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Jack O. Hedrich (b. 1927)

Dates of Interview:

June 1, 2, 7, 23, 1993

Location of Interview:

Hedrich-Blessing office in Chicago


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

180 pages
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Biographical Summary

Jack O. Hedrich was born in Chicago in 1927, the youngest of four sons in the Hedrich family. He attended Michigan State University, served in the military, and returned to study at the University of Missouri, graduating in 1949. His began a career in advertising and sales but in 1953 he was invited to join his brothers in the family photography firm, Hedrich-Blessing, where he worked for forty years before retiring in 1993. Jack was the business leader of Hedrich-Blessing and under his direction the firm prospered. Hedrich was elected an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter, in 1986, and was named to the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 1992.

Interview Highlights

Jack Hedrich speaks about his family background; his brothers Ken, Bill, and Ed Hedrich; Ken's approach to photography; stock photographs; growth and change at Hedrich-Blessing; the Signature Collection; the craft project; colleagues; the Research Village project; the Hedrich-Blessing archive at the Chicago Historical Society.

Interview Excerpt

"[Being a family firm] possibly held [Hedrich-Blessing] together through some pretty thin times... I know the time that I came close to leaving, I probably stayed because of being family. The all-for-one and one-for-all musketeers's attitude that the guys had probably was a part of it....That identity was in Ken, Ed, and Bill in the beginning, probably because of family ties. I doubt that anyone would have wanted to go into business with Ken when there wasn't very much business, hoping to build it together and maybe mortgaging some of his future for it. Would a young Bill Hedrich leave college and decide to take some of his college money and go into business with somebody as his assistant, carrying his lights and helping him set up, if it wasn't part of a family?" (p. 161)

Additional Resources

Hedrich-Blessing images in the R&B Archives
Related archival materials in the R&B Archives
Works related to Hedrich in the Department of Architecture and Design
Oral history of William C. Hedrich

Funding for this oral history was provided by The Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Historical Society.