Color Curtain Processing Project

The BMRC’s Color Curtain Processing Project: Unveiling the Archives of Chicago’s Black Metropolis was made possible through an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The project processed over 10,000 linear feet of BMRC members primary resource collections related to African American history and created EAD* finding aids for these collections.

Through this award, the BMRC expanded intellectual control and arrangement of unprocessed collections discovered during our Andrew W. Mellon funded BMRC Survey Initiative, which operated from 2009-2011. The BMRC went beyond the accomplishments of the Survey Initiative by arranging and cataloging primary resources related to Chicago’s African American heritage. As this work was completed, a further objective of the Color Curtain Project was to structure a comprehensive recruitment tool for the archival profession. Undergraduate students seeking careers in history and archival science gained experience working in special collections repositories while processing African American related collections. Ultimately, six undergraduate students were involved with this program.

Collections from these institutions were included in the project:

  • Bronzeville Historical Society
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Chicago Public Library, Special Collections (at the Harold Washington Library Center)
  • Chicago Public Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection
  • Columbia College, Center for Black Music Research
  • DuSable Museum of African American History
  • Roosevelt University
  • Shorefront Legacy Center
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Library of Health Sciences
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Special Collections

*EAD is an acronym for "Encoded Archival Description," which is an archives standard for creating guides to collections as structured data documents which are useful for computer manipulation and online display.

Take a look at the Color Curtain Processing Project archived website >>

The project website for the Color Curtain Processing Project is slated to be de-activated around the end of the year. Don't worry! It has been included in the University of Chicago Library's new web archives collections. Check out the BMRC sites, and the University of Chicago Library sites (including UNCAP and Mapping the Stacks). You can view archived websites from your browser that capture the look and feel as well as the content of the previous live site.