Chicago Public Library has added two new collections to the IDHH: the George Cleveland Hall Branch Archives collection, and the Illinois Writers Project collection. The collection we have chosen to highlight, the George Cleveland Hall Branch Archives collection, contains annual reports, programs, branch bulletins, fliers, and memos from the George Cleveland Hall Branch of the Chicago Public library, dating from 1932 to the 1970s.
Named for prominent Black physician, activist, and leader George Cleveland Hall, the Hall Branch was opened in 1932. It became a magnet for Black writers, scholars, and activists throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and launched a semimonthly event, the Book Review and Lecture Forum, which was designed to bring library patrons together with speakers on topics such as African American literature, history, and current events.
Here are a few of our favorite items from the George Cleveland Hall Branch Archives collection:
In 1889, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr co-founded Hull House on the West Side of Chicago. Based on the model of Toynbee Hall in the East End of London, Hull House was a secular settlement house, where middle-class women would volunteer their time to provide social and educational opportunities for working-class people, many of whom were newly-arrived European immigrants.
Aside from offering educational and artistic programs to the community, Hull House also offered medical care and social services. In fact, Hull House continued providing social services in multiple locations throughout Chicago up until 2012, even when the organization moved from its original location in the 1960s. Hull House became the model upon which other settlement houses were based, and influenced legislation on child labor laws, occupational health and safety provisions, education, immigration rights, and pension laws. Though most of the original complex was demolished in the mid-1960s for the construction of University of Illinois-Chicago, the Hull mansion still stands, and was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark on June 23, 1965.
To celebrate the accomplishments and legacy of Hull House, the IDHH would like to share a few of our favorite related items from Eastern Illinois University and University of Illinois at Chicago: