Susan Rosenblum Papers

Dates: 1980-1991
Size: 0.25 linear feet in 1 box
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: spe.c00186
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Donated by Susan Rosenblum, 2021
Conditions Governing Access: Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use: Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Preferred Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Susan Rosenblum Papers [Box 1, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library
Finding Aid Author: Rachel Esser, 2022


This small collection consists of case studies, legal documents, reports, pamphlets and booklets connected to Susan B. Rosenblum’s work in Chicago in the 1980s. Items in the collection relate to three distinct areas of focus: displacement in the Uptown neighborhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the 1984 closing of the Playskool toy factory in West Humboldt Park and the creation of the non-profit Chicago Consortium of Worker Education in 1989.

Biographical / Historical

Throughout her career, Susan B. Rosenblum worked for both governmental and non-profit organizations in roles related to labor and employment policy and advocacy.

In Chicago, Rosenblum served as the Project Director of the Westside Jobs Network, the Assistant Director of Strategic Planning at the Mayor’s Office of Employment Training (under Mayors Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer) and the Executive Director of the Chicago Consortium for Worker Education. She was also a volunteer with the Uptown People’s Law Center.

In Washington D.C., she served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), coordinated a national Workforce Development for Poverty Reduction project for the National League of Cities and worked as a Program Analyst for the United States Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General.

The materials in this collection document the trajectory of Rosenblum’s work in Chicago, and relate to three distinct areas of focus.

Displacement in the Uptown neighborhood: In 1975, residents of Broadway Courtyards, a low-income housing complex operated by the United States Department of Housing and Development (HUD), filed a lawsuit in federal court to fight displacement from the neighborhood. The suit charged that the real estate developer who purchased the building and evicted its residents was involved in a conspiracy to destroy the integrated community that had developed there.

The closing of the Playskool toy factory in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood: In 1984, Hasbro/Milton Bradley, the parent company of Playskool, closed its factory in West Humboldt Park. The closure led to the loss of over 700 jobs—held primarily by Black and Latina women —and prompted the City of Chicago to file a lawsuit against the company for breach of contract. The lawsuit stemmed from a $1 million grant the city awarded to Milton Bradley in 1980 for agreeing to retain 1,110 jobs and create 400 more. The city settled out of court in 1985.

The Chicago Consortium for Worker Education (CCWE): The Chicago Consortium for Worker Education, established in 1989, was the first city-wide nonprofit organization to support unions and employers in providing employees with workplace-based classes in adult basic skills, English-as-a-Second-Language and related subjects. CCWE offered classes directly at worksites, including Heinemann’s Bakeries, University of Chicago Hospitals, Nabisco and Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Scope and Contents

This small collection consists of two large case studies, legal documents and reports, two pamphlets, and one booklet.

Of particular historic value are the two case studies: The 1980 report from the Avery Anti-Displacement Clearinghouse (Folder 1), a collection of interviews with displaced tenants of the Broadway Courts housing complex documenting tenants’ fears about displacement and its potential impacts; and Judith Wittner’s manuscript Ordinary Struggles: The Career of Unrest Among Women Factory Workers (Folder 4), which details the impact of the Playskool factory closing on 30 of its women workers through extensive interviews. From Wittner’s perspective, the closing of the Playskool factory mirrors the rise and decline of Chicago manufacturing enterprises employing women.


Folders have been grouped by topic and arranged chronologically within each topic.

Related Materials

Subject Terms

  • Economic development
  • Gentrification—Illinois—Chicago
  • Housing—Illinois—Chicago
  • Labor movement—Illinois—Chicago
  • Labor unions
  • Mayor's Office of Employment and Training (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Midwest Center for Labor Research (U.S.)
  • Playskool
  • Rosenblum, Susan B.
  • United States. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Uptown (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Urban renewal—Illinois—Chicago
  • Women, Working—history—United States

Collection Inventory

Box 1 Folder 1 Chicago Consortium for Worker Education - First Chicago Labor Conference for Worker Education, conference report, 1988 December
Box 1 Folder 2 Chicago Consortium for Worker Education - Chicago Consortium for Worker Education pamphlets, circa 1989
Box 1 Folder 3 Chicago Consortium for Worker Education - Chicago Consortium for Worker Education, Heinemann’s Finest English as a Second Language class booklet, 1989 November-1990 February
Box 1 Folder 4 Playskool factory - Giloth, Robert and Susan Rosenblum, “How to Fight Plant Closings,” in Social Policy, 1987 Winter, p. 20-26
Box 1 Folder 5 Playskool factory - Wittner, Judith, Ordinary Struggles: The Career of Unrest Among Women Factory Workers, manuscript for conference presentation, 1991 October
Box 1 Folder 6 Uptown displacement - Rosenblum, Susan, The Scars of Displacement: What Statistics Don’t Tell, Avery Anti-Displacement Clearinghouse, 1980 August
Box 1 Folder 7 Uptown displacement - Avery, Leroy et al. v Pierce, Samuel et al., Notice of Motion, 1988 January
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