Archival Research

University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center

The rare book holdings of the Special Collections Research Center, which total approximately 265,000 volumes, consist of the general rare book collection and a number of separately named collections; for example, the Ludwig Rosenberger Library of Judaica; the John Crerar Collection of Rare Books in the History of Science and Medicine; the Helen and Ruth Regenstein Collection of Rare Books; and the Encyclopaedia Britannica Collection of Literature for Children.

Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries constitute a major art and architecture research collection. All periods and media are covered, with special emphasis on architecture of the 18th through 20th centuries and 19th-century painting, prints, drawings, and decorative arts. Special collections include the Percier and Fontaine Collection of 17th- to 19th-century architectural books, the Mary Reynolds Collection on Dada and Surrealism, the George R. Collins Archive of Catalan Art and Architecture, and the Mrs. James Ward Thorne Collection of illustrated books.

Chicago Film Archives

A regional film archive that collects, preserves, and provides access to films that represent the Midwest. The collections include professional and amateur films, as well as those often-neglected cultural gems, home movies.

The Newberry Library

The Newberry’s collection embraces history and the humanities in Europe and the Americas, from the late Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Areas of collecting strength include the Renaissance; European history and literature; American history and literature; the history and culture of Chicago and the Midwest; printing, calligraphy, and book arts; the colonization of the Americas and contact with American Indians and Indigenous populations; maps, travel, and exploration; and the westward movement.

Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum’s research center holds a comprehensive body of published and unpublished materials on Chicago. Archives and manuscripts strengths include records relating to social service organizations, civil rights and civil liberties, reform politics, and organized labor. The WFMT/Studs Terkel Audio Archive includes more than 7,000 hours of sound recordings.

Museum of Science and Industry Collections

Originally built in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exposition as the Palace of Fine Arts, Julius Rosenwald, then chairman of Sears Robebuck, converted the building to an Industrial Museum beginning in 1933. The Museum of Science and Industry’s Collection includes more than 60,000 artifacts (objects, photographs, and printed material), both on display and in storage. The Museum’s 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, the Chicago World’s Fairs.

International Museum of Surgical Science

The Museum Library contains over 5,000 books and bound journals, including extremely rare early medical books from the 16th to 18th centuries, while its manuscript collection contains over 650 letters and papers from prominent figures in medical history, extending over four centuries. The museum also holds over 7,000 medical artifacts spanning centuries of worldwide medical history, from acupuncture to X-ray therapy.

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives

Gerber/Hart is the Midwest’s largest LGBT circulating library and has over 100 archival collections containing the records of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals and organizations, and other resources bearing upon their lives and experiences in American society.

Northwestern University Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections

The McCormick Library houses more than 235,000 of Northwestern University Library’s most unusual and outstanding items and collections, ranging from four-thousand-year-old Mesopotamian clay tablets to 19th-century cobweb paintings to the most recent issues of feminist journals from around the world. Formats collected include rare books and periodicals; manuscripts and archives; sound recordings; photographs; video/film; posters and prints; and realia.

Vivian Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature

Housed in the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, the Harsh Collection is the largest African American history and literature collection in the Midwest. It contains a wealth of documentation of the black experience, with a strong focus on African American history in Illinois.

Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures

The research archives of the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, located on the University of Chicago campus, span the history of the ancient Near East from prehistoric times through the late antique period, including important collections on archaeology, Assyriology, Demotic and Greek papyrology, Elamology, Egyptology, Syro-Mesopotamian studies, and Syro-Palestinian studies.

Pritzker Military Library

The collection of the Pritzker Military Library includes over 30,000 books, periodicals, videos, artwork, posters, and rare military ephemera; over 6,000 photographs and glass negatives from the American Civil War and Spanish-American War through the present day; and a sizable collection related to Winston Churchill. Archive and manuscript collection highlights include personal recollections of veterans and the papers of military historian Edward Jablonski (1922–2004).

Harold Washington Library Special Collections Center

The Special Collections and Preservation Division collects, preserves, and provides access to rare and unique materials at the Chicago Public Library. The focus is on Chicago; Civil War materials, rare books, and art round out the collections. The Harold Washington Library is fFree and open to the public.

National Archives Great Lakes Region

This branch of the National Archives preserves and make available documents created by federal agencies in the Great Lakes region. The facility has extensive microfilm holdings, as well as more than 80,000 cubic feet of historical records from 1800 to the 1980s. Subjects of local interest include the Great Lakes and inland waterways; Native Americans; the environment; immigration and naturalization; inventions and technology; railroads; the automotive industry; and domestic conditions during World Wars I and II.