Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Black Metropolis Research Consortium?
The Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) is an unincorporated Chicago-based association of libraries, universities, and other archival institutions dedicated to making broadly accessible their holdings of materials that document African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with a specific focus on materials relating to Chicago.

What is the Black Metropolis Research Consortium Survey?
The BMRC Survey Initiative was a three year project to identify and assess irreplaceable collections of African American and African related archival materials. Adapting a survey methodology originally developed by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and implemented by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries, the Survey staff assess processed, unprocessed, underprocessed and underdescribed archival collections in a range of physical formats. You can learn more about the BMRC’s Archival Survey Initiative on our About the Survey page.

Who funded this project?
This project was made possible through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Who participated in the survey?
You can see a list of all the participating institutions, or view them on a map, on our About the Survey page.

How many collections have the BMRC surveyed?
As of October 2011, more than 1100 archival collections have been surveyed as part of this project.

What can I do with this website?
This website offers brief, descriptive information about many of the archival collections surveyed as part of the project. You can search for materials by keyword, or browse through lists of subject terms. Most of the collection descriptions include a Biographical/Historical Note about the people or organizations that created or constitute the primary subject of the collection, a Scope and Content Note that describes the collection itself and the scope of its documentation, subject headings, and contact information for the institution that holds the collection. To see examples, you can browse an alphabetically arranged list of Collection Titles.

Is all the survey data viewable on this website?
No. The survey process involved both identifying collections and assessing them according to various pre-determined criteria, including Physical Condition, Access, and Research Value. The assessment data is for the internal use of BMRC Member Institutions to prioritize future projects, such as digitization, preservation, and processing materials to facilitate public access. You can read more about the survey process on our Documentation page.

Are all of the surveyed collections searchable on this website?
No. This website is intended to provide information about archival collections that are currently accessible to the public. Some of the institutions that participated in the survey are currently unable to provide public access to their holdings, and these survey records are not searchable on this website. Note: some participating institutions place partial or full access restrictions on selected collections within their holdings. These restrictions may be temporary or indefinite in length and are generally imposed based on access policies developed on an institutional basis. Access restrictions, where they have been imposed, are noted on this website in the collection record.

What does Second Space mean?
You can learn more about the BMRC’s Second Space concept and to a see a list of institutions that participated in the Archival Survey Initiative as Second Space Members, on our About the Survey page.

If I have questions about these collections, how do I contact you?
Unfortunately, the BMRC is not able to provide reference assistance. For more information about the collections described on this website, including information about accessing the materials, please contact the holding institution. Every collection record on this website includes contact information for the collection's holding institution, which may consist of a phone number, email or mailing address, or website.