Chicago-Area Archives and Special Collections

Explore Chicago Collections is the online portal of Chicago Collections, a consortium of Chicago-area libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions with original source materials on Chicago history. The portal is growing to provide access to more than 100,000 maps, photos, and letters at member institutions.

Web sites with information on holdings and access at Chicago Collections consortium members and other selected Chicago-area repositories:

  • Adler Planetarium: Historical Collections
    Holdings of the History of Astronomy Department, including rare books and manuscripts; astronomical works of art on paper; and links to Web virtual exhibitions on the history of astronomy.
  • Archdiocese of Chicago: Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Archives & Records Center
    Official records of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, its agencies and programs; papers of cardinals, bishops, chancellors, and vicar general; sacramental registers, student, parish, and cemetery records; architectural drawings, maps, photographs, and paintings; sound, film, and video recordings.
  • Argonne National Laboratory
    History of Argonne National Laboratory, including Argonne timeline, articles on ANL's contributions to research and education, and listing of the "Chicago Pile 1 Pioneers" who were present at the first controlled nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago, December 2, 1942.
  • Art Institute of Chicago: Ryerson and Burnham Libraries
    Books, serials, and manuscript collections on all aspects of the arts, emphasizing 19th-century painting, prints, drawings, and decorative arts and 18th to 20th-century architecture. Collections of Chicago and Midwestern architects include original materials of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Daniel H. Burnham.
  • Art Institute of Chicago: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Special Collections
    Holdings inlcude the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection containing more than 3,000 artists' books and periodicals, the Roger Brown Study Collection, Film Study Collection, and Video Data Bank.
  • Benedictine University: University Archives and Special Collections
    University Archives and Special Collections documents and preserves the history of Benedictine University and its predecessors, St. Procopius College and Illinois Benedictine College. Includes rare books, mansucripts, and the papers of U.S. Congressman John Erlenborn.
  • Chicago Botanic Garden: Lenhardt Library
    Collections in the literature of horticulture and botany, with an emphasis on general gardening, Midwest ecology, plant conservation and horticultural therapy, and a rare book collection of several thousand volumes.
  • Chicago History Museum
    Collections emphasizing all aspects of Chicago history, including books, manuscripts, archives, architecture, decorative and industrial arts, costumes, paintings and sculpture, prints and photographs, and online exhibitions.
  • Chicago Public Library: Special Collections and Preservation Division
    Rare book and manuscript collections focusing on the Civil War, book arts, Chicago authors and publishing, Chicago neighborhood history, Chicago theater, and the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
  • Chicago Public Library: Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library
    Books, periodicals, bibliographies, microfilm, and manuscript collections documenting African-American history and literature in the Midwest, with special emphasis on Illinois and Chicago.
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Rosenthal Archives
    Audio-visual materials, programs, photographs, newspaper clippings, and administrative records documenting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Civic Orchestra, and Orchestra Hall and Symphony Center events.
  • Columbia College: Center for Black Music Research
    Collections of music in any style or genre composed by people of African descent, including European and European-derived concert-hall music by black composers, American music, African music, and Afro-Latin American or Afro-Caribbean music. Holdings include books, dissertations, printed music, manuscript scores, recordings, and vertical file materials.
  • Columbia College: Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts
    Interdisplinary center containing galleries, papermaking studio, bindery, letterpress studio, and computer lab dedicated to innovation in the arts for book artists, papermakers, printers, designers, and calligraphers.
  • DePaul University Library: Archives and Special Collections
    Rare and special collections include Charles Dickens, Irish history and literature, nineteenth-century British sports, Chicago Great Lakes underground press publications, Chicago Civic Federation, the 1993 Parliament of World's Religions, and the DePaul University Archives.
  • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)The Fermilab History and Archives Project offers guided access into the laboratory's historical records for the research user. Holdings include records and papers, oral histories, virtual exhibits, and publications related to the history of Fermilab and the work of its scientists.
  • Field Museum of Natural History: Library
    Early printed books and illustrations in natural history and ethnography; archives and manuscripts materials on the history of the Field Museum, the development of modern museum practices, and the evolution of scientific disciplines.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust: Museum Collections and Research Center
    Collections comprising examples of architectural and decorative designs created by Frank Lloyd Wright; fine and decorative art collected by Wright and his first wife Catherine Tobin Wright; and original documents, correspondence and historical artifacts from Wright's early career.
  • Gerber/Hart Library: Archives and Special Collections
    Papers, records, artifacts, and published materials related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, organizations, and businesses; holdings focus on Chicago, Illinois, and the Midwest.
  • Illinois Institute of Technology: Archives
    Administrative records and faculty papers related to the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Institute of Design, the Lewis Institute, and the Armour Institute of Technology.
  • Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northeastern Illinois University
    Official records of Chicago municipal government including city council proceedings, deed records, tax records, probate records, court case files, and birth, death, and marriage records. These Chicago city records are housed at the Ronald Williams Library at Northeastern Illinois University and are administered by the Illinois State Archives as part of the Illinois Regional Archives Depository system.
  • Lake County Museum: Curt Teich Postcard Archives
    Core collection includes more than 360,000 images, 1898 to 1978, relating to 10,000 towns and cities, primarily in the United States and Canada. Additional postcard collections on Fort Sheridan, the Century of Progress, and other subjects.
  • Lake Forest College: Mr. and Mrs. James R. Getz Archives and Special Collections
    Walking tour of African-American sites in Lake Forest, online biographical exhibition on Lake Forest College presidents, and descriptions of country estates of notable Lake Forest residents.
  • Loyola University Chicago: University Archives and Special Collections
    Includes the papers of Samuel Insull, records of the Catholic Church Extension Society and the Institute of Jesuit History, the Edward Carrigan, S.J., Theatre Collection, the Dorr E. Felt Pamphlet Collection, and the Loyola University Archives.
  • Loyola University Chicago: Women and Leadership Archives
    Records and papers of women's organizations and women who have been leaders in many fields, including the records of Mundelein College before its affiliation with Loyola University in 1991. Includes link to the Women's Archives Directory, which lists archival collections documenting women's history.
  • Morton Arboretum: Sterling Morton Library
    Books on the flora and vegetation, plant families, gardening in temperate zones, natural history, ecology, conservation, soils, plant exploration, landscape architecture, ornithology, and the history of botany, gardening, and the natural sciences.
  • Museum of Science and Industry: Collections Department
    The Museum of Science and Industry's collection includes over 60,000 artifacts, photographs, and printed items. The photograph collection includes thousands of archival images of museum exhibits from the past, as well as photographs relating to the U-505 submarine, the Pioneer Zephyr train, and Chicago world's fairs.
  • National Archives at Chicago
    Federal records dating from 1800 to the 1980s created or received by U.S. government agencies and Federal courts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
  • Newberry Library
    Rare books, manuscripts, and archives, principally in the humanities, including the history of the book, Native Americans, cartography, Chicago literature and publishing, early music, and genealogy.
  • North Park University: F. M. Johnson Archives and Special Collections
    Records of North Park University, denominational records of the Evangelical Covenant Church, collections of the Swedish-American Archives of Greater Chicago, and the Jenny Lind Collection, among other holdings.
  • Northwestern University: Archives
    Institutional records of Northwestern University, papers of faculty members, and records of student and alumni activities.
  • Northwestern University: McCormick Library of Special Collections
    Rare books, manuscripts, archives, and online exhibitions focused on American and European literature, theater, history, and political movements.
  • Northwestern University: Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies (Africana Collection)
    The Herskovits Library is the largest separate Africana collection in existence. The Africana collection includes books, serials, bibliographies, manuscripts and archives, vertical files, maps, posters, ephemera, videos, and other materials documenting the art, history, literature, music, and religion of the African continent.
  • Notebaert Nature Museum of the Chicago Academy of Sciences: Archives and Photographs
    Institutional archives, papers and field notes of midwestern naturalists, and photographs documenting the late 19th- and early 20th-century natural history of Illinois and the Chicago region.
  • Roosevelt University: Center for New Deal Studies
    Book collection on the Great Depression and New Deal, papers of Albert Lepawsky, interviews with more than 140 New Dealers, photographs, videos, and Franklin D. Roosevelt ephemera collection.
  • Rush University Medical Center: Archives
    Administrative records of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and Rush University, including historical materials on Rush Medical College, and Presbyterian, St. Luke's, and Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospitals.
  • Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies: Asher Library
    Special collections include the Badona Spertus Collection of Jewish Art, Targ Center for Jewish Music, Katzin Rare Book Room, and the Chicago Jewish Archives.
  • University of Illinois at Chicago: Special Collections and University Archives
    Rare book, manuscript, and archival collections focused on Chicago social and urban history, Jane Addams, the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933-1934, the Institute of Design, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the history of the health sciences.
  • Wheaton College: Archives and Special Collections
    Wheaton College archives, as well as manuscript collections on Madeleine L'Engle, Malcolm Muggeridge, Jacques Ellul, and other individuals and organizations.
  • Wheaton College: Billy Graham Center Archives
    Papers of Billy Graham, records of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and materials on the history of nondenominational North American Protestant evangelism and missions.
  • Wheaton College: Marion E. Wade Center
    Major research collection of the books and papers of Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Charles Williams, including more than 11,000 first editions and critical works, audio-video materials, and memorabilia.

For further information, contact:

Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 E. 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Send us a question
Phone: (773) 702-8705
Fax: (773) 702-3728