- Bulk, 1911-1914 (Creation)
- Bulk, 1911-1914 1907-1933 (Creation)
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Jesse Lowe Smith (1869-1934) was an educator and naturalist who served as Superintendent of Schools for District 107 and the principal of the Elm Place School in Highland Park, Illinois from 1902 until his death. A devoted, progressive pedagogue, Smith fostered a love and understanding of the natural world, the arts and culture in students during his tenure at Elm Place School. Smith served on the Highland Park Public Library board, as director of the North Shore Arts League, and as President of the Chicago chapter of the National Geographic Society. Additional civic activities included appointments on the Highland Park Tree and Parkway Commission, the Audubon Society of Chicago (Director) and Friends of Our Native Landscape (Director). He was an avid traveler in the United States and abroad.
Jesse Lowe Smith was born in Macon Illinois on November 23, 1869. From a young age, Smith expressed an avid interest in nature and learning. Smith attended DePauw University for one year in 1891 and received his teaching certificate in 1894 at the age of 25. After teaching at several different schools in Illinois including Lexington and Park Ridge, Smith became the principal of the Elm Place School in Highland Park Illinois in 1902 as well as the Superintendent of Schools for District 107. Smith held those posts for 32 years until his death on April 21, 1934 at the age of 65. Jesse Lowe Smith devoted his life to teaching and sharing his knowledge and love of nature with students. He was a proponent of progressive education including the use of the latest technology at the time, such as the lantern slides in this collection, and also by incorporating nature and the arts into the curriculum by including field trips into nature and to museums and cultural institutions. Jesse Lowe Smith was active on the Library board, and director of the North Shore Art League, and as well as president of the Chicago chapter of the National Geographic Society for which he led an expedition to Montana.
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The Jesse Lowe Smith Image Collection was created by Jesse Lowe Smith, who was principal of the Elm Place School and Superintendant of Schools in Highland Park, Illinois for 32 years until his death in 1934. Smith took the bulk of the photographs himself specifically for educational purposes . Smith had a life-long interest in nature, culture and the arts. Smith promoted an innovative and progressive educational style by including nature expeditions and theatrical productions as part of Elm Place School’s curriculum. The collection consists of 3”x4” glass slides and 5”x7” glass photographs and negative plates which either were taken by Jesse Lowe Smith himself, or which he purchased from a Highland Park photographer, E.E. Paratt or from the Nichol’s Slide Company (a provider of educational slides). Some of the slides are hand-colored by Charlotte Pinkerton, an artist who at the time worked in Chicago. The slides collection range from 1907 to 1933 with the bulk being from 1911 to 1914. The bulk of the images are botanical in nature, focusing on plant studies, trees, and flowers and include landscape scenes. There are also images of Elm Place School including classrooms and artwork exhibited in the school, some class photos of students and teachers, the outside of the school, and theatrical productions of a play and operetta. The collection includes travel photographs from trips Smith took to Montana, the Pacific Northwest, and abroad. There are also slides of song lyrics, flags and history lessons. Thus far, the following series are created: Botanical slides; Travel photographs from Smith’s travels abroad, notably India, but also Europe; and a third series for Lincolniana of photographs relating to Abraham Lincoln.
There is a second collection of botanical slides from Elm Place School currently in the possession of the Park District of Highland Park which exhibited them in 1995. There may be overlap between the two collections.
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