Beginning in 2009, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) initiated the Summer Short-Term Fellowship program for scholars and artists to undertake research in member archives throughout metropolitan Chicago. Thanks to support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the BMRC has welcomed 90 fellows over the course of nine summers whose multi-disciplinary research has resulted in significant advancement of scholarship and teaching on Black Chicago. As this phase of the program comes to a close in 2018, the Mellon Foundation has endorsed an edited volume to showcase fellows’ research as well as the archives they used. The following Call for Contributors seeks to bring together the work of select past BMRC fellows on the theme of New Histories of Black Chicago, representing the first – but not necessarily the last – such collaborative publication by the BMRC. The volume will be published in collaboration with University of Illinois Press.

New Histories of Black Chicago

For the better part of a century, scholars have studied the famed “Black Metropolis” and its histories, cultures, politics, economics, and social dynamics. Those studies have, in turn, intimately shaped our understandings not only of Chicago specifically, but more broadly of Black urban life in America. (As St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton noted in their 1945 classic Black Metropolis, “Understand Chicago’s Black Belt and you will understand the Black Belts of a dozen large American cities.”) In so doing, they have greatly enriched our understandings of American history and society as a whole. Generations of scholars have subsequently built on or departed from their sociological framework; these studies have resulted in robust complementary examinations and debates on racial formation (and class, gender and sexuality therein), culture, urbanity, inequality, protest politics, and more.

With this edited volume, we seek to continue in that rich tradition by collecting essays that uncover histories of Black Chicago, or that explore known parts of its history in new ways and from new perspectives. Studies may cover any range of thematic and chronological frameworks, provided that Black life in Chicago remains their central focus. The goal of this volume will be to capture a range of dynamic recent Chicago-based scholarship that will challenge and expand our understandings of the Black Metropolis (as experienced, felt, and imagined) and how this scholarship provides new angles to understand this past that also may reflect on the present.

The volume will showcase the work of alumni of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium’s Fellowship Program. Please note that contributing authors must have been a BMRC Fellow during the program’s duration (2009-2017), and that submitted essays must draw, at least in part, on research conducted in archives during their fellowship tenure.

Submission Details

By August 15, 2018, please submit an abstract of no more than 450 words summarizing the article you wish to include as an attachment to with “BMRC New Histories Abstract Submission” in the subject line.

Authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their article. Completed articles will be due in Fall 2018.

Completed articles

Length: Individual articles should be about 8,000 words, including notes.

Format: Submission must be a double-spaced Word document, with 1-inch margins, Times New Roman font. Chicago citation style required with in-text citations with references at end of paper. Archival collections should be clearly cited. Images found in BMRC Member Institution collections are preferred for submission; assistance with permissions for such images may be provided, if necessary.

Abstracts:  Invited contributors must also include a shorter abstract of no more than 250 words with final submission. Provide a list of 3-5 key terms.  Full affiliation and contact information for author should be listed as a footnote on the first page.

Initial Abstract Submission due date:  Tuesday, July 31 August 15, 2018 by 11:59pm CT

Email submissions and inquiries to:

BMRC Volume Editors

Dr. Simon Balto is an Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power, which is forthcoming with the University of North Carolina Press. Research for that book was supported by a 2012 BMRC Summer Fellowship, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and other sources. His research and writing has appeared in the Journal of African American History, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, TIME, The Washington Post, The Washington Spectator, The Progressive, and more.

Dr. Erik Gellman is Associate Professor of History and Associate Director of the St. Clair Drake Center for African and African American Studies at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is the author of Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights (UNC Press, 2012) and The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America (IL Press, 2011, coauthor Jarod Roll). Gellman has co-directed NEH and Terra Foundation programs on the Black Chicago Renaissance. Thanks to an NEH Public Scholar fellowship, he is in the process of writing his next book, Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay (University of Chicago Press). He has long been associated with the BMRC, most recently as Vice-Chair of the Board. In July, Gellman will become Associate Professor of History at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Ms. Andrea R. Jackson is the Executive Director of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium.  Prior to this role, she was the Head of the Archives Research Center at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, which serves the largest consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Jackson has implemented several successful grant projects on preservation, digitization, and broad accessibility of African American archives, and is co-author of the article, “Funding the Future of African American Religion Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library” in the Theological Librarianship Journal.