the copyright. CHM charges a one-time fee to access the high-resolution TIFF file, but the museum does not charge additional permission fees to use the image….
Unfortunately, the museum cannot grant permission to use the image. You will have to conduct your own risk analysis to determine if you would like to use the image in publication.
So it became clear to me that the best way to secure permission to use the photo was to track down the photographer who took it.
When & Where the Photo Was Taken
The photo was included in a five-box collection of papers and photographic prints donated to the Chicago History Museum by the Chicago Seed (an alternative newspaper of the late-sixties/early-seventies) in 1979. It was found in a folder titled “1968, April: Riots, West Side and Armory March.” On the back of the photo, someone has written “1968 Apr. 27–May 4. Parade and Rally for Freedom.” The “4/27” date written in red on the back of the photo corresponds to a march that was held on that day in Chicago. Protestors marched to Daley Plaza, where they were attacked by police.
The photo was taken at the old Band Shell in Grant Park, near the intersection of Michigan and Roosevelt. You see that dramatic building in the background? That’s the old Chicago Central Station.
It’s since been torn down, but at the time it was located at the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt, on the far south end of Grant Park.
Here’s another view, taken during the ’68 DNC Convention Week, by Tom England:
Notice the same buildings in the background. This was almost certainly taken from the hill that leads up to the Ulysses S. Grant statue, across the street from the Conrad Hilton Hotel. Here’s another view, by photographer Jo Freeman:
But the angle in my photo is different, taken farther east than these shots.
After going back into the Chicago History Museum archives, I found another photo obviously taken at the same rally and probably taken by the same photographer. In this photo, I believe you can see the young woman with the round glasses on the edge of the image; I’ve put a red circle around her (this is more clear when looking at the actual thing rather than my low-rez image here):
You can see that the photo was taken from a stage. The only stage that was set up for speakers at the time was the old Grant Park Band Shell. You can see from this 1960 aerial shot that it has to be the band shell, given the placement of Central Station (which appears here in the lower right corner):
Also, here’s a reverse image of the Band Shell. Notice the towers to the side of the stage and the flagpole, which are all visible in the panoramic shot:
So it seems pretty clear to me that we’re looking for a photographer who was shooting from the stage of the Grant Park Band Shell on April 27, 1968, before the crowd moved on to Daley Plaza.
Here’s the back of the photo:
Along with the Museum’s catalog info, someone has written the date the photo was taken and “SF Coop” on the back of the photo. According to Tom England, who was a photographer shooting in Chicago in 1968, this was a photo cooperative active at the time:
The Seed was part of a loose network of “underground” publications and photos were pretty widely shared among them, with very little regard to copyright since that was counter to the ethos of the counterculture. This is just a guess, but “SF Coop” may have been a group which helped distribute images, perhaps based in San Francisco.
Several other photographers and historians also guessed that “SF Coop” was a San Francisco news and photography cooperative, but nobody I’ve contacted knows anybody associated with such a group.
As for the copyright status of Co-op photos, England said that it was a common practice for cooperative photographers to ask that publishers give credit to the cooperative rather than individuals:
The practice then was that those of us shooting for the alternate press would make prints & then find people about to travel to other cities who could pass the images along. Out of a sense of the Collective, we often asked that photos be credited to the network, rather than to an individual.
Chicago photographer Linn Ehrlich suggested the lack of a photographer’s byline means that he/she was probably international:
Possibly a european photographer as a lot of those images were never published here
(These quotes from England & Ehrlich are from email conversations we’ve been having.)
On the back of the panoramic photo I discovered, you’ll find this:
“Cipa” refers to a group called Citizens for Independent Political Action, which was active in Chicago at the time. The group was founded by C. Clark Kissinger, who incidentally was the same guy who organized the April 27 rally. However, Kissinger said he wasn’t familiar with either photo, but suggested I contact a Lowen Berman, who was the unofficial photographer for CIPA.
I contacted Berman, who verified that he photographed for CIPA but did not take this photo:
CIPA was The 49th Ward Citizens for Independent Political Action. I was a member and eventually the ED. We were formed out of a city wide CIPA meeting but I think our local neighborhood group was the only one that actually formed and stayed. We had many projects including a neighborhood newspaper (the RogerSpark), a teen coffee house, peace and civil rights actions in the neighborhood (eg a march and war bond turn it) speakers including Dr Spock and Dick Gregory, films shown on the beach at night and in neighborhood locations, etc. We also participated in a city wide activist coaltion and ran candidates for local and state office. … we had our own little print shop which were used to print our own community newspaper all I could think of is that it came from that shop
So tracing the “ownership” of the photo, here’s my best educated guess about its provenance: The photo was taken by our mystery photographer on behalf of Citizens for Independent Political Action (or perhaps later given to them), which then donated the photo to the San Francisco Cooperative photo collective, which then donated the photo to the Chicago Seed newspaper, which then donated it to the Chicago History Museum.
Donation to Museum
The folks at the Rights department at the Museum tell me that sometimes when someone donates materials to the Museum, they also hand over copyright. That might have happened here, but, alas, the paperwork has gone missing. There’s no information about who donated the Chicago Seed collection to the Museum in 1979. The Museum’s Rights & Reproductions office told me this:
Unfortunately, the museum does not have any contact information for anyone who might know the copyright holder. In the catalog record, the donor of the collection is listed as the Chicago Seed and the publisher is the Chicago Seed Publishing Company.… Unfortunately, we do not have any more information about the Chicago Seed manuscript collection either. There is a folder in the archives and manuscripts authority file for the Chicago Seed collection, but all that exists there is a copy of the catalog record.
Right now, I have no idea who might have donated the materials.
The Photo In Film
The photograph appears, uncredited, in a ten-minute documentary film called APRIL 27, done for Newsreel. The film was made in 1968 by Kurt Heyl, Jon Jost, and Peter Kuttner. I’ve contacted all three of them and none can remember where the photo came from. Kuttner verified the connection with CIPA:
They published a newspaper – The rogerSPARK.
Clark Kissinger was involved with CIPA as well as with the planning of the April 27 event.
He was hired by Women for Peace to coordinate it
He may have been the voice-over in the film other than Jon.
And we probably used CIPA photos if they had them.
Marilyn Katz, who helped organize the April 27 rally, also suggested Clark Kissinger would have been involved:
At least one group did gather in Grant park as a gathering point and march to the plaza…I’m sure it was Clark Kissinger who took the Grant Park photos (he has a lot of photo credits during those years)
But when I again asked Kissinger if any of this sounded familiar, he said no: “Sorry, but I don’t know anything about the photo.”
Photos from the Collection in Print
In 2009, the Grant Park Music Festival published a book about the history of the festival called Sounds of Chicago’s Lakefront. Though the book does not use my photo specifically, it does use photos from the same collection my photo comes from. These photos are credited simply to “Chicago History Museum.”
Things of Interest
Here’s a pic from Getty showing the Conrad Hilton Hotel on the night demonstrators & protestors clashed. You can see the ground floor Haymarket Bar.
And here’s a great photographic gallery of Chicago 1968.
I’ve gone through every photograph in the five-box collection where my photo was found, written down every byline, and contacted every photographer I could locate. Here’s a running tally of everyone I’ve been in contact with:
C. Clark Kissinger
Abe Peck, former editor of the Chicago Seed.
Todd Gitlin, former SDS president
Andrew S. Baer, Northwestern PhD student in history who put together the History Museum’s online 1968 gallery.