Wallace Kirkland papers




University of Illinois at Chicago, Special Collections and University Archives Department at the Richard J. Daley Library


45.0 Linear feet




Kirkland, Wallace

Biographical note

Born on a coconut plantation in Jamaica, British West Indies, Wallace William Kirkland began his journey to becoming a social worker in 1913 when he entered the George Williams YMCA College in Chicago. He also secured a part time job working for the Boys Club at Hull-House. In 1922 Jane Addams invited the Kirklands to become residents at Hull-House. For the next fourteen years, through the prohibition era and into the depression, Kirkland worked with teenage boys who lived in neighborhoods near the Hull-House complex. Additionally in 1929 Kirkland was commissioned as a probation officer for the Juvenile Court. Kirkland and the boys began taking photographs of their surroundings, everything from the Hull-House athletic teams to the wild life at the Indiana Dunes. Kirkland's interest in the art of photography and his experiences photographing the people and activities of Hull-House as well as its surrounding neighborhoods gradually convinced him to leave social work and become a professional photographer. Kirkland retired from Life Magazine in 1956 at the age of sixty-five.

Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of photography, writing, correspondence, exhibit materials and family papers of Wallace William Kirkland. The majority of the material dates from the early 1920s to Kirkland's death in 1979. The collection contains material pertaining to Kirkland's work with the YMCA, his career as a social worker at Hull-House, and his career as a photojournalist with Life Magazine. Also included is material about the Kirkland family, and Wallace Kirkland's art work, art photography and unpublished short stories.

Processing Information note

This collection was surveyed as part of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium's Survey Initiative on 2009 November 25 by Lisa Calahan and Lauren Kalal.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The University Library purchased prints of the Hull-House related photographs from Wallace Kirkland in 1966. Between 1978 and 1992 Kirkland and his estate following his death, donated the negatives for these prints, the manuscript material and the non-Hull-House related photographic prints and negatives found in this collection. The remainder of Kirkland's papers were donated to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.