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Sylvia Campbell Photograph Collection

Identifier: harsh-2008-04

Scope and Contents

These photographs document the aftermath of the unrest that took place on Chicago’s West Side week following Martin Luther King’s assassination. Most of the images are of the street and business damage on the near West Side of Chicago from 2700-4100 west on Madison Street. All the photographs were taken by Henry Campbell between April 5 and April 10, 1968.


  • Creation: 1968 April


Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection

Conditions Governing Use

Materials are open without restrictions

Biographical / Historical

Henry Campbell (1925-2002) was born and educated in Winona, Mississippi. He served in World War II and migrated to Chicago after his discharge. He was a member of the New Tabernacle Baptist Church first situated in Englewood and later in Roseland community. He worked and retired from United States Steel. He then began working at the Chicago Park District and opened his own photography shop at 3500 W. Madison Street. The shop was located in the middle of an area most affected by the rioting follow the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Once the shock wore off, cities across the nation exploded in violence. The West Side of Chicago and some pockets of the African American communities on the South Side erupted in marches and anger. African American youths marched in the Loop and toward Daley Center. Police were called to disperse the crowds, but within a short period as the marchers continued west, violence broke out. Windows were broken; businesses looted; and fires started. The National Guard arrived by mid-afternoon and federal troops were mobilized the next morning. It took more than 48 hours for the fires and violence to be contained. In the end, 9 people were killed, 300 hurt and more than 2,000 were arrested. Over 260 stores were destroyed along the Madison corridor. More than 50 years later, the West Side has not fully recovered. Campbell went out everyday to document the action and the destruction. His business was also destroyed and he chose not to rebuild.

His widow, Sylvia Campbell, found these photographs while cleaning out their home in 2007 and donated them to the archivist at the Harsh Research Collection.


1 Linear Feet (in 1 box, includes 36 photographs)

Language of Materials



This small collection of photographs consists of snapshots taken by Sylvia Campbell’s husband on Chicago’s West Side during the April 1968 riot following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr..


This collection consists of 36 photographs. The photographs are arranged in the original order of the donor.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Sylvia Campbell, 2008

Guide to the Sylvia Campbell Photograph Collection
Beverly Cook, April 2021
April 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection Repository

Woodson Regional Library
Chicago Public Library
9525 S. Halsted Street
Chicago IL 60628 United States
(312) 745-2080