Revealing Hidden Manuscripts through Cataloging, Assessment, and Archival Processing and Description


The Chicago History Museum (CHM) requests funding to 1) catalog and assess its manuscript holdings from Chicago’s beginnings to the present day and American history through the Civil War; and 2) arrange and describe priority collections in the processing backlog that document Chicago-area social conditions, religious communities, neighborhoods, politics, labor history, education, and ethnic history. Priority collections to be processed include the papers of Illinois congressional leaders Sidney Yates, Carol Moseley-Braun, and Charles Percy (1,733 combined linear feet), and records from a broad spectrum of community and social service organizations (21 known priority collections at 983 lf), community leaders (11 at 225 lf), labor organizations (5 at 103 lf), and labor leaders (3 at 8 lf), with an emphasis on the post-1945 period. Once processed, these collections (53 for a total of 3,052 lf) will become an indispensable resource for urban and social historians and document Chicago’s changes in the postwar period, the impact of national urban policy on cities, and the evolution of community organizing. Additional collections will be prioritized for processing under this grant following the assessment survey; these materials will provide further historical context and enhance the aggregate importance of the collections to be made visible and accessible through this project.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded

Year Added



Chicago History Museum


  • Alison Eisendrath

Collection Size

20506 linear feet

Date Range

1850 - 2006

Geographic Scope

The collections document Chicago and its environs as well as selected areas of regional and American history.