Lower West Side Community Collection

Dates: 1891-2022
Size: 3.75 linear feet in 6 boxes and 1 oversize folder, includes 15 photographs
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: spe-nhrc-low
Immediate Source of Acquisition: The initial collection materials were transferred from Chicago Public Library, Legler Branch in the 1980s as part of a grant from the Dr. Scholl Foundation. In 1989, Faith Evans donated an unpublished autobiography of her mother, Emma Rouse King (Box 1, Folders 13-14). The content in Boxes 2-6 were transferred from the Lozano Branch of Chicago Public Library in 2021.
Language Materials are primarily in English, with a few items in Spanish and German.
Conditions Governing Access: Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use: Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Lower West Side Community Collection [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Finding Aid Author: Original author unknown. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2021


The Lower West Side in Chicago has served as an entry point for several immigrant groups over the years including Bohemians, Germans, Poles and Mexicans. The bulk of the collection documents the Pilsen area and the predominately Mexican American residents in that community. The topics include arts and culture, schools, social organizations and religious organizations. The Gads Hill Center settlement house folders cover several of the earlier immigrant groups to this area.


The Lower West Side community area is three miles southwest of Chicago’s Loop. This community is bounded by the Chicago River on the south and east and by the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks on the north and west. The northeast sections of the neighborhood were included in the city's boundaries when it incorporated in 1837. The remaining sections were annexed in 1853. It is number 31 of the 77 official communities that make up Chicago.

The Lower West Side has served as an entry point for several immigrant groups over the years including Bohemians, Germans, Poles and Mexicans. The area was settled by Germans and Irish in the 1860s and 1870s. By the turn of the century, the population was largely Polish, but included Slovenian and Italian communities. In fact, the area of the Lower West Side known as “Pilsen,” referenced a city in the Czech Republic where many of the early residents came from. As the meatpacking houses of the nearby stockyards district shut down in the 1950s, many Mexican American families moved into the Pilsen and Little Village areas. This was soon followed by an influx of Mexican and other Latinx groups into the area over the next few decades.

Each subsequent community left its imprint on local schools, religious institutions and newspapers, often adapting existing organizations to the new community preferences. For the Latinx community, Howell Neighborhood House was transformed into Casa Aztlán. Fiesta del Sol celebrations have been held since 1973, the Benito Juárez High School was created in 1977, murals celebrating Mexican culture abound and the Mexican Fine Arts Center (National Museum of Mexican Art) opened in 1987.

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection documents the Pilsen area and the predominately Mexican American residents in that community from 1976 to 2015. The topics include arts and culture, schools, social organizations and religious organizations. The Gads Hill Center settlement house folders cover several of the earlier immigrant groups to this area.


The collection is arranged into 8 series by topic:

  • Series 1: Arts and Culture, 1976-2022, undated
  • Series 2: Biographical Materials, circa 1940-2009, undated
  • Series 3: Businesses, 1892-2017
  • Series 4: Clubs and Organizations, 1924-2010, undated
  • Series 5: Historical Sketches and Guidebooks, 1929-2011, undated
  • Series 6: Municipal and Government Agencies, 1911-circa 2015
  • Series 7: Religious Institutions, 1902-2003, undated
  • Series 8: Schools, 1891-circa 2008

Subject Headings

  • Gads Hill Center (Chicago, Ill.) -- Archives
  • Trinity Evangelical Church (Chicago, Ill.) -- Archives
  • Czechs -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- Sources
  • Germans -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- Sources
  • Lower West Side (Chicago, Ill.) -- History -- Sources
  • Mexican Fine Arts Center--Museum (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Mexicans -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- Sources
  • Mural painting and decoration - Illinois -- Chicago
  • National Museum of Mexican Art

Related Collections

  • Chicago Department of Urban Renewal Records
  • Gads Hill Collection
  • David Gremp Photographs
  • Humboldt Park Community Collection
  • Kircher Family Papers
  • Akito Tsuda Photographs
  • West Side Community Collection

Collection Inventory

Series 1: Arts and Culture, 1976-2022, undated

Scope and Contents

Series 1 contains a variety of items about Pilsen’s art and cultural activities. The materials include artist biographies, museum and gallery brochures and announcements and the Chicago Public Library Lozano Branch reference files on Pilsen neighborhood murals.


Series 1 is arranged alphabetically by organization name or subject.

Box 2 Folder 1 Abrazo, serial publication, 1976, 1979
Box 2 Folder 2 Artists - Duarte, Hector, postcards and news clippings, 2003, 2009
Box 2 Folder 3 Artists - Guerrero, Jose, article, undated
Box 2 Folder 4 Artists - Raya, Marcos, news clippings, 1994, 1996
Oversize Folder 1   Comité por la Cultura Universal, El Quijote de la Mancha, program poster, 2005
Box 2 Folder 5 Día de los Muertos, flyers, undated
Box 2 Folder 6 Instituto de Nuestra Cultura (INC), exhibit text, 2015
Oversize Folder 1   Instituto Gráfico de Chicago, Grabadolandia event poster, 2022 November 18-20
Box 2 Folder 7 Latino Information Center, flyer, 2005
Box 2 Folder 8 Mexican Fine Arts Center, !Adivina! Latino Chicago Expressions, 1988
Box 2 Folder 9 Mexican Fine Arts Center, brochures and flyers, 1990-1994
Box 2 Folder 10 Mexican Fine Arts Center, brochures and flyers, 1997-2002
Box 6 Folder 1 Mexican Fine Arts Center, The Barrio Murals, 1987
Box 2 Folder 11 Mi Raza Arts Consortium, flyers, 1989-1992
Box 2 Folder 12 Mirarte, arts newsletter, 1982-1983, 1990
Box 2 Folder 13 Museo Mexicano de Bellas Artes, flyers, program, 1990, undated
Box 2 Folder 14 National Museum of Mexican Art, brochures and flyers, 2007-2008, 2012
Box 2 Folder 15 Neighborhood hop, game, 1992
Box 2 Folder 16 Pilsen murals, news clippings and flyers, 1988-2010, undated
Box 2 Folder 17 Pilsen murals, Revista Chicano-Riqueña, article, 1976
Box 2 Folder 18 Pilsen Open Studios, brochure, 2010
Box 2 Folder19 Pros Art Studio, various, 1993-2009
Box 2 Folder 20 Prospectus Art Gallery, flyers, 1991-1992
Box 2 Folder 21 Taller Mexicano de Grabado, brochure, flyers, 1990-1991
Box 2 Folder 22 Yollocalli Arts Reach, flyers, circa 2005

Series 2: Biographical Materials, circa 1940-2009, undated

Scope and Contents

Series 2 contains biographical materials related to Lower West Side residents, including Rudy Lozano, the Mexican American labor activist and community organizer for whom the Chicago Public Library Lozano Branch library was named. The materials include biographical accounts, aldermanic campaign flyers, news clippings and photographs. Series 2 also includes an unpublished autobiography (Box 1, Folder 13) of Emma Rouse King, who was born in the Lower West Side neighborhood in 1879. The manuscript was written in the 1950s and includes King’s girlhood years in Chicago. Photographs and biographical information about King can be found in Box 1, Folders 14.


Series 2 is arranged alphabetically by the person’s last name.

Box 7 Photograph 1.8 Austin, Ruth, 1919 W. Cullerton Street, photograph, circa 1940
Box 3 Folder 1 Cortes, Victor, news clipping, 2009
Box 1 Folder 13 King, Emma Rouse (1879-1956), biographical information, photographs, 1893, 1989
Box 1 Folder 14 King, Emma Rouse, “My Span of Life,” autobiography, [1950s]
Box 3 Folder 2 Lozano, Rudy, biographical materials, 1979, 1983-1985, 2008, undated
Box 3 Folder 3 Lozano, Rudy, campaign button, 1983
Box 3 Folder 4 Lozano, Rudy, campaign materials, 1983
Box 6 Folder 2 Lozano, Rudy, “El Legado de Lozano,” article in ¡Éxito! 2003 June 5
Box 3 Folder 5 Lozano, Rudy, news clippings, 1983-1985, 2003
Box 3 Folder 6 Lozano, Rudy, photographs (6), 1983, undated
Box 3 Folder 7 Munoz, Scottie, news clipping, 1999
Box 3 Folder 8 Negrete Jesús “Chuy,” business cards, information sheets, program flyers, 2001
Box 3 Folder 9 Strouse, Brian, memorial flyer, 2005
Box 3 Folder 10 Velásquez, Carmen, news clipping, 2007

Series 3: Businesses, 1892-2017

Scope and Contents

Series 3 contains documents created by neighborhood businesses or business organizations. The types of materials include a business directory, flyers, newsletters and photographs.


Series 3 is arranged alphabetically by business or organization name.

Box 3 Folder 11 Alivio Medical Centre, newsletter, 2007
Box 3 Folder 12 Eighteenth Street Business Association, letter with news clippings, 1998-1999
Box 3 Folder 13 Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, business directory, 2008
Box 3 Folder 14 Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, newsletters and planning materials, 1990-1992
Box 6 Folder 3 Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, newsletter, 2017 April
Box 3 Folder 15 El Rebozo Restaurant, art exhibit flyers, 1990-1990
Box 7 Photograph 1.1 Heydenreich Drug Store, photographs, 1892-1893
Box 3 Folder 16 Pilsen “Together” Chamber of Commerce, awards, brochure, correspondence, sign-in sheet, 1995-1997
Box 3 Folder 17 San Vito Kermess (restaurant), flyer, circa 1990s
Box 3 Folder 18 Spanish Coalition for Jobs, Inc., flyers, circa 2002
Box 7 Photograph 1.7 T.W. Harvey Lumber Co., photograph, circa 1900

Series 4: Clubs and Organizations, 1924-2010, undated

Scope and Contents

Series 4 contains a variety of printed items on neighborhood organizations, private social service organizations and professional associations. The documentation includes brochures, correspondence, flyers, newsletters, programs and reports.


Series 4 is arranged alphabetically by organization name or subject.

Box 3 Folder 19 Adult education resources, list, undated
Box 3 Folder 20 Casa Aztlan, flyers, newsletters, programs, 1990-2010
Oversize Folder 1   Casa Aztlan, 20th anniversary poster, circa 1995
Box 3 Folder 21 Casa Michoacan, flyers, 2005, 2008
Box 3 Folder 22 C.E.P.A.D.A.. meeting minutes, 1991
Box 3 Folder 23 Center for Neighborhood Technology, The Neighborhood Works, 1990-1991
Box 3 Folder 24 Changing Worlds, brochure, circa 1999
Box 3 Folder 25 Chicago Committee for the Visit of Guauhtemoc Cardenas, program, 1989, 1998
Box 3 Folder 26 Chicano Mental Health Training Program, A Profile of the Spanish Language Population…, 1975
Box 3 Folder 27 Commission de Asuntos Fronterizos, flyers, 2001
Box 3 Folder 28 Communidad Oaxaqueña de Chicago, letter, 1992
Box 3 Folder 29 El Valor, correspondence, invitation, newsletter, 2003, 2005, 2008
Box 1 Folder 8 Gads Hill Center, annual reports, brochures, newsletters, news clippings, 1937-1943
Box 1 Folder 9 Gads Hill Center, historical pageant script, 1938
Box 1 Folder 10 Gads Hill Center, pamphlets and programs, 1924-1943
Box 7 Photograph 1.3 Gads Hill Center, photograph, circa 1930s
Box 3 Folder 30 Harrison Park Advisory Council, letter, 1991
Box 3 Folder 31 Hispanic Literacy Council, flyers, memo, newsletters, 1988-1991
Box 3 Folder 32 Latino Institute, newsletters, 1984, 1997
Box 4 Folder 1 Mujeres Latinas en Acción, brochures, invitations, news clippings, newsletter, 1990-2008
Box 4 Folder 2 National Center for Latinos with Disabilities, newsletter and flyer, 1998
Box 4 Folder 3 Pilsen Alliance, Contested Chicago…, report, 2008, 2010
Box 4 Folder 4 Pilsen Alliance, newsletter, 2007
Box 4 Folder 5 Pilsen Environmental Rights & Reform Organization, flyers, undated
Box 4 Folder 6 Pilsen/Little Village Empowerment Zone Cluster, meeting materials, 1996-1997
Oversize Folder 1   Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC), Fiesta del Sol, poster, 2001 July 26-29
Box 4 Folder 7 Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC), Fiesta del Sol, programs, 1980-1981
Box 4 Folder 8 Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC), Pilsen Industrial Corridor…, report, 1987
Box 4 Folder 9 Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC), The Pilsen Triangle…, study, 1987
Box 4 Folder 10 Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC), convention packet, flyers, news clippings, 1990-1993
Box 4 Folder 11 Pilsen Planning Committee, report, 2006
Box 4 Folder 12 Pilsen YMCA, brochure, flyer, 1989, undated
Box 4 Folder 13 United Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (UNIRR), correspondence, newsletters (Spanish), 1990-1991

Series 5: Historical Sketches and Guidebooks, 1939-2011, undated

Scope and Contents

Series 5 contains manuscript and printed materials related to the history of Pilsen and the Lower West Side. The materials span changing demographics and include articles, booklets, interviews, news clippings and reports, some of which are written in Spanish.


Series 5 is arranged alphabetically by author, title or topic.

Box 4 Folder 14 Aquí Estamos: An Overview of Latino Communities in Greater Chicago, report, 1978
Box 1 Folder 11 Bartolozzi, Lorraine, “Community Study of the Lower West Side,” circa 1930s
Box 4 Folder 15 Chicago Enterprise, article, 1988
Box 6 Folder 4 Chicago Historical Society, Pilsen/La Villita: Nuestro Hogar, Nuestra Lucha, history (2 copies), 1996
Box 4 Folder 16 Chicago’s Pilsen: A Community Profile, 1997
Box 4 Folder 17 Dvorak Park: A History of a Place of the Progressive Era, typescript, 1997
Box 4 Folder 18 Dvorak Park, senior citizen experiences, DVD, 2003
Box 4 Folder 19 El Libro del Barrio (The Book of the Barrio), 1975
Box 1 Folder 15 Hoyt, Homer, “Rebuilding Old Chicago: The Lower West Side,” 1941
Box 4 Folder 20 Language Patterns Among Hispanic Groups in Chicago, report, 1990
Box 4 Folder 21 Latinx communities, articles and news clippings, 1994, 2000, 2007, 2010
Box 4 Folder 22 Pilsen, articles and news clippings, 1939, 1996, 2006, undated
Box 6 Folder 5 Pilsen, articles and news clippings, 1990-1996, 2009
Box 4 Folder 23 Pilsen, community event flyers, 1990, undated
Box 6 Folder 6 Pilsen: El Barrio y su Cultura (2), Hoy special supplement, 2011
Box 4 Folder 24 Pilsen Neighborhood News Bulletin, 1990 July/August
Box 4 Folder 25 The State of Chicago’s Latinos…, report, 1989
Box 4 Folder 26 “!Viva Pilsen!” Time Out Chicago, article, 2009

Series 6: Municipal and Government Agencies, 1911-circa 2015

Scope and Contents

Series 6 contains materials related to 26th Ward municipal projects, aldermanic elections and the Mexican consulate as it relates to residents in that district. The materials include articles, brochures, correspondence, flyers, plans and reports.


Series 6 is arranged alphabetically by topic or name.

Box 5 Folder 1 25th Ward, 2 meeting agendas, 1996
Box 7 Photograph 1.6 Bridge at Halsted and 22nd Streets, photograph, 1911
Box 5 Folder 2 Consuldo General de Mexico, correspondence, flyers, programs, 1991-2003
Box 5 Folder 3 Department of Urban Renewal, 16th-Canal Redevelopment Project, 1977
Box 5 Folder 4 Environmental report on H. Kramer & Co., circa 2005
Box 5 Folder 5 Medrano, Ambrosio, election materials, 1991
Box 5 Folder 6 Mújica, Jorge, election flyer, circa 2015
Box 5 Folder 7 Muñoz, Ricardo, Latino Leaders, article, 2000
Box 5 Folder 8 Pilsen Triangle development, articles, 1988
Box 5 Folder 9 Solis, Daniel (Alderman), brochure, 2008
Box 5 Folder 10 Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), news clippings, 1997-2006
Box 5 Folder 11 Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), Proposal…Chicago River Corridor, 1999
Box 5 Folder 12 Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), protest flyers, 1998
Box 5 Folder 13 Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), report to the Resurrection Project and flyer, 1997

Series 7: Religious Institutions, 1902-2003, undated

Scope and Contents

Series 7 brings together various items from a range of religious organizations on the Lower West Side. The materials include articles, booklets, news clippings, newsletters and programs.


Series 7 is arranged alphabetically by religious organization or event.

Box 5 Folder 14 Good Friday processions, articles, 1990, 1993
Box 1 Folder 1 Mennonite, news clipping, 1939
Box 5 Folder 15 Saint Procopius Church, The First Hundred Years, 1975
Box 1 Folder 2 Saint Procopius Church, postcard, undated
Box 5 Folder 16 San Jose Obrero Mission, correspondence, newsletter, 2000-2003
Box 7 Photograph 1.2 St. Paul’s Church, photograph, 1902
Box 1 Folder 3 Swedish Free Mission, dedication program, 1906
Box 1 Folder 4 Trinity Evangelical [United Church], 22nd Street and Damen Avenue, anniversary booklets, 1909, 1934
Box 1 Folder 5 Trinity Evangelical [United Church], 22nd Street and Damen Avenue, bulletins, 1904-1917
Box 1 Folder 6 Trinity Evangelical [United Church], 22nd Street and Damen Avenue, bulletins, 1939-1944
Box 1 Folder 7 Trinity Evangelical [United Church], 22nd Street and Damen Avenue, Der Dreieinigkeits-Bote/Trinity Herald, newsletter, 1924, 1932-1935, 1939-1941

Series 8: Schools, 1891-circa 2008, undated

Scope and Contents

Series 8 contains documents related to educational organizations in the Lower West Side community. The materials include brochures, flyers, news clippings, photographs, programs and reports.


Series 8 is arranged alphabetically by the name of the educational organization or paper title.

Box 5 Folder 17 Benito Juarez High School, Dropout Prevention Task Force, flyer, 1990
Box 5 Folder 18 Benito Juarez High School, news clippings, 1977
Box 5 Folder 19 Chicago Public Schools, Office of Specialized Services, Friends of Special Education, graduation program, 1999
Box 5 Folder 20 El Centro, education statement, circa 1970s
Box 5 Folder 21 Community Mental Health Program, Pilsen elementary school results, 1970
Box 5 Folder 22 Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, brochures, information packet, news clippings, 1996
Box 5 Folder 23 Instituo del Progresso Latino, brochures, flyers, circa 2008
Box 5 Folder 24 “Involvement in the Action as a Strategy in Applied Urban Anthropological Research,” paper by Stephen L. Schensul, circa 1971
Box 1 Folder 12 Jirka, Komensky, Whittier School, 1938-1940
Box 5 Folder 25 Joseph Jungman Elementary School, retirement program for Mrs. Loredo, 1993
Box 5 Folder 26 Manuel Perez, Jr. Elementary School, dedication, 1990
Box 5 Folder 27 Mexican-American Education and Research Project, paper, undated
Box 5 Folder 28 Orozco Community Academy, invitation, 1991
Box 7 Photograph 1.4 Pickard School, 2nd grade, photograph, 1891
Box 7 Photograph 1.5 Pickard School, 4th grade, photograph, 1891
Box 5 Folder 29 Pilsen Academy, centennial newsletter, 1999
Box 5 Folder 30 Pilsen Children’s Service, survey, 1972
Box 5 Folder 31 Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC), new high school proposal, 1973
Box 5 Folder 32 Project Venceramos, draft proposal, 1972
Box 5 Folder 33 St. Augustine College, flyer, undated
Box 5 Folder 34 West Side Technical Institute, Mexican/Chicana/Chicano/Education Summit, 2003
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