The Legacy of Chicago Dance at the Newberry Library

Chicago Area Special Collections members visited the Newberry Library the morning of Friday, June 14th to explore the recently renovated first floor and enjoy a curator’s tour of The Legacy of Chicago Dance, the Newberry’s special exhibition (open until July 6th).

We met for breakfast in one of the Newberry’s newly remodeled spaces and then learned about the library’s collection strengths while touring the recently-reinstalled permanent exhibition From the Stacks. Curators Will Hansen, Suzanne Karr Schmidt, and Matt Rutherford presented some highlights from the exhibition and discussed their philosophies toward expanding and exhibiting the Newberry’s diverse collections. Next, Jo Ellen Dickie led the group on a tour of the new Welcome Center and pointed out improvements to the exhibition spaces, first-floor classrooms, and lobby. Chris Fletcher then demonstrated the Newberry’s new “smart room,” which features technology that allows instructors to magnify collection materials and switch seamlessly between the projected image and online content, thereby facilitating instruction and discussion in the classroom.

We ended with a guided tour of The Legacy of Chicago Dance, led by curators Alison Hinderliter and Sam Smith. Exhibition highlights included toe shoes from famous ballerinas, a letter from Gene Kelly, videos of historical dance routines, and a costume worn by dancer-choreographer Sybil Shearer. After the tour, CASC members chatted with Newberry employees over lunch and explored the library’s reading rooms and closed stacks with Jo Ellen Dickie.

Thank you to our friends at the Newberry Library for a fascinating visit!

 

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Upcoming Visit to the Newberry Library

Chicago Area Special Collections members are invited to visit the Newberry Library on Friday, June 14th for an event starting at 10am. Highlights will include a tour of the Newberry’s recently renovated lobby, Welcome Center, and smart classrooms and a curator-led tour of the Legacy of Chicago Dance exhibition, which draws upon the Newberry’s vast dance archives.

Please RSVP to casclibrarians@gmail.com by Wednesday, June 5th. We hope you can join us to explore the Newberry’s new exhibition galleries and classrooms!

Summer Break Visit to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

We visited the special collections at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on August 21, 2018. SAIC staff opened their doors for us at three different locations: the Video Data Bank in the MacLean Center; the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection on the fifth floor of the Sharp Building; and the Fashion Resource Center in the Sullivan Center. Thank you to all the SAIC employees who met with us and talked about their experiences selecting, housing, and working with these unique and diverse special collections!

CASC Visits the Shedd Aquarium

Chicago Area Special Collections members visited the Shedd Aquarium on October 6, 2017. We learned about the library and archival collections from Alisun DeKock, Assistant Director of Information Services.

At the time of our visit, the exhibition Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea featured over-life-sized sculptures of aquatic animals composed of trash — mostly single-use plastic — found on West Coast beaches. The Washed Ashore project has organized the removal of more than 38,000 pounds of trash by over 10,000 volunteers in the last eight years. The sculptures on display at the Shedd showed us that single-use plastic pollution is a widespread and serious problem on our beaches.

Spring Visit to the National Archives at Chicago

IMG_0411Chicago Area Special Collections members traveled to Chicago’s south side on Friday, April 13th to tour the National Archives at Chicago. Douglas Bicknese, Director of Archival Operations, presented a general history of the National Archives and Records Administration and described the role that the Chicago location has within the greater system. He then led us on a tour of the facility’s public spaces and staff working areas.

Doug explained that there are two programs at Chicago’s National Archives location. Records still owned by the federal agencies that created them are housed in the Chicago Federal Records Center. After a certain number of years, permanently valuable records are then transferred to the National Archives at Chicago, where they are organized, described, and re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Ninety-seven to ninety-nine percent of records originally housed in the Chicago Federal Records Center are eventually destroyed in accordance to record schedules they jointly develop with the National Archives.

IMG_0408The National Archives at Chicago preserves records created by the U.S. District Courts, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, and U.S. Circuit Courts for the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin). Records date back to the early 19th century and include bankruptcy case files, naturalization records, criminal case files, record books, and other materials valuable for their historical and legal significance. The staff led a show-and-tell of some of their favorite records, including a scorched document that survived the Great Chicago Fire, court documents signed by Walt Disney, letters written by Abraham Lincoln, and documents and artifacts relating to the Chicago Seven and the Manhattan Project.

IMG_0409The Chicago facility is open for public research Monday through Friday from 8:00AM to 4:15PM. Researchers have access to a research room where they can consult original documents from the archival collections. There is also a computer research area for using microfilm machines and searching Ancestry.com online. The staff welcomes volunteers and student interns, and a number of their resources and finding aids are available on their website. Overall, we learned that the National Archives team wears a variety of hats: records management, cataloging, processing collections, creating finding aids, answering reference questions, assisting genealogists with their research, teaching, and performing research on the archive’s collections.

Thank you to Doug and his entire team for their friendliness, hospitality, and conversation!

 

Explore the National Archives at Chicago

The National Archives at Chicago is hosting a tour for Chicago Area Special Collections members at 2:00PM on Friday, April 13th. Come learn about the archives’ holdings – containing over 200 years of regional history. The tour will include a document display of Federal records from Abraham Lincoln, the Eastland Disaster, Chicago Seven, Eugene Debs, Fred Hampton, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Native Americans in the Great Lakes area, Manhattan Project Research in Chicago, Radium Girls, and much more.

More about the National Archives at Chicago:

The National Archives at Chicago has more than 140,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from 1800 to the 1990’s, including textual records and non-textual records such as maps and photographs from Federal courts and some 85 Federal agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

RSVP to the CASC email address to reserve your spot!

Wash Ashore with CASC at Shedd!

Shedd Aquarium will host our Fall 2017 meeting on Thursday, October 5th at 9:30AM.

Shedd Aquarium’s librarian/archivist, Alisun DeKock, will offer a tour of the Shedd’s library and archive spaces. The Shedd library serves the staff, interns, and volunteers of the Shedd, as well as outside researchers by appointment. The institutional archive houses the records of the Shedd Aquarium, from the Shedd Aquarium Society’s founding in 1924 to the present. We will explore Shedd’s history and learn why big aquariums often have small archives. (Hint: the Shedd has five million gallons of it.) We’ll also tour the new temporary art installation, Washed Ashore, which features sculptures made from plastic marine debris. CASC members are welcome to stay and explore Shedd in the afternoon or join Alisun for lunch in the Bubblenet Café.

Agenda for October 5th:

  • 9:30AM : Arrive at Shedd
  • 9:30AM – 10:00AM : Breakfast goodies and CASC business meeting
  • 10:00AM – 11:30AM : Tour of library and archive
  • 11:30AM – 12:30PM : Tour of Washed Ashore exhibit
  • 12:30PM : Explore the aquarium on your own or join CASC for lunch in the Bubblenet Café

Please RSVP to the CASC email address to reserve your spot!

Exploring the Adler

Chicago Area Special Collections members visited the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy at the Adler Planetarium on Friday, January 27, 2017.

The Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy cares for, studies, and interprets the Adler collections. The Adler boasts one of the largest and most significant collections of historic scientific instruments in the world, and the collections include rare and modern books, works on paper, photography, paintings, models, and archives. The Webster Institute’s rare books document the evolution of scientific and astronomical thought and study, as well as the study of mathematics.

Led by Sara Gonzales, Archivist and Librarian, the Webster Institute staff explained the history and mission of their department and showed CASC members highlights from the institute’s collections of historic scientific instruments, rare books, celestial maps, and other works on paper. We were especially impressed by the hand-colored early printed books on display, including the 1661 edition of Johann Bayer’s Uranometria with engravings by Alexander Mair. Next, Sara led us on a tour of their space, which includes storage for books, maps, periodicals, and archives. In the conservation lab, we viewed a brass cannon level that Adler staff were packing into a custom-designed box to transport to the Art Institute of Chicago, where it was bound for display in the new Medieval and Renaissance galleries.

We ended our visit with conversation over lunch at the planetarium’s cafeteria, and then members struck out into the Adler’s galleries to learn more about the solar system and the history of astronomy. Thank you to Sara, Chris, Jessica, and the entire Webster Institute staff for the delightful and educational day!

 

Adler Planetarium Trip Scheduled

Save the date! Our next meeting will be Friday, January 27th at 10:00AM at the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy at the Adler Planetarium. Here is some information about the Webster Institute:

The Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy cares for, studies, and interprets the Adler collections. The Adler boasts one of the largest and most significant collections of historic scientific instruments in the world, and the collections include rare and modern books, works on paper, photography, paintings, models, and archives. The Webster Institute’s rare books document the evolution of scientific and astronomical thought and study, as well as the study of mathematics.

Please RSVP to the CASC email address to reserve your spot!