Current Members

Member Institutions

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Chicago History Museum

CHM collects materials about the city’s multicultural history and engages the public. Black collections strengths at CHM include the African American Police League Records, the Chicago Housing Authority Development Records, the Olivet Baptist Church Records, and the Thing Magazine Records. CHM’s Abakanowicz Research Center is open by appointment on Tuesdays through Fridays from 12:00pm-3:30pm. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, automatic doors, wheelchair-accessible toilets, voice descriptions for images and videos, sign language interpretation, and the “Touch Tours of Chicago: Crossroads of America” which are available by appointment only. Learn more about this repository here.

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Chicago Public Library - Harold Washington Library

Harold Washington Library’s Special Collections contains materials related to Chicago, the Civil War, and Mayor Harold Washington. Black collections strengths at Harold Washington include the Harold Washington Archives Collection, the Jubilee Showcase Gospel Music Video Collection, and the Kuumba Theater Company Collection. Harold Washington Library's Special Collection Division is currently open by appointment on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 12:00pm-4:00pm. Learn more about this repository here.

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Chicago Public Library - Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection

Woodson Regional Library houses the Vivian G. Harsh Collection, the largest African American history and literature collection in the Midwest. Collection strengths at Harsh include the Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago Records, the International Society of Sons and Daughters of Slave Ancestry Records, and the Chester Commodore Papers. The Harsh Research Collection is currently available by appointment on Mondays through Thursdays from 10:00am-7:00pm and Saturdays from 10:00am-4:00pm. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, automatic doors, low-height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and braille on signage. Learn more about this repository here.

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Chicago State University

Chicago State University Library’s Archives and Special Collections preserves the historical record of the University. Black collection strengths at CSU include the Margaret Smith Papers, the Steven Balkin Maxwell Street Chicago Collection, and the R. Eugene Pincham and Alzata C. Pincham Collection. CSU’s Archives and Special Collections are currently closed. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, automatic doors, low height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables, quiet study areas with lighting adjustments, wheelchair-accessible toilets, braille on signage, and electric compact shelving. Learn more about this repository here.

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Columbia College Chicago

CCC’s Archives and Special Collections documents and shares materials related to the College. The College Archives manages the Center for Black Music Research collections, which include materials of organizations like the National Association for Negro Musicians, of individual composers and musicians, and of pioneering scholars like Eileen Southern. The College Archives has materials relevant to the African diaspora and Chicago’s Anti-Apartheid Movement. Columbia’s Archives and the CBMR are currently open by appointment to College students, faculty, and staff only. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, automatic doors, low height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables, wheelchair-accessible toilets, braille on signage, and sign language interpretation. Learn more about this repository here.

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Cook County Archives and Records Office

The Cook County Historic Archives and Records Office (CARO) mission is to compile the history of Cook County Government and explain the role the County plays in the growth and development of the region, state, and nation. CARO documents the significance of each County agency, providing a greater understanding for County residents and employees of each agency’s role in County government. CARO’s goal is to develop a robust archives center, activate collections by highlighting Cook County Government records and community-based archival materials, and engage residents through public programs. CARO is committed to strengthening relationships between the government and the people, and to engaging the Community by providing the platform to share, preserve and contribute their stories to overarching historical narratives. CARO is currently closed to the public for in-person visits, though they are slated to open for patron visits in the future. CARO is committed to providing access to rich historical archival materials that explain the role of the growth and development of Cook County. CARO welcomes inquiries and offers remote reference services to which inquiries can be directed to cookcountyarchives@cookcountyil.gov. Learn more about this repository here.

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DePaul University

DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives collects, preserves, and shares materials that support the University. Black collection strengths at DePaul include the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence records, the Islam in America Collection, and the Chicago Great Lakes Underground Press Collection. DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives are currently closed. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, automatic doors, low height counters and wheelchair accessible research tables, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and braille on signage. Learn more about this repository here.

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Dominican University

Dominican University's Archives and Special Collections is responsible for the collection, organization, description, preservation, and access to records of the University and its community. Collections surveyed by the BMRC include the Multicultural Affairs Records and the Photograph Collection. Dominican University’s Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment for University students, faculty, and staff on Mondays through Fridays. Accessibility options at this repository include ramps, elevators, automatic doors, quiet study areas with lighting adjustments, and wheelchair-accessible toilets. Learn more about this repository here.

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Illinois Institute of Technology

IIT’s University Archives and Special Collections collects, preserves, stores, and provides access to the university’s records and collections. Strengths in IIT’S collections include materials related to the Institute’s predecessors and the South Side Planning Commission. IIT’S University Archives and Special Collections is currently closed. Accessibility options at this repository include ramps, elevators, automatic doors, low height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and braille on signage. Learn more about this repository here.

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Loyola University Chicago

More information coming soon!

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Newberry Library

Newberry Library is an independent research library that collects, preserves, and makes accessible 15,000 linear feet of historic materials. Black collection strengths at the Newberry include the Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection, the Pullman Railroad Employment Records, and the Illinois Writers’ Project Papers, that are related to Arna Bontemps. Newberry Library’s reading rooms are open by appointment on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:00am-1:00pm and 1:30pm-4:00pm. Appointments must be requested at least 5 business days in advance, and it is not guaranteed that all requests will be approved. However, effective July 20, appointments will no longer be required and walk-ins will be allowed. Please see Newberry's website, linked at the end of this blurb, for more information. Accessibility options at this repository include ramps, elevators, automatic doors, quiet study areas with lighting adjustments, wheelchair-accessible toilets, braille on signage, and enlargers for fine print books. Learn more about this repository here.

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North Park University

The F. M. Johnson Archives and Special Collections preserves the history and tells the story of North Park University, the Evangelical Covenant Church, and Swedish-American experiences in the Chicagoland area. Black collection materials at this repository include records from NPU’s Office of Diversity, multiethnic ministries of the ECC, and materials about local Black communities. The Johnson Archives and Special Collections is currently open to researchers by appointment Mondays through Fridays from 9:30am-5:00pm. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, automatic doors, low-height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables, quiet study areas with lighting adjustments, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and braille on signage. Learn more about this repository here.

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Northwestern University

Northwestern's Archives houses and provides access to records, publications, and photographs related to its history. The McCormick Library of Special Collections has materials related to Ronald Fair, Richard Wright, Amiri Baraka, and Ira Aldridge. The Herskovits Library of African Studies has a large collection of papers, photographs, and posters covering topics like the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the African Studies Association. Northwestern’s libraries are currently open by appointment Wednesdays from 12:00pm-3:00pm, Thursdays from 10:00am-1:00pm, and Fridays from 12:00pm-3:00pm. Accessibility options at this repository include ramps, elevators, automatic doors, quiet study areas with lighting adjustments, wheelchair-accessible toilets, braille on signage, closed-captioning for videos, and text-to-voice software. More accessibility information can be found here. Learn more about the McCormick Library here, and about the Herskovits Library here.

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Oak Park Public Library

Oak Park Public Library empowers its community’s voices and shares information, services, and opportunities for Oak Park’s goals. The BMRC has not yet surveyed collections at this repository. A few of their Black collections include the Open Housing Movement Collection and the Harriette Gillem Robinet Collection. Contact Oak Park Public Library’s Special Collections and Archives directly for access to collections. Accessibility options at this repository include ramps, elevators, and wheelchair-accessible toilets. Learn more about this repository here.

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Rebuild Foundation

Rebuild Foundation prioritizes art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation by offering free arts programming, cultural amenities, and affordable housing, studio, and live-work spaces for Black people in Chicago. The Johnson Publishing Library, the Glass Lantern Slides Collection, the Frankie Knuckles Collection, and the Edward J. Williams Collections are available for research purposes only at the Stony Island Arts Bank. There are currently no finding aids for the collections. All of the Rebuild Foundation’s archival holdings are currently closed to researchers. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, low height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables, and wheelchair-accessible toilets. Learn more about this repository here.

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Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University’s Archives collects, preserves, exhibits, and provides access to materials holding the institutional memory of the University and its community. Black collection strengths at Roosevelt University Archives include the Frank Untermeyer Papers, the Dempsey Travis Papers, and the Christopher Robert Reed Papers. Contact Roosevelt University’s Archives directly for more information about accessing collections. Accessibility options at this repository include ramps, elevators, quiet study areas with lighting adjustments, and wheelchair-accessible toilets. Learn more about this repository here.

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Shorefront Legacy Center

Shorefront Legacy Center is responsible for the collection, preservation, and education of Black History in Chicago’s North Shore. Collection strengths at Shorefront include the Melvin Smith Collection, the NAACP Evanston Branch Records, and the Evanston Photographic Negative Collection. Shorefront Legacy Center is open by appointment on Saturdays from 10:00am-2:00pm. Learn more about this repository here.

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University of Chicago

The University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center is the repository for the University’s rare books, manuscripts, University Archives, and Chicago Jazz Archives. Black collection strengths at the SCRC include the Ida B. Wells Papers, the ACLU Illinois Records, the Hyde Park Historical Society Collection, and the Alton Abraham Collection of Sun Ra. The SCRC is currently open by appointment to University students, faculty, and staff only. Accessibility options at the SCRC include ramps, elevators, automatic doors, and low height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables. Learn more about this repository here.

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University of Illinois at Chicago

UIC’s Special Collections and University Archives supports, enhances, and collaborates with the rest of the University towards their goals for education, research, and service activities. Black collection strengths at UIC include the Chicago Urban League Records, the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club Records, and the Maxwell Street Exhibition Photographs. UIC’s Special Collections and University Archives are currently open by appointment on Wednesdays from 10:00am-2:00pm for University students, faculty, and staff only. Appointments must be requested at least 72 hours in advance. Accessibility options at this repository include elevators, automatic doors, low height counters and wheelchair-accessible research tables, wheelchair-accessible toilets, braille on signage, closed-captioning for videos, and text-to-voice software. Learn more about this repository here.