Montgomery Ward and Company records

Inclusive Dates: 
Survey Repository: 

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

75 linear feet (171 boxes) of material and 12 original sound recordings comprising the corporate records of retail and mail order giant Montgomery Ward and Company. Included is material relating to the sculpture Spiral by Australian American artist Clement Meadmore, originally given to the Art Institute of Chicago by Montgomery Ward and Company, as well as items relating to the statue The Spirit of Progress that was placed atop the company’s 1928 Administration Building.

Biographical Historical Note

Montgomery Ward and Company, a major Chicago retail and mail order company, was founded in 1872 and ceased operation in 2000. The Spirit of Progress, an illuminated 16-foot-tall bronze sculpture that crowns the company’s 1928 Administration Building, is an adaption of an earlier sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens that at times topped both Madison Square Garden in New York and the Agriculture Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Spiral is a large sculpture by Australian American artist Clement Meadmore; a gift of Montgomery Ward and Company to the Art Institute of Chicago, it was later given to Governor’s State University in University Park, Illinois, where it has been installed in Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park.