NPR logo Photos: Christmas In Chicago, Circa 1920

Smithsonian: Behind The Scenes

Photos: Christmas In Chicago, Circa 1920

Santas in the 1920s weren't quite as cheery looking as today's robust and padded fellows! Just check out these pictures from Underwood & Underwood. The news photo distribution company covered its homebase of Chicago pretty well and captured the eager faces of kids with noses pressed to store windows eyeing toys as well as the good deeds of its citizens.

These Chicago photographs come from the Photographic History Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, where there are several thousand glass plate negatives covering a range of holiday, seasonal, sports, entertainment, news and general reportage from Chicago, New York City and a bit of San Francisco.


Shannon Thomas Perich is an associate curator of the Photographic History Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Her regular contributions to The Picture Show are pulled from the Smithsonian's archives.