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!

 

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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!

See You in 2017!

My maternity leave is quickly approaching, so I want to post a reminder that CASC will be on hiatus for the remainder of 2016. Thank you for your participation and enthusiasm this year, and I look forward to seeing you in the new year!

In my absence, the CASC email and Facebook page will remain active. Please send ideas and suggestions for 2017 events to casclibrarians@gmail.com.

Enjoy your summer and best wishes for a fulfilling and productive fall!

Stephanie Fletcher, CASC Moderator

A Sneak Peek at the University of Chicago’s Special Collections Research Center and Mansueto Library

CASC members gathered at the University of Chicago’s Special Collections Research Center on Wednesday, May 4th. We were welcomed over coffee and pastries by Dan Meyer, Director of SCRC and University Archivist, and his staff. Dan presented highlights from the university’s special collections and spoke about his department’s history.

Next, we moved to SCRC’s exhibition space to enjoy a gallery talk by Ashley Gosselar, Processing Archivist in Special Collections and curator of the exhibition Integrity of the Page: The Creative Process of Daniel Clowes. Ashley talked to us about her experiences researching the exhibition, working directly with cartoonist Daniel Clowes, and making design decisions that impacted the exhibition’s visual appeal.

Our next adventure was a tour of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, led by Jim Vaughan, Associate University Librarian for User Services, and Jamaar Harris, Head of Circulation at Mansueto Library. Jim and Jamaar explained how Mansueto’s high-density automated storage and retrieval system works, and then escorted us underground so we could view the system first-hand. Our group was definitely awed by the space and the mechanics!

We emerged from the underground space to tour the Preservation Department, also housed in Mansueto. The staff guided us through their many work stations and introduced us to the various preservation and conservation projects that staff and students are currently undertaking. We ended our morning with an optional tour of SCRC offices and public spaces.

Many thanks again to Dan, Ashley, Jim, Jamaar, and the staff of the Preservation Department and the Special Collections Research Center for such an informative and exciting morning!

 

Upcoming Event: CASC Visit to the University of Chicago

Chicago Area Special Collections (CASC) will meet Wednesday, May 4, from 9:30 to 11:00 in the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library. Special Collections is located on the first floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th Street (phone: 773-702-8705). Directions to Regenstein Library can be found on the Special Collections web site.

CASC members will be able to view the current Special Collections exhibition, “Integrity of the Page: The Creative Process of Daniel Clowes” and hear a gallery talk by exhibition curator Ashley Gosselar, Processing Archivist in Special Collections. Daniel Clowes is a highly regarded cartoonist, comic book artist, and screenwriter. He is best known for his Eightball comic book series (1989-2004), Ghost World (1997), Ice Haven (2005), Wilson (2010), Mister Wonderful (2011), and The Death-Ray (2011). Despite modern proliferation of computer software for artists and designers, Clowes remains dedicated to simple paper, pencil, and ink – to the “integrity of the page.” The physicality of his craft is a vital component to Clowes’ artistic vision and creative process. In 2015, the Special Collections Research Center acquired the Clowes papers, which include notes, outlines, narrative drafts, character sketches, draft layouts, and more for Ice Haven, Mister Wonderful, and The Death-Ray. The exhibition pieces together this material, tracing the evolution of Clowes’ artistic process from conception to production to publication.

Also part of the CASC meeting will be a tour of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which is connected to Regenstein Library by a glass span. Designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn, the Mansueto Library includes a large reading room where students and scholars work under an elliptical glass dome with views of the campus. The Mansueto Library also houses conservation and digitization facilities. The underground Mansueto Library stacks extend more than 50 feet below the surface and can hold the equivalent of 3.5 million volumes, giving researchers efficient access to materials that are retrieved by robotic cranes. A cross-disciplinary array of collections from the libraries on campus have been moved into Mansueto. Rare books, manuscripts, and archives from Special Collections are also being housed in Mansueto and circulate to the Special Collections reading room from the ASRS.

Special Collections looks forward to welcoming CASC on May 4.

Submitted by Daniel Meyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center & University Archivist, University of Chicago Library