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Nancy Campbell Hays Memorials

March 15 2014. JPACers and others gathered to dedicate the bridge to the north end of Wooded Island as Nancy C. Hays Bridge. The naming was approved after a 45 day public comment period in January 2014. JPAC had formally submitted a request, backed by letters from organizations and officeholders and petitions signed by thousand. Pictures (including prints by photographer Nancy Hays), print and stories were shared-- and pictures taken in Nancy Hays tradition. Flowers were strewn. The Park District has put up a beautiful sign marking the Nancy C. Hays Bridge. In the spring repainting of the bridge is expected. To the naming petition (now closed). In 2013 a room in the fieldhouse, 6401 S. Stony Island, with the JPAC art/photo gallery and the PAC office was dedicated as the Nancy C. Hays Gallery.

Hyde Park Herald, March 19, 2014. By Lindsay Welbers

Hyde Park marked the end of a three-year struggle on Saturday when they gathered to rename the north bridge to the Wooded Island in Jackson Park after Nancy Hays.

Hays was a Herald photographer, parks advocate and social activist, who made her career in Hyde Park until her death in May 2007.

Hays friends and members of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, which she helped to found, gathered at the bridge Saturday afternoon.

The Chicago Park District renamed the bridge after Hays last January. Signage went up earlier this month.

Hays came to Hyde Park in 1961, after a tour of Europe photographing refugee camps. Shortly thereafter she began advocating for the parks. When then-Mayor Richard J. Daley had plans to add more baseball diamonds to Farmer Field (now Kenwood Park) than the community had requested, Hays marched and began petitions to stop the plan.

In 1963 the city wanted to widen Lake Shore Drive, a plan that would have diverted the highway through Jackson Park. Hays was arrested for tying signage to tres protesting the destruction of the park. The city backed [...] down [and] Hays would call that arrest the proudest moment of her career.

The north side of the Nancy C. Hays Memorial Bridge faces the Museum of Science and Industry and looks out on where Daley had planned to divert Lake Shore Drive. "The bridge would have been gone had she not stopped it," said Louise McCurry, president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council.

Presented in remembrance by Jackson Park Advisory Council and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

Biography of Nancy Campbell Hays from her Memorial Service 2007

Nancy Campbell Hays, 84, passed away on May 31, 2007. Upon learning of her death, former alderman Leon M. Despres commented, "She was Hyde Park's photographer, a champion of the parks, and an extraordinary person." Through her last month, Nancy remained curious about and alert to happenings in Hyde Park and Chicago; friends were reading aloud to her from Despres' book Challenging the Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman's Memoir.

Nancy was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on May 26, 1923. An uncle taught her photography when she was twelve, and her father helped her build a darkroom in the family home. She began undergraduate studies in architecture at the University of Michigan. Her parents hoped she would complete her studies there, but she headed instead to the School of Modern Photography in New York City. In 1948, at the age of 25, she was sent by the American Friends Service Committee on a year-long assignment to postwar Europe and the Middle East as a volunteer photographer.

During the 1950s, Nancy established herself as a professional photographer using Campbell Hays as her professional name. She worked through the Monkmeyer Press Photo Service in New York City until the agency closed in 2001. Many of her photographs were used to illustrate school textbooks and the Weekly Reader, distributed to schools across the country.

Nancy moved to Chicago in 1958 and found her life-long home in the Hyde Park-Kenwood community. She did advertising layout and photography for the Hyde Park Co-op and undertook weekly assignments for the Hyde Park Herald, including extensive coverage of children and post-urban renewal Hyde Park. Every year for almost four decades she supported and photographed the 57th Street Art Fair, the Hyde Park Garden Fair, the July 4th parade and picnic on 53rd Street along with countless school and community events.

Beginning in the 1960s, Nancy became deeply involved in saving trees and safeguarding the lakefront and parks. She joined the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference as a member of the Parks Committee and, in 1965, helped form the Daniel Burnham Committee to protest the city's plans to put a freeway and feeder route through Jackson Park. Every Sunday the group tied strips of sheeting around the many trees that would be sacrificed for the road; for this the group was arrested. Her name is associated with all the subsequent struggles to preserve and protect Jackson Park and Burnham Park: the dismantling of the Nike bases, the protection of Wooded Island, the preservation of the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion, the rehabilitation of the lagoons, and the preservation of the limestone revetment at Promontory Point.

She was instrumental in founding Friends of the Parks in 1975 and served on its board for three decades. She was one of the founders of the Jackson Park Advisory Council in 1983 and served in some capacity with the council ever since its founding, notably as its president from 1999 until her death. Nancy has been recognized for her achievements numerous times including by the Chicago Audubon Society in 1997 and the South East Chicago Commission in 2002.

She bequeathed the entire body of her photographic work--prints, slides, and negatives that span fifty years--and related documentation to the archives of the Hyde Park Historical Society. The collection is stored at the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library. "Nancy was one of Hyde Park's great and caring human beings and a superb photographer. Her work will have meaning to generations of people to come." (Stephen A. Treffman, HPHS Board Member and Archivist Emeritus)

Contributions to support the archiving of the Nancy Hays papers may be made to the University of Chicago Library. Please mark contributions to indicate that they are for the Nancy Hays Memorial Fund and send to: special Collections Research center, University of Chicago Library, 1100 E. 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637.

Contributions may also be made in Nancy's name to Friends of the Parks, 55 E. Washington, Suite 1911, Chicago, Illinois 60602.

Statement from the Hyde Park Historical Society sale of Nancy Campbell Hays art photos to support digitalizing of the HPHS archives at Regenstein Special Collections, University of Chicago Libraries. December, 2008

Nancy Campbell Hays, Photographer and Conservationist

Nancy Campbell Hays, who passed away on May 31, 2007, lived in Hyde Park for more than 40 years. Every day of her life she worked toward her goal of a safer, saner community where people of all racial and cultural backgrounds could live, work, and play together in harmony and peace. with quiet by unwavering determination, Nancy sought to preserve parks, natural areas, and wildlife. Her efforts caught the eye of the community and, sometimes begrudgingly, the eye of officials of the City of Chicago. In the mid-1960s, she worked successfully to prevent the City from building a major expressway across Jackson Park. Although a committed tree-hugger who claimed "to know every tree in Hyde Park by its first name," she insisted that the City develop a plan for removing trees ravaged by Dutch elm disease. She helped found Friends of the Parks and the Jackson Park Advisory Council.

Nancy's artistry was manifest in her outstanding photographs of trees, plants, wildlife, ponds and lagoons, and children. Nancy grew up in Ann Arbor, where her parents urge her to attend the School of Architecture of the University of Michigan. She decided instead to head east to the School of Modern Photography in New York City. After working as a volunteer photographer in Europe and the Middle East after WWII, she came to Hyde Park to do free-lance work for the Hyde Park Herald and other community ventures and institutions. Nancy was a member of Artisans 21 and an exhibitor at the annual 57gh Street Art Fair, selling many of her prized nature-inspired pictures.

As someone who was devote to the Hyde Park Historical Society, Nancy left her entire photographic legacy to the Society when she passed away. Most of her photographic materials are now part of the archives of the Society which is housed in the Special Collections Research Center at the Regenstein Library of The University of Chicago. The remaining photographs which se lovingly printed, matted, and framed herself are now being offered for sale to support cataloguing the Society's archives under the supervision of the HPHS archivist, Michal Safar, and the Archives Committee.

Nancy Hays left an indelible mark on Hyde Park and the hearts of all who knew her.


Notice about Nancy Hays in the June 6, 2007 Hyde Park Herald

Nancy Hays, longtime nature advocate and former Hyde Park Herald photographer, passed away March 31 of unknown causes. She was in her 80s.

Hays served as the president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council. Ross Petersen, JPAC vice president, remembers Hays as versatile in her passions. "She was a remarkable woman," Petersen said. "[she was a] Herald photographer, Hyde Park advocate [and] observer of nature. Her long history [is] of not just park advisory but something of an urban activist."

Hays grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich. and instead of studying architecture at the University of Michigan like her parents wanted, she traveled to the School of Modern Photography in New York City, according to the Winter 2006 issue of the Conference Reporter by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. She arrived in Hyde Park as a free-lance photographer in the 1960s.

Hays became involved in the start of the Friends of the Parks in 1975 and dedicated herself to park conservation.

As continued in the June 13 issue:

Nancy Campbell Hays, longtime nature advocate and former Hyde Park Herald photographer, passed away May 31. She was 84. Hays led a remarkable life as a nature steward for the Hyde Park area. She left a notable impression on people who knew her.

"What an extraordinary person; I am really going to miss her," said Stephanie Franklin, a friend who worked with Hays on many park-related issues.

"She collected thousands of books; she loved to play Scrabble," said Ted Hays, her nephew. "She was a little bit radical in the environmental side of life. She was quite amazing."

Born on May 31, 1923 in Ann Arbor, Mich., Hays began taking photographs when she was 12 years old. After moving to Chicago in 1958, she published her first picture in the Hyde Park Herald in 1962. In a 1997 letter to the Chicago Audubon Society, Hays wrote about her experiences with the Herald. "My first photograph to appear in the Hyde Park Herald was of the threatened trees in Kenwood Park," she wrote. "Many of my pictures concern park issues, as well as other environmental issues." Hays won an award from the Audubon Society in 1997 for her environmental reporting.

Along with her free-lance photography, Hays served as president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council. She also became involved in the start of the Friends of the Parks in 1975 and dedicated herself to park conservation.

Hays often times took on the Chicago Park District in both saving trees from highway projects and cutting down sick and dead trees in Hyde Park. She wrote that a high point in her life was getting arrested in 1965 for tying ribbons around threatened trees, in protest of plans to build a highway behind the Museum of Science and Industry.

Ross Petersen, JPAC vice president, remembers Hay as versatile in her passions. "[She was a] Herald photographer, Hyde Park advocate [and] observer of nature," Petersen said."Her long history [is] of not just park advisory but something of an urban activist."

Hays is survived by her sister-in-law, Frances Lukens Hays; and her brother's children: Frances Blackiston Hays; James Griffith Hays IV; Edward Lukens Hays; Charles Campbell Hays. A memorial service will be held at St. Paul and the Redeemer Church, 4945 S. Dorchester AVe., on June 23 at 11 a.m.

A note about her care for her work and the meaning of that work:

In the early years with the Herald, she stamped the back of the proofs "Nancy Campbell Hays, Photographer." Later, she stamped them "A Nancy Hays Photograph." In her work with the Herald, she had three main complaints, Publisher Bruce Sagan said in his eulogy: the infamous stairs, failure to attribute, and poor quality of newsprint reproduction. Sagan said that while her photographic emphasis was on documentary or advocacy/evidentiary work, she recognized the artistry of it. Others said she had a way of concentrating and waiting for the right moment so she caught the meaning and context of the instant and occasion while the works in themselves had life, interest and integrity. Leon Despres said her body of work and memory would endure and be revisited again and again as a record of what Hyde Park was like and how the changes were lived through during her era. Others added that her work shed a light on one community that welcomed people of all kind. Still others remarked on the importance and success of her quiet but doggedly determined advocacy and the subtle nuances of her stances--her love and bond with nature had ample room for love of and care for people. And, she was often ahead of the wave.

Notice about Nancy Hays in the Chicago Tribune, June 19, 2007. Section 4 page 5

Nancy Campbell Hays. 1923-2007. Took photos, saved trees. Longtime Hyde Park resident whose work was staple at neighborhood newspaper fought to protect public land on the South Side

By Trevor Jensen

Nancy Campbell Hays documented life in Hyde Park with her camera for almost 50 years and, as an environmentalist and founding member of Friends of the Parks, fought to save Jackson Park, Promontory Point and other South side landmarks.

Ms. Hays, 84, died Thursday, May 31, at Warren Barr Pavilion, said her niece, Frances Blakiston Hays. She had suffered from diabetes and congestive heart failure. A free spirit who grew up in a conservative household in Ann Arbor, Mich., Ms. Hays settled in Hyde Park in 1958 and quickly found herself at home in the liberal bastion of the South Side, her niece said.

In the mid-1960s, Ms. Hays was part of a group fighting a roadway that would have cut through Jackson Park and destroyed much of the land and a number of old trees.

She later documented what she considered the city's inept efforts to combat Dutch elm disease, and took an inventory of 1,000 trees in the neighborhood that needed removal to prevent its spread, according to an interview she did for the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Reporter.

She was rarely seen without a camera around her neck, and her photographs were a staple of the Hyde Park Herald.

"Everybody knew her. She was just really out there all the time," said Nancy Baum, a member of the board of directors of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.

Work by Ms. Hays and others paved the way for the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance, signed by Mayor Richard J. Daley in the early 1970s and still the underpinning for efforts to preserve public space along the lake, said Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Parks.

Ms. Hays was a founding member of Friends of the Parks in 1975 and was an active board member for about 30 years, Tranter said.

"She was very much of a tenacious fighter," Tranter said. "She did it quietly, but so persuasively that what she was trying to prevent, or get approved, occurred."

An uncle introduced Ms. Hays to photography when she was 12. Her father was an architect and she started her studies in that field at the University of Michigan, but after a short time went to New York to study photography. In 1948, she spent a year in Europe and the Middle East documenting the postwar landscape, her niece said.

She started her photography career in New York, initially under the name Campbell Hays--presumably to disguise her gender, her niece said--before moving to Chicago. She specialized in photographing children, and her work appeared regularly in textbooks and the Weekly Reader, her niece said.

She also took photographs of trees endangered by development and other subjects that bolstered her arguments for preservation. "Photography was a tool in her environmental advocacy work," her niece said.

Many of Ms. Hays' photos have been donated to the Hyde Park Historical Society, and are stored at the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library.

Other survivors included her sister-in-law, Frances Lukens Hays; and three nephews, James Griffith Hays IV, Edward Lukens Hays and Charles Campbell Hays.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul and the Redeemer Church, 4945 S. Dorchester Ave., with a reception there afterward.

[Note, it is unclear whether her father was an architect.]

For more on Nancy visit a profile by Nancy Baum from the March 2006 Conference Reporter. www.hydepark.org/hpkccnews/profilesshouldknow.htm.


Letter from former colleague Marylou Stauffer Hadditt

Ms. Hadditt worked for the Herald 1952-1963.

I write because my heart is at Nancy's memorial service although my body remains in Northern California. She has been dear in my life for a long period of time, the years that we worked together on the Herald and those times we managed to keep connections across the continent.

I first met Nancy in late 1960, when Farmer's Field was threatened with destruction. She'd heard that my husband was involved with architectural conservation and that I was a staff member of the Herald. I was home with a brand new baby, living across the street on Dorchester Avenue from Nancy. She visited us. I clearly remember a perfect scale model of Farmer's filed with all its beautiful trees in place. Then she very carefully picked up each of the trees so one could see how desolate the park would look without them. I think if one were to go back to that period of Herald issue, they would see Nancy's scale model on the front page.

She was a lover of trees, parks, open space and people. We took a lot of photos together over at the Co-op and she had a knack of disappearing so no one knew she wa shooting. She produced a remarkable archive of expressive, warm and loving photographs. She was meticulous with her work. She also did studio work of Co-op merchandise always watching for a dent in a can or a ton label. If she were photographing fresh fruits or veggies, she kept them in her fridge until time to put them under lights. Then she'd shoot with a camera in one hand and a water spray in th other. Her dining room was her studio. Once she even built a scaffold so she could shot down from the ceiling on to the full length of products on the table. She was industrious and so truly principled in everything she did.

Nancy's photos WERE the Herald for a long, long time. I believe they would make quite an extraordinary pictorial history of HydePark; its school, its parks, its demolition, its building up, its children, and its racial composition. She captured Hyde Park--not just bits of pieces of one neighborhood or another--she captured all of Hyde Park on film. From my 3,000 mile distance, I can only hope that her archive is there for posterity.

This item wasn't in the obit but in 1962 or 1963, the Herald won t he prestigious Illinois Press Association award for a photograph Nancy took. Early one morning the editor got a call that a golden eagle was in a back yard on Ellis Avenue. Nancy rushed over to take a prize-wining photograph.

One very personal bit, when my son Steve was about nine he became interested in photography. Nancy mentored him, teaching him rudiments of design, dark room protocols, etc. When I told now 57-year-old Steve that Nancy has passed on, his response, "She taught me everything I use today in photography. She was one fine lady."

God Bless you Nancy Campbell Hays for all you have brought into the lives of so many of us who love you. May your journey be holy and a blessed one.


From Friends of the Parks Advocate, Summer 2007
In Memoriam: Nancy Campbell Hays 1923-2007

Nancy Campbell Hays helped found Friends of the Parks in 1975. Her strong involvement in prk advocacy started in the 1960s when the city proposed a highway through Jackson Park. Nancy and other advocates tied themselves to trees marked for removal. They marched with signs during the morning and evening rush hours and alerted a large number of citizens of the proposed destruction of Jackson park. Her protest and strong advocacy led the city and Mayor Richard J. Daley to hire the firm of Johnson, Johnson and Roy to develop the Lakefront Plan of Chicago, completed in 1972. The Lakefront Plan of Chicago subsequently led to the city's approval of the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance. Nancy once wrote that t he high point in her life was getting arrested in 1965 for tying yellow ribbons around the threatened trees in protest of the highway construction plan.

As a Friends of the Parks board member, she worked in her quiet, soft spoken way to continuously promote a green agenda including restoring Jackson Park, planting trees, and ensuring sound management practices for the natural areas in the city's parks. Nancy remained active in the Jackson Park Advisory?Council for two decades and served as its president until her death.

As a professional photographer, Nancy worked for several publications including the Hyde Park Herald. The first of he photos the Herald published showed threatened trees in Kenwood Park. She won award from the Audubon Society in 1997 for her environmental reports.

Nancy remained on Friends of the Park 's Board through early 2007, at which time she joined our Advisory Board. she died on May 31, 2007 at the age of 84. We will miss her.

A Hyde Parker You Should Know: Nancy Hays

From the Winter, 2006 HPKCC Conference Reporter. by Nancy Baum

Nancy Hays has photographed nearly every corner of Hyde Park and Kenwood over the last forty-odd years: mostly its parks, but also its people. Hyde Park owes a great debt to Nancy Hays for her efforts to save the parks from destruction by would-be improvements.

She originally came from Ann Arbor, Michigan where her parents hoped she would complete her studies at the University of Michigan School of Architecture, but she headed instead to the School of Modern Photography in New York City.

In 1949 she was sent by the American Friends Service Committee on a trip to post-war Europe and the Middle East as a volunteer photographer. Eventually making her way to Hyde Park in the sixties Nancy began working as a free-lance photographer.

She has been involved with Friends of the Parks from day 1 in 1975 when many parks formed advisory councils. In 1983, when Charles Harper was appointed by the park district to organize Jackson Park Advisory Council, Nancy became his right hand.

One of Nancy’s most effective pictures is of a cottonwood tree in Farmer’s Field (49th and Dorchester). She first became aware of it when she learned that the Park District wanted to put four baseball diamonds in that park, when the community had only asked for two. When Nancy went to the park to see what was going on, she looked at the blueprint and realized that this huge cottonwood tree would be in the baseball infield! This was the start of her education on saving trees. Thanks largely to Nancy, this huge tree still stands.

Speaking of saving trees, in the mid sixties, a plan to widen Lake Shore Drive and Cornell Drive and put in a raised highway south of the Museum in Jackson Park threatened the lives of many trees, not to mention cut the park in half. A group of Hyde Parkers, including Bill and Norah Erickson and Marian Despres, calling themselves the Daniel Burnham Committee, , protested by tying ribbons, made from old sheets around the trees. Every Sunday they did this and on Monday the ribbons would be torn down by the authorities who said that an ordinance against tying things around trees was designed to prevent damage to trees! Finally, several people were arrested and taken away in police wagons. Marshall Patner, the group’s attorney, was called in, and after several hours, bail money was accepted. In court, when a police sergeant testified that he had seen everyone in that group tying ribbons around the trees, Marshall Patner argued that he Hyde Parkers had done what the ordinance was designed to do, namely, save trees. He argued furthermore that it was a form of free speech. The case took over a year to resolve and the group was not allowed to band trees during this time. Eventually the road across the park was stopped.

Over the years Nancy’s name has become synonymous with saving trees, but she claims that her knowledge of trees is very limited. But during the Dutch elm disease crisis, it was her experience fighting the ineptitude of the City’s department of forestry that moved her to take on a new cause: removal of sick and dead trees. One day an elm tree on Drexel fell down and damaged a parked car. Nancy was sent by the Herald to photograph the incident. In the photo there was another tree on the block that was obviously in need of removal. The City removed the fallen tree, but never inspected the rest of the trees on the block to see what might need removal. This seemed to be a pattern: to only cut down the one tree someone reported. When Nancy complained, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference gave her the job of listing the hundreds of trees in need of removal, which she did.

She counted one thousand trees. The list was sent to Forestry, but no action was taken. So the list was sent to the downtown newspapers. One of the Tribune’s new editors had just published a small article on the subject of trees based on an interview with Forestry saying that all was well with Chicago’ trees. When the same editor saw Nancy’s list he realized that someone was lying. (In Evanston, meanwhile, trees were being cut early enough to save other trees, but not Chicago. It was as if there were corpses standing allover the city.) At about this time, because a University of Chicago administrator had been trying for years to have the trees on the Orthogenic School side of the Midway cut down, the Tribune asked Nancy to photograph them as well as the healthy ones on the other side of the Midway to show the contrast. Then the Tribune published a huge article about the problem. Suddenly, to everyone’s amazement the Orthogenic trees were cut down. The Sun-Times also got involved. Eventually the tree removal project was completed citywide and many new trees were planted. (In a coda to this story, the City Council, complaining that Forestry couldn’t possibly take on this job, hired a professional tree cutting company, driving the cost figures way up. The City forestry head defended the cost saying the trees were bigger than in the past!)

Nancy is convinced that because of her reporting the City was keeping a close eye on any trees in Nancy’s vicinity: one day at Ellis and 48th near where Nancy lived at the time, and where there was only one tree on the street, she found a note pinned to that one tree directing street crews to go to another address to continue their tree cutting.

Nancy’s other early activities in Jackson Park included getting church picnic-goers to sign petitions against the Park District’s fencing off the then-picnic grounds for a golf driving range, after the Nike bases were removed . Another was working with Ann Fennessy and Fran Vandervoort on getting a signal light at 57th and South Shore Drive; another was working with Ann to get the Park District to clean up the 57th Street beach in 1970’s. Nancy also had battles with the Museum of Science and Industry over expansion, including a proposal to build an above-ground garage between Cornell Drive and Stony Island Avenue.

In a recent effort, the Jackson Park Advisory Council worked on saving the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion and having its balcony dedicated to Eric Hatchett, who worked hard for restoration and reactivation of the facility but died before completion. Eric had a number of media contacts based in the Woodlawn area who helped him publicize the need for restoration.

It is easy to see how we have reaped the benefits of Nancy’s conservation activities. Nancy says that the future of the city’s parks depends on the local park councils. We should all take heed!