A.Z. Orstrom Song Plugger Cards Collection

Dates: 1906-1928
Size: .5 linear feet in 1 box
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Sulzer Regional Library, Northside Neighborhood History Collection, 4455 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625
Collection number: nnhc.azo
Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by A.Z. Orstrom
Conditions governing use: Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection
Conditions governing access: Materials are open without restrictions
Preferred citation:

When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is:

A.Z. Orstrom Song Plugger Cards Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Northside Neighborhood History Collection, Chicago Public Library

Finding aid author: Original author unknown. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Julie Lynch, 2022.


The A.Z. Orstrom Song Plugger Cards Collection contains approximately 86 song plugger cards. Song plugger cards contained an advertisement for a dance or picnic on the front and lyrics from popular songs on the back. The cards are generally 2-3 inches tall and 4-5 inches wide, come in a variety of colors, and sometimes contain small illustrations.


Albert Zakarias Orstrom was born in Chicago on January 20, 1893. According to the 1910 census, his father Zakarias and his mother Amanda were both born in Sweden. The 1910 census also lists his occupation as a toolmaker, although at the time he was just 17 years old and still living with his family, which included his parents and his younger siblings Arvid, Martin, and Lillian. By 1920 he was living with extended family on 46th street and listed his occupation as a machinist. In 1930, the census lists a 37 year-old Albert Orstrom living at a lodging house at 4521 Irving Park Road, and his occupation is once again listed as a toolmaker. He listed the same address on his World War II draft registration card, which he filled out in 1942, and also gave his employer's name as Ritholz Optical Co. He died in Chicago on January 18, 1982.

Scope and Contents

The approximately 86 cards in this collection range in date from 1906 to 1928. They advertise events including receptions, parties, picnics and boat excursions hosted by groups such as the Chicago Substitute Letter Carriers’ Association and the Chicago Cloakmakers Union. Some of the cards feature advertisements for dance halls. A few of the advertisements are written in Polish. All the of the cards feature song lyrics in English on the back of the card.


Cards are grouped in folders by the following date ranges: 1906-1909; 1910-1914; 1915-1919; 1920-1928.

Related Materials

Old Pops Sheet Music and Digital Collection

The University of Chicago holds the Song Plugger Cards Collection 1907-1940 which contain 55 cards from Chicago and other cities in Illinois and Indiana.

Subject Headings

  • Songs – Texts.
  • Community life – Illinois -- Chicago -- History – Sources.

Collection Inventory

Box 1 Folder 1 Song plugger cards 1906-1909
Box 1 Folder 2 Song plugger cards 1910-1914
Box 1 Folder 3 Song plugger cards 1915-1919
Box 1 Folder 4 Song plugger cards 1920-1928
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