Funded through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, the BMRC Survey Initiative was a three year project intended to identify and assess irreplaceable primary resources of African American and African related archival materials. The BMRC accomplished this by adapting a survey methodology originally developed by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and implemented by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries.
Running from 2009 through 2011, this assessment sought to form an understanding of the state of African American primary source materials collections in Chicago that were inaccessible to researchers. This in turn allowed the BMRC to create a searchable database of collection-level records for use by researchers to discover African American and African related archival collections of Chicago. Also, through establishing a prioritization of preservation and access, and creating preliminary descriptions of these collections, the BMRC ascertained the access needs of its members and their collections. This information was shared with the housing institutions for their use, and for potential collection processing in the future. Ultimately, the information garnered from this survey served a critical need in establishing a foundation for the BMRC’s Color Curtain Processing Project.