DePaul University Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce the complete organizational records of the Civic Federation through the 1990s are now available to researchers. The addition of 100 newly arranged and organized boxes of materials brings the overall extent to 194 boxes, measuring 88 linear feet. The collection represents the Civic Federation’s organizational history, operations, and topical studies. Recently added items relate to Chicago, Illinois, and U.S. government administration, employment, finance, taxes, and urban planning.
The Civic Federation began as a group of Chicago reformers representing educational, industrial, political, religious, and women’s concerns. British reformer and author William T. Snead’s 1893 observations regarding the condition of Chicago prompted the formation of the group, which included noted advocate Jane Addams. The group received its first charter in 1894 and focused on initiatives that addressed gambling, prostitution, corruption, clean streets, and sanitary food.
By 1910, the Civic Federation had shifted its efforts to monitoring how taxpayer money was spent. This emphasis on government structure, purpose, and efficiency eventually became the main function of the organization, an overseer role that the Civic Federation continues today. According to their website, the organization defines itself as “a non-partisan government research organization working to maximize the quality and cost-effectiveness of government services in the Chicago region and State of Illinois.”
The newly available Civic Federation materials cover a broad range of topics that are both unique and cross-referential within the collection. Examples of items include a 1990 report on gender bias in Illinois courts and a Chicago Commission on Human Relations pamphlet c. 1960s encouraging people to actively improve their neighborhoods along with local urban renewal efforts. These and other materials were used by the Civic Federation for research and reference while crafting government policy and budget recommendations for Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois.
The Civic Federation remains active in today’s Chicago and Illinois governmental activities. Visit their website to learn more about the organization’s current efforts. The Civic Federation records are available for viewing at DePaul Special Collections and Archives. A finding aid for this collection is available here, alongside other Chicago-centric collections. To learn more about DePaul’s Chicago collections, contact Special Collections and Archives at 773-325-7864, or firstname.lastname@example.org.