Geraldine Lane Mardis Papers


Dates: 1907-1953, undated
Size: 3.5 linear feet
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, 9525 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois 60628



Provenance: Donated by Geraldine Lane Mardis in June 2003 and May 2008
Access: No restrictions

When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is:

Geraldine Lane Mardis Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Chicago Public Library, Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature

Processed by: Elizabeth Loch, Archival Specialist, April 2021

Biographical Note

Geraldine Lane Mardis was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 14, 1918. She was the only child of Bessie and Roscoe C. Lane. At the age of six she moved to Chicago, Illinois to reside with her paternal grandmother, Belle Lane Kelly, who raised her.

Mardis attended Parker High School and graduated in 1935. She then attended the University of Chicago, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Service and a Master’s Degree from the university’s School of Social Service Administration in 1953. During Mardis’s undergrad years, she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and considered to be an outgoing student. In 1939, Mardis was nominated as a contestant in the University of Chicago’s annual Cap and Gown Beauty Contest. Mardis was reported leading in votes but was asked to withdraw when officials learned she was African American. The controversy was reported in newspapers nationwide.

In 1948, Mardis married M. Winston Mardis. They divorced seventeen years later. The couple had one son, Winston Lane.

Mardis worked as a medical social worker at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center from 1949 to 1952. She was then employed by Rest Haven Rehabilitation Hospital as a medical social worker in 1959. The hospital was renamed as Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. Mardis was promoted to Director of the Department of Social Work and stayed until her retirement in February 1992.

Geraldine Lane Mardis passed away on October 12, 2012.

Scope and Content

The bulk of this collection consists of photographs and a scrapbook documenting the Lane family. Of note are photographs of the family vacationing in Idlewild, Michigan (a popular resort town for African Americans). The collection also includes biographical information on Geraldine Lane Mardis and Dr. Alexander Lane (her paternal grandfather).


This collection is arranged into three series by type of material: Series 1: Manuscripts, 1907-1950, undated; Series 2: Photographs, 1926-1953, undated; and Series 3: Scrapbook, 1926-1949, undated. Items in each series are listed alphabetically by title.

Related Materials

Related materials at the Chicago Public Library include:

Container List

Series 1: Manuscripts, 1907-1950, undated

Box 1 Folder 1 Dr. Alexander Lane’s biography notes by his wife [photocopy], undated
Box 1 Folder 2 Dr. Alexander Lane’s business card and envelope [photocopy], undated
Box 1 Folder 3 Dr. Alexander Lane’s entries in the Illinois Blue Book [photocopy], 1907, 1909
Box 1 Folder 4 Geraldine Lane Mardis as Michael Reese Hospital social worker, Chicago Globe article [photocopy], 1950 April 22
Box 1 Folder 5 Geraldine Lane Mardis in University of Chicago’s Beauty Queen contest, press clippings, 1939
Box 1 Folder 6 “In Remembrance of Dr. Alexander Lane,” by the Attuck Junior High School [photocopy], undated
Box 1 Folder 7 Moses Aaron Mardis’s obituary in the Chicago Tribune [photocopy], undated
Box 1 Folder 8 Prom admission ticket for Geraldine Lane, undated

Series 2: Photographs, 1926-1953, undated

Box 2 Photo 001 Boating on Lake Idlewild [group of boats], 1920s
Box 2 Photo 002 Boating on Lake Idlewild [three boats], 1920s
Box 2 Photo 003 Boats on beach, undated
Box 2 Photo 004 Boats with lanterns on Lake Idlewild, 1920s
Box 2 Photo 005 Crowd at Lake Idlewild Clubhouse, 1920s
Box 2 Photo 006 Dr. Alexander Lane [1857-1911], a portrait, undated
Box 2 Photo 007 Family in front of Idlewild Clubhouse [Geraldine Lane is the youngest in the front row], 1920s
Box 2 Photo 008 Family in front of a small cottage in Idlewild, 1920s
Box 2 Photo 009 Geraldine Lane and a friend with a horse in Idlewild [Geraldine Lane is pictured left at age seven or eight], 1920s
Box 2 Photo 010 Geraldine Lane in Idlewild during the summer, 1926
Box 2 Photo 011 Geraldine Lane Mardis portrait [Woodard Studios], 1939
Box 2 Photo 012 Geraldine Lane Mardis standing with the family car in front of the family home, 1920s
Box 2 Photo 013 Geraldine Lane Mardis studio portrait [around the age of ten to twelve in Atlantic City, New Jersey], undated
Box 2 Photo 014 Girl [Geraldine Lane Mardis?] on a boat at Idlewild, 1920s
Box 2 Photo 015 Group sitting and standing in a yard [includes Dr. Alexander Lane, Mrs. Lane, and Geraldine Lane], undated
Box 2 Photo 016 Idlewild Clubhouse [view from lake], 1920s
Box 2 Photo 017 Idlewild Clubhouse [with people], 1920s
Box 2 Photo 018 Lake Idlewild postcard, 1936
Box 2 Photo 019 Man and child by a car [Harry Lewis ?], 1948 June
Box 2 Photo 020 Man [Mr. Lane] standing in garden in Carbondale, Illinois, undated
Box 2 Photo 021 Man on steps in Chicago [double exposure], 1920s
Box 2 Photo 022 Meadow Lark Haven in Idlewild postcard, 1936
Box 2 Photo 023 Picture postcard of Idlewild, 1953
Box 2 Photo 024 Studio portrait of a woman [Geraldine Lane Mardis’s mother?], undated
Box 2 Photo 025 “The Tri Phi,” first summer formal at the Vincennes Hotel [photo by A. Foster], 1937 June
Box 2 Photo 026 Two children with a bike, undated
Box 2 Photo 027 Woman and girl, undated
Box 2 Photo 028 Woman [Isabelle Holland Lane, Geraldine Lane’s grandmother] by Lake Michigan in Chicago, 1920s
Box 2 Photo 029 Woman on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, 1920s
Box 2 Photo 030 Woman on steps in Chicago, undated
Box 2 Photo 031 Woman standing in front of home, undated
Box 2 Photo 032 Women and children sitting on steps, undated
Box 2 Photo 033 Women in front of Providence Baptist Church in Chicago, circa 1930
Box 2 Photo 034 Women on Idlewild beach, undated

Series 3: Scrapbook, 1926-1949, undated

Box 3 Folder 1 Lane family scrapbook, part 1, 1926-1949, undated
Box 3 Folder 2 Lane family scrapbook, part 2, 1926-1949, undated
Box 3 Folder 3 Lane family scrapbook, photocopied pages, 1926-1949, undated
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