Uncovering Chicago’s Historical Collections

This fall, faculty involved in the Chicago Quarter​ program, and those with an interest in the greater Chicago area, will have new resources available in the forms of a physical exhibit at the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center​ and an online resource that will streamline Chicago-related research queries.  These developments are thanks to the Chicago Collections Consortium (CCC), a partnership of libraries, museums, and other institutions with archives that collaborate to preserve and share the history and culture of the Chicago region.  DePaul is a founding and governing member.

DePaul has long embraced its connection to the city of Chicago, with “Chicago is our classroom, the world is our focus” emblazoned on the main university Web site, and the sentiment is both aspirationally and concretely expressed in Goal #2 of the Vision 2018 Strategic Plan, “Deepen the University’s Distinctive Connection to the Global City of Chicago.” The DePaul University Library and Special Collections and Archives actively support this goal, with collections, programming and partnerships.  The Chicago Collections Consortium is the latest and most significant of these ventures, which draws from the staff expertise, services and archival collections of its member institutions.

DePaul Special Collections and Archives​​, in cooperation with over 20 CCC archival and cultural heritage institution members​ in the greater Chicago area, has contributed to an exciting new exhibit to be hosted at the Harold Washington Library Center​, beginning August 7, 2015.  The exhibit highlights the variety and depth of research materials about Chicago, and demonstrates how topics and collections can intersect and that holdings are compleme​ntary across the various institutions.  Each member institution of the Chicago Collections Consortium suggested materials from its archival collection, and a team of exhibit curation and design professionals was tasked with selecting a sample of materials that would engage viewers and expose them to the stories and histories of Chicago.

DePaul Special Collections and Archives’s final selections include postcards from our Lincoln Park Ephemera​ collection that depict leisure time activities at Lincoln Park and Lincoln Park zoo at the turn of the 20th century; text and graphic materials from the Teresa Fraga papers​ that demonstrate community activism and the City of Chicago’s plan for the Pilsen Neighborhood; photographs from the Old Town Arts Fair in the 1950s; and a newsletter announcing Miss USA’s 1963 visit to Ford City, from the Harry Chaddick papers.

The exhibit will run from August 7, 2015, to November 15, 2015, and will be open to the public during the Harold Washington Library’s open hours.  The exhibit is just one example of the CCC’s work; there will be speakers and programming centered on the exhibit, as well as the roll out of an online portal providing a single access point to search members’ collections.  A combined reference service is already available, which ensures that people who don’t know where to start their Chicago research receive suggestions and connections to the member institution(s) most likely to be relevant to their search.

Stay tuned for announcements in the fall about the exhibit, speakers, programs and the research portal.  In the meantime, feel free to consult DePaul’s Chicago-centric collections*, and contact Special Collections and Archives at archives@depaul.edu or stop by our department in the John T. Richardson Library, Room 314.

*Chicago Collections 
Lincoln Park Collections 
Latino Collections
Theater and Music Collections
DePaul University Collections
Chicago Book Collections

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.