Dempsey Travis papers

Descriptive Summary

Chicago History Museum
Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Dempsey Travis
Bib number
Dempsey Travis papers
7.5 linear feet (19 boxes)
Call number


This collection is open for research use.

Terms governing use

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise note.

Provenance statement

Gift of Dempsey Travis (accession #: M1976.0003).

Please cite this collection as

Dempsey J. Travis papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Collection Summary

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes, journals and magazines, legal documents, and other papers of Dempsey J. Travis, an African-American real estate developer, mortgage broker, author, and civil rights advocate. The collection largely consists of correspondence regarding the United Mortgage Brokers of America (UMBA), which Travis established and served as president (ca. 1961-1970). Also included are correspondence and administrative files of Sivart, Travis' mortgage company headquartered in Chicago's South Side, and materials on Travis' service on boards and commissions. Newspaper clippings, magazines, and other materials regarding real estate, urban development, economics, race relations and racial discrimination, civil rights, politics, and other topics are also present.

Biographical/historical note

Dempsey J. Travis was an African-American World War II veteran, real estate developer and mortgage broker, and author from Chicago. Travis founded the Travis Realty Company in 1949 and Sivart Mortgage Company in the early 1950s, which focused on revitalizing real estate in Chicago's South Side. "Sivart" is a reverse spelling of "Travis." In addition, Travis served two terms as president of the Dearborn Real Estate Board (1957-1958, 1966-67) and in 1961 founded the United Mortgage Brokers of America, a professional organization geared towards minority mortgage bankers. Travis was also president of the Chicago branch of the NAACP (1959-1960) and served on several presidential commissions on urban development and renewal during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. He wrote several books and commentaries, including "An Autobiography of Black Chicago" (1981) and "Real Estate is the Gold in Your Future" (1988). He also was a member of the board of trustees of Chicago Historical Society.

Related material

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include copies of several of Mr. Travis's publications and several interviews with him (cataloged separately).

Processing Note

Processed with funding provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Other Finding Aids

Finding aid also submitted to Explore Chicago Collections portal.

Indexed Terms

Organization and Arrangement of Collection

The collection is arranged in five series

Series 1. United Mortgage Brokers of America (UMBA) materials, 1961-1973 (box 1-6)

Series 1 contains correspondence, press kits, press releases, and other materials relating to the United Mortgage Brokers of America. The majority of the series consists of Travis' correspondences concerning the UMBA biannual conferences held in Washington D.C. Also present is correspondence with various political figures and organizations such as Jesse Jackson, the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development George Romney.

Series 2. Correspondence, 1949-1973 (box 7)

Series 2 contains professional correspondence of Dempsey Travis, including correspondence and notes regarding UMBA and Travis' publishing corporation, the Urban Research Press. Box 7 includes correspondence with noted figures such as Mayor Richard J. Daley, Jackie Kennedy, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, and the Executive Secretary of the NAACP, Roy Wilkins.

Series 3. Publications, 1957-1973 (box 8)

Series 3 contains magazines, journals, leaflets, brochures, and other publications on a variety of topics, including local issues, economics, real estate, mortgage banking, African-American culture, and politics.

Series 4. Newspaper clippings, 1955-1975 (box 9-15)

Series 4 contains newspaper clippings on various topics, including local politics, race relations, national and local economics, and mortgage and real estate. Also present are clippings regarding the professional activities of Dempsey Travis.

Series 5. Sivart materials, 1957-1977 (box 16-19)

Series 5 contains correspondence, notes, legal documents, financial and accounting records, and other administrative files of the Sivart Mortgage Company. Also present are meeting minutes of Sivart's executive board.

Detailed list of contents of the collection

Series 1: United Mortgage Brokers of America (UMBA) materials
Box 1-6
United Mortgage Brokers of America (UMBA) materials
Series 2: Correspondence
Box 7
Series 3: Publications
Box 8
Series 4: Newspaper clippings
Box 9-15
Newspaper clippings
Series 5: Sivart materials
Box 16-19
Sivart materials