Special Collections and Preservation Division
Neighborhood Research History Collection
Historical Society of Woodlawn
Founded in 1937 and active until the mid 1960’s, the Historical Society of Woodlawn (HSW) took as its mission, the preservation of Woodlawn’s historical record. Staffed by volunteer community members, the HSW actively accessioned, cataloged and preserved Woodlawn’s neighborhood history. Over the years, HSW members have written numerous historical essays concerning Woodlawn’s development. In addition to collecting neighborhood history, the HSW sponsored annual dinners each May, guest lecturers throughout the year and held membership in both the Illinois Historical Society and the Associated Clubs of Woodlawn. Although the exact date of dissolution can not be determined from the available evidence, it can be said with a high degree of confidence that due to lack of membership and community interest, the HSW was compelled to disband sometime around 1965.
The Records of the HSW consist of financial records, minutes of meetings, membership rosters, printed materials and newsclippings. The predominant years represented in the collection extend from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. This collection is open to the public and patrons interested in viewing its contents should contact the Special Collections Division. Duplicate materials and selected photocopied items from the collection are available at the Woodlawn Branch Library.
Series I: Administrative Records, 1939
This series consists of the HSW’s administrative records. Included in this group are correspondence, certificates, constitution and by-laws, financial records and minutes of meetings. This series is arranged alphabetically by folder subject title.
Series II: Historical Essays and Sketches,
This small but significant series contains perhaps the best narrative history of Woodlawn’s early years. Written by long time Woodlawn resident John C. Spray in 1920, The Book of Woodlawn provides the reader one of the most complete narrative histories of Woodlawn form its origins in the 1850’s to the 1920’s.
Series III: Newsclippings, 1935 - 1946
This series of newsclippings documents some of the HSW’s activities for the years between 1935 and 1946. The newsclippings also provide biographical information about some HSW officers and members. Clippings are arranged chronologically.
Series IV: Printed Material, 1929 -
This series contains poems, programs and meeting announcements, and song books. Material in this series is arranged alphabetically by folder subject title.
Photographs have been removed from the HSW manuscript collection and placed into the HSW Audio-visual Collection. Eighty-four lantern slides have been removed from the collection and placed in Box HSW 3 of the AV Collection. All photographs are listed at the end of the Box and Folder Inventory.
The following materials have been removed to the locations given.
Rubber stamp by Progress Stamps
Special Collections artifacts
Works, Chicago, reading "Historical
Society of Woodlawn."
Fifty-eight lantern slides of Chicago
Frank W. Smith Glass Plate
parks and Civil War images. Slide Collection, Supplement 8.
Twenty-four lantern slides, New
Lincoln’s New Salem State
Salem, Illinois, 1920s. Historic Site, Petersburg, IL 62675.
Two lantern slides, Bryant Cottage,
Bryant Cottage State Historic Site,
Bement, Illinois (Lincoln-Douglas Bement, IL 61813.
Since its inception, HSW maintained a close relationship with the Woodlawn Branch of the Chicago Public Library. In fact, Julia Baker, the Head Librarian at the Woodlawn Branch, served as the HSW’s first librarian. One result of this close relationship was that records of the HSW, as well as its many acquisitions, were housed at the Woodlawn Library.
In 1983, the Special Collections Division of the Chicago Public Library received a grant from the Scholl Foundation to continue the acquisition and the processing of the Division’s Neighborhood History Collection. Due in part to the HSW’s thirty year effort in collecting neighborhood history, and because of the unique character and fragile condition of some of the materials, the Special Collections Division transferred the HSW collection to its office during the summer of 1984.
The Historical Society of Woodlawn Records are available to the public for research in the Special Collections and Preservation Division Reading Room on the 9th floor of the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60605. The collection does not circulate, although photocopy and photoreproduction services are available depending upon the condition of the original materials. First time patrons to Special Collections must present photo identification and complete a Reader Registration Form. Telephone inquiries on this collection and other Special Collections holdings can be directed to 312-747-4875.
Series I: Administrative Records
1. Certificates, Forms and Stationery:
2. Constitution and By-Laws: ca. 1939.
3. Correspondence: 1945-1967.
4. Directories: 1940-1941, 1943-1944, 1946-1947, 1948-1949, 1950-1951.
5. Financial Records: Bank statements and Canceled checks, 1952-1953.
6. Financial Records: Treasurer’s Reports, 1948-1957.
7. Meeting Announcements: 1938-1964.
8-9. Meeting Attendance Lists: 1938-1944, 1944-1957.
10. Minutes of Meetings: 1950-1966.
Series II: Historical Essays and Sketches
11. The Book of Woodlawn, by John C. Spray: 1920. See also: WCC/Biographical Data: Spray, John C. and HSW/Printed Materials: Song.
Series III: Newsclippings
12. Newsclippings: 1935-1938.
13. Newsclippings: 1938-1944.
14. Newsclippings: Feb. 17, 1946.
Series IV: Printed Materials
15. Instruction Booklets, 1964-1964.
1. Poem - "Historical," by Minnie
Moreland Dow: N/D.
2. Program - Presentation by Richard B. Truitt: May 14, 1961.
3. Programs, Song Books and Meeting Announcements: 1954-1959.
4. Song, "Woodlawn, Dear Old Woodlawn," by John C. Spray: 1929.
See also: WCC/Biographical Data: Spray, John C. and HSW/Historical Essays and Sketches: The Book of Woodlawn.
Clubs & Organizations
1.1 Board Members, 1938-39; 1940
1.2 Historical costumes meeting; 1940 Apr 25
1.3-1.6 Meeting at Illinois Bell, including examination of antique telephone equipment; no date
1.7 "Then & Now" meeting sponsored by Woodlawn Business Men’s Association, 1944 May 12: Clara Gartner at meeting
1.8 "Then & Now"—Live Wire Chorus
1.9 "Then & Now"—Live Wire Chorus and others
1.10 "Then & Now"—Members at meeting