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W. W. Embree Collection

Waite W. Embree and his father, Elmer E. Embree, preserved most of the historical materials generated by the family’s business and social activities, which the Regional History Center acquired in 1967. Waite, especially, was an avid collector of materials related to the history of DeKalb and the history of railroading. In the absence of an active county historical society, Waite Embree filled a void in DeKalb County with his keen interest in the preservation of the county’s past for many decades. Waite’s interests and foresight makes the Embree Collection one of the most unique in the Center with regard to the documentation of DeKalb and the local area through photographs and postcards. The collection is also particularly strong in the evolution of railroads during the first half of the twentieth century, with focus on those that operated in the Northern Illinois region.

Researchers should note that much of Embree’s postcard collection have been added to the Center’s postcard collection (RC 199), while his war poster collection has been added to the Oversize Collection (RC 200).

For more information about this collection, please see the Center's finding aid or contact

Cyclone Fence Co. Pleasant Street
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title Cyclone Fense Co, Pleasant Street [at 14th]; Place DeKalb, Ill; County DeKalb; Twp DeKalb; Date Nov. 19, 1956, DeKalb, Industrial, Place, Pleasant Street, Economic Development
East Yards, American Steel and Wire
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title American Steel & Wire Co., East Yards; Place DeKalb, Ill; County DeKalb; Twp DeKalb; Date 1920, DeKalb, Industrial, Place, Economic Development
Chicago and Northwestern, DeKalb, Illinois East Liincoln Highway Crossing Shanty
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Railroads, Crossing Shanty; C&NW; DeKalb, IL; East Lincoln Hwy; July 27, 1936; Replaced by color lights, Fall 1936; Royalty Flagman; Allen Royalty; Sp[ring] Valley Cross[ing]; Time 2:45 PM; Photo No. M50; NB 470; Neg. No. 2584, DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Lincoln Highway, Economic Development
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Waterman, Illinois Station
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, Waterman, Railroads, Photo No. M41; Road Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Place Waterman, Illinois; Time 12:20P; Date 10/22/36; Neg. No. 1516, DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Place, Economic Development
DeKalb Fire Department, Station #1, DeKalb, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title DeKalb Fire Department; Place Fire Station #1, North Fourth St, DeKalb, Ill; County DeKalb; Twp DeKalb; Date 1913; Ladder Wagon on left - Chemical Wagon on right. On Ladder Wagon: Wm. Wall, Phil Showalter; Standing: Mike McEvoy, Tom Jackson; On Chemical Wagon: Wm. Harmes, Tom Murray; Civilians not identified, DeKalb, Equipment, People, Place, Fourth Street, Economic Development
Illinois Central Railroad, Freeport, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, Freeport, Railroads, IC [Illinois Central] Engine No. 2421; Type 4-8-2; Freeport, IL; 6/15/41; Neg. No. 1805, Stephenson, Commercial/Business, Equipment, Place, Economic Development
Illinois Central and Chicago Great Western track cross Chicago, Burlingham and Quincy, East Dubuque, Illinois Tunnel
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, East Dubuque, Railroads, East Dubuque [Illinois] tunnel; IC [Illinois Central] & CGW [Chicago Great Western] cross CB&Q [Chicago, Burlington & Quincy] (double track); Neg. No. 2501, Jo Daviess, Place, Economic Development
Chicago and Northwestern, Malta, Illinois Building Passenger Station
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, Malta, Railroads, Photo No. M62; Gate Crossing Tower; Road C&NW; Place Malta, Ill; Date 7/11/37; Neg. No. 1292, DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Place, Economic Development
Chicago and Northwestern, DeKalb, Illinois Enginehouse
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Railroads, Engine No. 1299; Type 4-4-2; Class D; Road Chicago & Northwestern; Place DeKalb, Ill Enginehouse[Station at 6th St. crossing]; Train 25; Date June 19, 1939; A.C. Cobb photo, DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Equipment, Place, Sixth Street, Economic Development
Chicago and Northwestern, DeKalb, Illinois Station
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Railroads, Title Soldiers leaving for Spanish American War; Place C&NW [Chicago & Northwestern] Station, DeKalb [Illinois]; County DeKalb; Twp DeKalb; Date [1898]; Photo from R.B. Chandler. Original is a small card print., DeKalb, Equipment, People, Place, Economic Development
Great Western Hotel
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Great Western Hotel, 218 Oak Street, DeKalb, Illinois, 1896. Hotel kept by Mrs. J. Crawford; Copy photo by F.R. Ritzman, orig. R. Kool, DeKalb, Residential, Place, Oak Street, Economic Development
North Side Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title North Side Lincoln Highway 1st to 2nd St; Place DeKalb, Ill; County DeKalb; Twp DeKalb; Date May 1946. The DeKalb Daily Chronicle building [3 stories] and next to it, the Boardman-Boughton building., DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Place, Lincoln Highway, Economic Development
Chicago and Northwestern Railway, DeKalb, Illinois Station
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Railroads, Engine No. 126; Type 4-4-2; Class D; Road Chicago and Northwestern Ry; DeKalb, Illinois Station [at 6th St]; Train Clinton Chicago Local; Date April 25, 1938; Photo No. 1-534; Neg No. 257, DeKalb, Equipment, Place, Sixth Street, Economic Development
Northern Illinois State Normal School under Construction, DeKalb, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, The first building constructed for the Northern Illinois State Normal School, ca. 1898-1899. In October 1963 this building was renamed Altgeld Hall, and N.I.S.N.S. had become Northern Illinois University in 1957. Original is a small card print., DeKalb, Educational, Place, Education
Arch over Main Street, DeKalb, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title Main Street showing arch erected for industrial picnic or fair. Looking west from middle of 200 block; Place DeKalb, Illinois; County DeKalb; Date about 1890; Remarks Note the mud street; balconey on Glidden House (right); Copy by F.R. Ritzman; Original by Ohlesen, photographer; Original owned Chester Ohlesen. [1899 DeKalb City Directory and duplicate photo list photographer's name as Oleson] Arch reads, "Agriculture and Manufacture Hand-Maids in the World's Progress.", DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Place, Main Street, Economic Development
Chicago, Aurora and DeKalb, Maple Park, Illinois Station
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, Maple Park, Railroads, Interurban; Photo No. M31x; Road Chicago, Aurora & DeKalb; Place Maple Park, Ill Station; Date Nov. 1909; Remarks Rcd [recieved] 2/1935; CA&D trackage before electrification, Kane, Commercial/Business, Place, Economic Development
Chicago and Northwestern Railway, Hebron, Illinois Station
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, Hebron, Railroads, Structure: Station; Place: Hebron, Illinois; Road: Chicago and Northwestern Ry; Date: August 25, 1938; Remarks: Looking east along Kenosha Division tracks; [Original] Negative/Photo No. M78; [New] Neg. No. 1287, McHenry, Commercial/Business, Place, Economic Development
Northern Illinois State Normal School under construction, DeKalb, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title Northern Illinois State Normal School under construction; Place DeKalb, Illinois; County DeKalb; Date 1899; Copy photo by F.R. Ritzman; Original by A.W. Marvin; Original owned by A.W. Marvin, DeKalb, Educational, Place, Education
Main Street, DeKalb, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Photo taken during fire at H. H. Wagner Store [Dry Goods, 224 E. Main, DeKalb, Illinois] 1/27/1898, DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Equipment, People, Place, Lincoln Highway, Main Street, Economic Development
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Zearing, Illinois Station
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, Zearing, Railroads, CGW Station; Zearing, Ill; 8/16/49; Neg. No. 2493, Bureau, Place, Economic Development
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, Shabbona, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, Shabbona, Railroads, CB&Q [Chicago, Burlington & Quincy] 4-6-2; Shabbona, IL; 1914?; Photo No. 1-209X; Neg. No. 2549; Shabbona Gable, DeKalb, Equipment, Economic Development
Chicago and Northwestern, DeKalb, Illinois Freight House
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Railroads, CNW Frieght House [from 7th St. crossing]; October 6, 1941, Before tearing down; DeKalb, Il; 7.7.46, DeKalb, Commercial/Business, Place, Seventh Street, Economic Development
Fire Station No. 1, DeKalb, Illinois
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Fire Station No. 1, 124 N. 4th Street, DeKalb, Ill, ca. 1903-1912, DeKalb, Equipment, People, Place, Fourth Street, Economic Development
Creamery Packaging Co, shows
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title Interior [of] Creamery Pkg Co; Place Pleasant Street, DeKalb, Ill; County DeKalb; Twp DeKalb; Date 1901; Rowley Photo, DeKalb, Industrial, Place, Pleasant Street, Economic Development
American Steel and Wire Co, West Mill
Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Title American Steel & Wire Co., West Mill (Red Shops); Place Look West from 6th on Locust,[DeKalb]; County DeKalb; Date 1898; Note: AS&W Office in foreground, DeKalb, Industrial, Place, Locust Street, Sixth Street, Economic Development