Box and Folder Number

There is this photograph of my father sitting in a straw lawn chair, with aviator glasses and a smile that I’ve always loved. My dad looks so young, so cool, with his sideburns and youth. In the picture, he’s sitting in a park that for many years was nameless to me and didn’t really matter, until I guess it did.

When my father moved to Chicago, he lived in the East Garfield Park Community, in an apartment that faced Garfield Park.

I can’t remember when we started going to Garfield Park as a family for our Saturday morning outings, but I do remember a particular area of the park we claimed as a family: a hill that wasn’t an actual hill that was walking distance from a bandstand that no longer played music.

I’d been working in archives for a while, before I was asked to pull items from Special Collections East Garfield Park, Neighborhood Collection. We work a lot with boxes and folders in archives. We work a lot with stories and memories. We work a lot too, to preserve emotions. I was surprised at the instant connection and warmth I experienced revisiting items from this particular collection that had many images of a park that was very dear to me as a child.

One of the things I’ve learned to appreciate and value about working in archives, is the ability to time travel to the past and, if you’re the creative type, you can use material housed in an archive to think about what your future may look like as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about Special Collections’ archival holding, or perhaps specifically East Garfield Park, Neighborhood Collections, be sure to reach out the Chicago Public Library’s Special Collection division; you’ll never know what you might discover while you're here.

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