Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards $194,000 grant for Chicago Collections Consortium online portal

The University of Chicago Library is pleased to announce its participation in an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded project to support the development and implementation of the Chicago Portal. The $194,000 grant was awarded to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees on behalf of the Library, which is leading the project with the Chicago Collections Consortium (CCC). The University of Chicago is a member of the CCC.

L Map

Chicago Transit Authority. “‘L’ Map of Chicago.” (1933) R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

The fifteen-month grant will fund the development of CCC’s major first initiative, a freely accessible, online portal to materials documenting the rich history of Chicago. The portal paves the way for CCC to fulfill its vision of connecting and preserving Chicago-focused collections, and increasing public and scholarly interest in and study of the Chicago region’s diverse history and culture.

Mary M. Case, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at UIC, and Chair of the CCC Board of Directors, commented, “The portal will use the power of technology and the research expertise of librarians and archivists to put information about diaries, photographs, letters, and other original materials from those who shaped Chicago’s history into our hands. We are very grateful to The Mellon Foundation for making it possible for us to tangibly connect the past and present and, in this way, promote scholarship and learning.”

“We are delighted to participate in the realization of this important project,” said Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian at the University of Chicago and a member of the consortium’s Board and Executive Committee. “Integrating our rich UChicago-based collections with the collections of the other participating members and making them available through the Chicago Portal will advance the shared awareness and use of this enormous resource.”

A venture that will benefit knowledge-seekers beyond the academic and geographic boundaries of Chicago, the portal will provide students, scholars, researchers, and citizen-historians with unprecedented access to a free database of information held by CCC member institutions. It will provide significant scholarly and educational benefit with local, national, and international impact. “The portal will permit users to discover historical resources in ways that are nearly impossible today—resources that are not meant to be contained, but imparted to the world,” remarked Jaclyn Grahl, Executive Director of the CCC, “and it is just the beginning of this terrific collaboration of Chicago institutions working together to provide first-rate programs and services that will benefit the public in exciting new ways.”

University of Chicago Contributions

Ida B. Wells with her children

Ida B. Wells-Barnett with her children, 1909, 13.7 x 9.5 cm. Ida B. Papers, Box 10, Folder 1, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Aspects of Chicago’s social, cultural, literary, scientific, economic, political, and architectural history are documented in archives and manuscripts in the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center. The records and papers of early 20th-century organizations and social reformers at UChicago include those of the Committee of Fifteen, the Anti-Saloon League and the Chicago Citizens Police Committee, Ida B. Wells, Sophonisba Breckenridge, Edith Abbott, and Marion Talbot. The archives also hold the papers of a generation of University sociologists, most notably Ernest Watson Burgess and his students, who conducted studies of Chicago neighborhoods and ethnic groups.

The Chicago Jazz Archive and the papers of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse and of Saul Bellow—all at UChicago—document the city’s role as a center for literary and musical innovation. The archive of RR Donnelley charts the growth of this printing company from its founding in 1864 as well as the Chicago business, industrial, and graphic design communities with which it was engaged. And the Archival Photographic Files Building and Grounds Series includes images of Chicago—and especially Hyde Park—architecture.

UChicago staff contributing to the development of the project include Charles Blair, Director of the Digital Library Development Center, who has been heavily involved in planning for the technical infrastructure of the portal; Daniel Meyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center and University Archivist, and Ashley Locke, Processing Archivist in Special Collections, who serve on the Collections Committee that is identifying the UChicago resources to be included; and Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for Digital Services.

About the Chicago Collections Consortium

Fate in a Pleasant Mood album cover

Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra, Fate in a Pleasant Mood, Saturn SR9956-2-B, 33 1/3 rpm, 1965, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

The CCC is a new nonprofit organization that preserves, presents, and promotes the history and culture of the Chicago region by coordinating and leveraging the collections, programs, and expertise of its member libraries, museums, and other institutions with Chicago-focused archival materials. By promoting cooperation and collaboration across Chicago’s cultural heritage community, CCC aims to develop a robust offering of collaborative programs highlighting the unique collections that document both the history and contemporary concerns of one of North America’s largest and most complex urban communities. With the Chicago Portal as its cornerstone initiative, future projects such as citywide online and physical exhibits, neighborhood guides, curricular materials, and educational programs will be developed.

Founding members of the CCC include: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Public Library, Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, The Newberry Library, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, The University of Chicago, and University of Illinois at Chicago.

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