dontate now

Join Email List

Facebook  Become a Fan on Facebook
twitter  Follow Us on Twitter

329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

Search Collections

Margaret Conneely Collection

Bookmark and Share
Collection Identifier: C.2005-01
Intellectual organization and arrangement: This collection is split into four series. Series I, Conneely Films, comprises the footage shot by Margaret Conneely. It is split into two sub-series: her films made with amateur cinema clubs and those made for her job as a medical photographer. Series II, Non-Conneely Films, is split into two sub-series: amateur film productions and commercially produced films. Series III contains films whose creators have not yet been determined. Series IV includes papers, photos, and ephemera created and collected by Conneely.
Preservation Sponsor: National Film Preservation Foundation
Extent of collection
1 reel of 35mm film totaling 235 feet; 375 reels of 16mm film totaling 14757 feet; 3 reels of 8mm film totaling 750 feet; 22 reels of Super 8 film totaling 6176 feet; 6 reels of 1/4 audiotape totaling 1850 feet; 1 3/4 inch videotape cassette; 2 1/2 inch VHS videotapes cassettes; 3 15x13 inch boxes of papers, photos, magazines and books; 1 15x13 inch box with awards; 4 photo albums containing photographs and clippings.
Inclusive Dates
1902 - 2007
Bulk Dates
1949 - 1982
The Margaret Conneely Collection contains the films and papers of Margaret Conneely, a prolific and respected Chicago amateur filmmaker. The collection includes medical films she made as a cinematographer for Loyola University, story films she made with other local hobbyists and professional filmmakers, films made by other amateur filmmakers, such as Carl Frazier and Nora Rafferty, and commercial films that she collected. Four of her films have been preserved by the National Film Preservation Foundation and the New York Women in Film & Television sponsored Women's Film Preservation Fund. The papers include a wealth of correspondence between Conneely and other amateur filmmakers, documents and publications from amateur film and photography associations, as well as photographs of Conneely and other filmmakers.
The Margaret Conneely Collection contains the films and papers created and gathered by a Chicago area amateur filmmaker. This combination of movies and related documents offers an in-depth portrait of both the artistic production and organizational structures of a mid-twentieth century art form and social institution: amateur photography and film clubs. The narrative short films by Margaret Conneely and other amateur filmmakers in this collection provide a humorous and unique insight into middle class married life in America from the late 1940s through the 1970s. The papers and photographs document a vibrant if under recognized social and creative movement that crossed between the worlds of amateur and professional filmmaking.

The collection is split into three series:

SERIES I: Films by Margaret Conneely (Scenario Films, Medical Films & Home Movies)
SERIES II: Collected Films (Amateur & Professional Films)
SERIES III: Ephemera 

SERIES I​ contains the films made by Margaret Conneely. The series includes Conneely’s work with amateur clubs from Chicago including Central Cinematographers and the Metro Movie Club. The films are fanciful looks at family life as women’s rights and the first stirrings of the sexual revolution complicated by traditional expectations of wifely duties. Highlights include The 45, Chicago: The City to See in ’63, 13 Tokens, The Fairy Princess, and Mr. E. Also included in the series is footage of girl's school basketball games, boy scouts meetings, and behind the scenes looks at amateur film club event as well as medical films that Conneely made as the staff cinematographer at Loyola Medical University. These films include footage of surgical procedures, medical testing on animals, and documentaries that follows the daily life of medical students.

SERIES II gathers together the films that Conneely collected from other filmmakers. Subseries I: Collected Amateur Films holds the work of amateur filmmakers including those associated with Conneely in Chicago and work from other clubs that she traded films with. The films include narrative shorts, travelogues to Cuba and Europe, and footage of birds. Subseries II: Collected Professional Films consists of commercially available films that Conneely collected such as works by Harold Lloyd, newsreels, Laurel and Hardy shorts, and educational films by Castle Films and Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

SERIES III contains the papers, photos, and ephemera of Margaret Conneely. The papers include personal correspondence with other amateur filmmakers; articles written by Conneely; flyers, member lists and other organizational documents of Chicago area amateur film clubs; clippings of articles on amateur cinema and photography; schedules and flyers for amateur photography conventions; newsletters and magazine published by amateur film clubs; obituaries of amateur filmmakers; program notes for film screenings; and magazines and books dealing with home movies and filmmaking. The photographs record numerous amateur film club events and conventions taken by a number of photographers. The ephemera are the awards and trophies Conneely won for her films.

Working Filmography:
  • Safari (1949)
  • The Panhandler (c. 1949)
  • The Thing (1950)
  • Christmas Daze (1951)
  • Wanted- A Grandmother (1951)
  • So Long Ago (1952)
  • Halloween Fun (c. 1952)
  • Circus Capers (1953)
  • Good Witch's Party (1953)
  • The Mass in Miniature (1954)
  • Saga of the First and Last (1954)
  • Her Heart's Desire (1955)
  • Making Christmas Tree Ornaments (c. 1955)
  • The Fairy Princess (1956)
  • Fowl Play (1956)
  • Fiber Glass Canoe (1957)
  • Naturelore (1957)
  • Swimming (1958)
  • Boating (1958)
  • Petticoat Surgeon (1958-1962)
  • Basketball Tournaments (1959)
  • Mister E (1959)
  • Judy and Her Cousin's Hats (c. 1959)
  • The Bachelor and the Baby (1960)
  • The Gun (c. 1961)
  • The 45 (1961)
  • The Card Game (1962)
  • Chicago: City To See in '63 (1962)
  • Murder (1962)
  • The Switch (1962)
  • Freddie, the Freshman (1963)
  • The Gift (1964)
  • New Horizons (1964)
  • The World of Ying Ming (1965)
  • A Christmas Tale (1965)
  • Games for Married Men (1960s)
  • Getting on Aboard (1960s)
Conneely, Margaret (was created by)
Chicago movie-maker Margaret Conneely (1915–2007) was active in amateur filmmaking both locally and internationally for nearly half a century. She is best known as a producer and director of scenario films, film competition judge and as an exhibitor.


In 1949 Conneely joined the Metro Movie Club, an amateur film club based in River Park and Chicago, Illinois. She was also a member of the Chicago Cinema Club and the Glenview Moviemakers and was an active member of the Chicago Area Camera Club Association, the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and the Amateur Cinema League. While a member of PSA, Conneely served as organizer and chairman of the PSA's first International Competition (1952-1953) as well as chairman and secretary for the PSA Motion Picture Division and chairman of the 1963 PSA National Convention Committee.


In the 1950s, Margaret’s films won awards from major amateur contests in both America and Europe. In 1956, her film The Fairy Princess (1956) won the International PSA Harris Tuttle Trophy for Best Family Film. By the 1960s Conneely had become a highly regarded film competition judge, attending amateur film festivals around the world. Conneely judged competitions for the PSA, Chicago Area Camera Club Association, Institute of Amateur Cinematographers and local film clubs. Conneely also wrote articles on amateur film that appeared in local club newsletters, the PSA journal, Panorama Magazine, Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Additionally, Conneely presented and took part in lectures, demonstrations and programs in the 1950s and 1960s to further the art of motion picture making. She presented at Chicago-area camera clubs and at conventions for the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers and PSA.


Margaret later went on to become the director and chief photographer of medical photography and illustration at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.
Custodial History
This collection contains films and paper created and collected by Margaret Conneely over a sixty year period. She gifted them to Chicago Film Archives in a series of donations over the fall and winter of 2004-2005.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Chicago Film Archives holds the copyright for the films and documents created by Margaret Conneely. For the films, photos, and additional paper materials published by others, any determination of copyright status for reproduction is the responsibility of the user.
Related Materials
Additional Metro Movie Club films and Amateur Film Club films can be found in John & Marilyn Sanner Collection at Chicago Film Archives. Other Amateur film clubs can also be found in the Ron Doerring Collection and J. Gerald Hooper Collection at Chicago Film Archives.