Back of the Yards Community Collection

Dates: 1937-1983
Size: 1 linear foot, 13 microfilm reels
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_BOY
Provenance: The Back of the Yards Community Collection was transferred to the Special Collections and Preservation Division in September 2000 from the Sherman Park Branch Library at 5440 S. Racine, Chicago. Additional materials continue to be transferred or donated.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Back of the Yards Community Collection [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.

Historical Note

The community known as The Back of the Yards is located to the west and south of the old packinghouse district between Racine and Ashland Avenue. The area was the setting of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, published in 1905, and acquired more notoriety during the 1919 race riot, and major packinghouse strikes in 1904 and during the winter of 1922. The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC) founded in 1938 by Joseph Meegan, Saul Alinsky, and Bishop Bernard J. Sheil remains an important force in the neighborhood to this day.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of microfilm reels of the Back of the Yards Journal, running from January 7, 1937 to December 29, 1983 with some significant gaps, as well as one box of supplementary materials. Also included is a microfilm reel of scrapbooks kept by the Back of the Yards Council from between July 1939 and February 1967. Included is a copy of the 25th Annual Report of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, dated May 1964. Researchers particularly interested in the Stockyards should also consult our Chicago City Wide Collection. Researchers interested in the community should also consult the Chicago Public Library Archives, Branch Annual Reports for the following Branch Libraries: Back of the Yards; Canaryville; New City; Sherman Park.

Materials in the Schools series, Box 1, Folders 8-9, were added to the collection in 2018.

Container List


Box 1 Folder 1 Stockyards, newspaper clipping, Chicago Daily Tribune, February 2, 1961. "Chicago's Stockyard Picture Still Looms Bright."
Box 1 Folder 2 Stockyards, newspaper clipping, Back of the Yards Journal, February 8, 1961. "Stockyards Change Character but Still Performs Major Task."

Religious Institutions

Box 1 Folder 3 Visitation Parish, Diamond Jubilee Publication, 1961.

Clubs and Organizations

Box 1 Folder 4 Booklet, "Conservation" by Back of the Yards Council, 1953.
Box 1 Folder 5 Back of the Yards Council, newspaper clipping, Back of the Yards Journal, undated. "Where the People Act to Help Themselves"

Historical Sketches

Box 1 Folder 6 "Back of the Yards 1870-1890," 1938.
Box 1 Folder 7 "Packing Houses," undated


Box 1 Folder 8 Sherman School faculty and class photographs, 1934-1935; 1951-1970. These appear to be class photos from the same teacher’s classes over the years. Earlier in her career, she taught 6th grade, and later in her career she appears to be teaching younger children, possibly 2nd grade.
Box 1 Folder 9 Tilden Technical High School yearbook, The Craftsman, 1921 June

MICROFILM Back of the Yards Journal:

*Rolls filmed out of sequence

Roll 1 January 7, 1937 - December 28, 1939
Roll 2 January 6, 1944 - December 27, 1946; January 4, 1961 - July 29, 1964
Roll 3 August 5, 1964 - January 26, 1972
Roll 4 February 2, 1972 - May 30, 1974
Roll 5 June 5, 1974 - March 31, 1976
Roll 6 April 7, 1976 - December 14, 1977
Roll 7 December 21, 1977 - June 20, 1979
Roll 8 June 27, 1979 - December 31, 1980
Roll 9 January 7, 1981 - December 30, 1981
Roll 12 January 6, 1982 - March 16, 1983
Roll 13 March 23, 1983 - December 29, 1983
Roll 10 Back of the Yards Council, Joseph B. Meegan Scrapbooks; 25th Annual Report of the Back of the Yards Neighborhoods Council, May 17, 1964, "Community Conservation," 1950-1960
Roll 11 Dates unclear, incomplete reel of retakes from Roll 10
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