The Historic Quincy Area Photo Collection includes more than three thousand historical photographs covering more than a century of life in the Quincy area. The photographs have been digitized so that the images can be made available from Quincy Public Library’s website, and included in the Illinois Digital Archives.
The collection includes photographs primarily from 1850-1950, of people, businesses, churches, entertainment, government, homes, and street scenes. This project was made possible by a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, administered through a competitive grant program by the Illinois State Library.
The photo collection documents a growing city that played a significant role in Illinois history. Quincy was first settled by John Wood in 1821, and became the county seat when Adams County was formed in 1825. Quincy gave refuge to Mormons during the winter of 1838-1839, and local abolitionists helped slaves on the Underground Railroad.
Quincyans were among those forming the first paramilitary groups previous to the Civil War. Quincy Historical Club was established in 1840. In 1853, U.S. Congress designated Quincy as a port of entry for foreign goods, and by the late 1850s, nearly 3000 steamboats were delivering to Quincy’s riverfront. Quincy was the site of the sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate during the Senate race of 1858, which was attended by a crowd of more than 12,000 people. John Wood served as Governor of Illinois during the Civil War, and then returned to live and eventually to die in Quincy.
By 1870, Quincy had become the second largest city in Illinois with a population of 24,000. Many businesses and industries had their start in Quincy, and some continue to flourish there, though others eventually closed or were bought up by other companies. Collins Plow Company, Comstock-Castle Stove Company, E.M. Miller Carriage Company, Gardner Denver Incorporated, Gates Radio Company, Irwin Paper Company, and Moorman Manufacturing Company are among the well known names in Quincy.
Most of the photographs were collected by Carl Landrum, a Quincy historian, throughout his lifetime. Copies of the photographs are also available for browsing in the Library’s Illinois Room. Quincy Public Library Reference Department staff members have indexed Mr. Landrum’s weekly columns, and also some of his books. His work, and the work of QPL staff, serves as an index to much of the historical record of Quincy, Illinois.