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Philander Barclay Photograph Collection- Oak Park Public Library

Identifier: 2017-002

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of approximately 60 photographic prints and negatives.


  • Creation: 1880s-1910s

Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Philander Barclay, noted as the first village historian of Oak Park, was born in 1878 in Alma, Illinois. He moved with his family to Oak Park at the age of 12 in 1890, when his father opened a drug store called the Sign of the Golden Lion on Marion Street. The drug store soon served as a social center for the village of Oak Park. Meeting with all of the different citizens in the village at his father’s drug store inspired Philander Barclay to start his hobby of collecting and recording the history of Oak Park through photography. Barclay may have also gained an interest in history from his father, who collected old letters.

In 1898 Barclay learned how to repair bicycles, and later opened his own bicycle repair shop at 1112 North Boulevard at the Elsom Garage. He would use his earnings to fund his photography hobby. After his father’s death in 1902, Philander Barclay began taking photographs himself, and his first period of activity was from 1902-1906. He travled around Oak Park by bicycle, his 1899 Columbia, Model No. 49, logging over 4,000 miles in his lifetime, helping to earn him the nickname of "Bicycle Barclay."

Barclay's other contributions to Oak Park include the founding of the Borrowed Time Club (a club for septuagenarians), providing photographs and articles for the Oak Leaves, and organizing societies to help protect children. Barclay died in July 1940, at the age of 62.

Philander Barclay donated photographic prints and negatives to the Oak Park Public Library in June 1940, one month before his death. Barclay was aware of his role as an early documentarian and made his wishes for this photograph collection publically known.


2 Linear Feet


The Philander Barclay Photograph collection consists of approximately sixty photographs and negatives that Philander Barclay created and collected during his lifetime. He founded the Borrowed Time Club for Oak Park’s septuagenarians, organized a multitude of societies for protecting children, and ran a bicycle repair shop. The money he generated from his bicycle shop helped to finance his photographic collecting hobby. Barclay donated his collection of photographs to the Oak Park Public Library in June 1940, one month before his death.


The collection is comprised of two series: Photographic Prints and Negatives. The prints and negatives are arranged in their orignal numbered order. The numbering is assumed to have been done by Philander Barclay.


The collection was donated to the Oak Park Public Library in June 1940 by Philander Barclay. A portion of the collection was digitized in 2016 and is available via the Illinois Digital Archives:


“Historic Album” Oak Leaves 11/13/1903 p. 25; “Historical Pictures” Oak Leaves 10/22/1927 p. 104; Barclay, Philander, “When Horse Cars and Water Works Were Novelties Here,” Oak Leaves 2/29/1940 p. 50; Oak Leaves 6/6/1940 p. 39; Oak Leaves 7/11/1940 p.7; “Bicycle Barclay’s bike unveiled,” Oak Leaves 5/10/78-p. 64; “History of Oak Park His Hobby,” The Oak Parker 11/11/27 p. 88; “Hobby and Hobbyists,” The Oak Parker 4/19/35 p. 49; The Oak Parker 11/29/35 p.41

Processing Information

Prints rehoused into chemically inert plastic sleeves and archival binder. Negatives rehoused into acid free box and envelopes.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Oak Park Public Library Special Collections Repository

834 Lake Street
Oak Park IL 60301 USA