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Chicago Sun-Times Collection

A guide to the Chicago Sun-Times Collection at the Chicago History Museum.

Chicago Sun-Times Collection FAQs



What can I find in the Chicago Sun-Times collection?

This collection consists of images produced by Chicago Sun-Times (CST) staff photographers from roughly 1940-2000. Most of the images date from 1960-2000 and have not been published. The collection is arranged in several series, including both analog and digital images.

The different series do not vary much in overall scope but were created as a way to manage the acquisition and processing of this large collection. Each series contains approximately 2.5 million images, both digital (JPG) and analog negatives (35 mm and medium format, in black-and-white and color.) With exceptions, Series 1 is made up of mostly undigitized material, while Series 2 is mostly digital. To access the original negatives from either series, visit the Undigitized Images page of the research guide.

How did the Chicago History Museum acquire the collection?

In 2009, CST sold its collection of over four million photo negatives to Rogers Photo Archive, a commercial photo-sales company in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Per the agreement, Rogers promised to provide the CST with a digitized and searchable image archive and in return, he was free to sell the physical negatives once digitized.

In 2017, following a number of legal challenges, Rogers’ assets, including the CST images, were turned over to the courts and auctioned off. The CST negatives and digital files produced by Rogers were shipped to Historic Images, a photo-sales company in Memphis, and then sold to a private dealer in Dixon, Illinois. In 2018, CHM purchased the collection and worked with the CST to obtain a non-exclusive license.

How much of the collection has been digitized?

CHM acquired roughly 2.5 million digital images (created by John Rogers and scanned from the negatives) and 2.5 million physical negatives.

We are assessing the second part of the collection, the physical negatives, and plan to select additional batches for digitization in the future. Due to the volume of the collection, CHM does not have plans to digitize all negatives, but will make them accessible to researchers.

How can I research the collection?

Digital images are available via links in the Sun-Times Airtable Inventories. Visit our research guide at to learn more.

To access original negatives which have not been digitized, visit the Undigitized Images page of the research guide.

Why isn’t the photographer’s name listed for every image?

Photographer information wasn’t consistently captured by previous owners of the collection during their digitization process. If an image was published in the newspaper, it is sometimes possible to find the photographer’s name credited there. However, if the original negatives were sold after digitization and not published in the newspaper, we have no direct way to track that information down again.

For the physical negatives in the collection, photographer information is usually recorded on the negative sleeve. Wherever possible, CHM staff will record this information and make it available in the collection’s inventories.

Are all CST images owned by CHM?

No. CHM owns a large portion of historic images produced by the Chicago Sun-Times between 1940- 2000. Prior owners of the collection sold off some of the negatives to private collectors. Contemporary Chicago Sun-Times images (roughly 2001-present) are owned by the Chicago Sun-Times.

How were the job image numbers assigned and why are there gaps? 

The eight-digit job numbers (e.g. ST-17100057-0001) and four-digit image numbers (e.g. ST-17100057-0001) were assigned by the previous owner, John Rogers, during his digitization process. It is CHM’s understanding that the numbers were assigned based on the scanning machine number and the arbitrary order in which the negatives strips were scanned. During processing, CHM renamed a portion of the job and image numbers due to number duplication and applied a consistent file naming convention. For future digitization, CHM will continue using this naming convention.  

CHM does not have information on Rogers’ selection process for digitization, nor an understanding of why there may be gaps in the job numbers. Gaps in the image numbers may exist because negative strips were occasionally found to have been filed in the wrong job envelope after digitization. The images were renamed with the correct job number, creating a gap in the image numbering for the original job. 




What if I want to license a more contemporary image from the Chicago Sun-Times?

Currently, CHM is the acting licensing agent for all Chicago Sun-Times images (historic and contemporary). Requests for licensing any CST images should also be sent to Please allow 3-5 business days for a response due to the high volume of emails received.

Can I get a higher resolution image than what is available online?

Sometimes. CHM can create higher-resolution digital files for those images with matching negatives in CHM’s collection, but if the originals were sold by the previous owner, we are limited to the resolution of the existing file.