BMRC Sends Team to CBMR Archives
As noted in the fall 2011 issue of CBMR Digest, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) completed its two-year Mellon Foundation-funded survey of Chicago-area collections at the end of 2011. An important outcome of this two-year project, which assessed the varying states of public accessibility of these collections, was the discovery of many “hidden” materials held at local institutions. In 2012, the BMRC was awarded a 28-month grant by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to fund the “Color Curtain Project: Unveiling Archives of Chicago’s Black Metropolis” to help make these materials available for research, by processing and cataloguing over 10,000 linear feet of primary resources in over 100 collections related to African-American history held at member repositories. The finding aids, which include narrative descriptions of the materials, information about the people or organizations that created or collected the materials, and an inventory and summary of collection contents, are made available at the Color Curtain’s website as they are completed. The Color Curtain staff includes two administrative archivists and three two-member processing teams, consisting of undergraduates majoring in history and graduate students in library and information science.
The CBMR hosted a team during fall 2012 to sort, organize, and describe new or partially processed collections. While most of the collections held by the CBMR’s Library and Archives have a basic description available or are findable through the Collections Database, the BMRC interfiled and arranged nearly 100 linear feet of newly or partially processed materials, including those from composers Anna Gardner Goodwin and Zenobia Powell Perry.
To learn more about the talented and highly skilled BMRC team, Archivist and Digital Librarian Laurie Lee Moses recently talked with them about their backgrounds, interests, dream jobs, and aspirations. TJ Szafranski holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Dominican University. TJ credits the seeds of his archival and library science affinities with being an avid baseball card collector as a child, and dreams of working at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Dominique Fuqua is an undergraduate student at Roosevelt University, majoring in history with a minor in mathematics. Prior to their arrival at the CBMR, both TJ and Dominique worked at Roosevelt University’s archives and at the DuSable Museum of African American History, where Dominique “discovered” archives during her internship with museum librarian Bea Julian as part of her history coursework. Dominique, who may continue her archives work, enjoys the insider’s look at history that she gains from working in the archives.
As part of their Color Curtain Project internships, processors contribute essays about their experiences to a blog. TJ wrote about one of his favorite collections at the DuSable—the papers of Captain Harry Dean, a nineteenth-century seaman who travelled Africa and the United States and wrote colorful diaries. The CBMR’s Sue Cassidy Clark Collection, which contains Clark’s interviews with popular musicians of the 1960s and 1970s, is at the top of Dominique’s list of favorites, noting that she, her parents, and many others of all ages continue to enjoy the work of many of those musicians.
The CBMR appreciates the work of the team and the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and thanks the CLIR for their generosity in supporting the Color Curtain project. Columbia College Chicago is a founding member of the consortium, which was established in 2003 to promote cooperation among Chicago-area repositories with significant African-American holdings.