CSC Oral History Research Program Papers

Institution: Chicago State University - Archives and Special Collections
9501 South Martin Luther King Drive
Chicago, IL 60628
Phone: 773-995-2586
Date: 1937-1974
Extent: 9.09 Linear Feet
Finding Aid
Access to this collection is restricted; please contact the holding institution for details.

Biographical/Historical Note:
Between 1967 and 1969 the Chicago State College Oral History Project attempted to write a comprehensive oral history of the city of Chicago. As a letter to prospective interviewees stated, “We are engaged in the compilation of an oral history of Chicago covering all aspects of the city’s life and growth as far back as the memories of our interviewees will take us.” The hugely ambitious project attempted to cover “the whole scope of our city’s endeavors.” It was directed initially by Henry E. Simmons, a member of the history department at CSC known for his writings on the Civil War. In 1968 Simmons was replaced as director by Thomas DePasquale. More interviews were conducted in 1968 but soon after the project became dormant. Others closely involved included the African-American Studies scholar Arvarh Strickland, Bernard Johnson, and Margaret Burroughs of the DuSable Museum.

By late 1967 the project claimed to have amassed 150,000 feet of taped interviews. Particularly remarkable are the extensive newspaper clippings on prospective interviewees and subjects of the oral history. The collection represents the remnants of a difficult but valuable effort to record Chicago’s history through the voices of people who helped make it.

Scope and Content Note:
The papers include dozens of interviews with Chicagoans of all walks of life, including politicians, social workers, police officers, and educators. Many of the interviews have been edited into seamless narratives without interviewers’ questions. The collection also includes correspondence with prospective interviewees and extensive files of newspaper clippings on potential targets, many of whom were never interviewed.

Related Material: None