West Side Historical Society Records

Dates: 1930-1955
Size: 7.75 linear feet, 21 photographs, 1 audiotape
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_WSHS
Provenance: The collection was originally housed at Chicago Public Library's Legler Branch Library. In the 1980s, with a grant from the Dr. Scholl Foundation, Special Collections transferred and processed the collection to make it fully available for research by the public. Processed February 1989. Additional boxes added to collection in 2018.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: West Side Historical Society Records [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.

Historical Note

The exact founding date of the West Side Historical Society (hereafter referred to as the WSHS) is unclear. It is recorded by Miss Pearl L. Field, librarian at the Legler branch of Chicago Public Library and honorary life president of the WSHS, that the Society was organized sometime in either 1929 or 1930. The WSHS took as its mission to search out the west side’s pioneer families, the boundaries of its settlements, and the story of the west side’s development as neighborhoods.

The WSHS was closely associated with the Legler Library for almost twenty-five years. Its meetings were held there, the Society’s exhibits were displayed there, and the library provided storage space and staff expertise for the Society’s historical collections.

Sometime in the late 1950s, the WSHS disbanded.

Scope and Content

The Papers of the WSHS have been arranged in subject series ranging from Administrative Papers to Tours to Scrapbooks. A fairly complete picture emerges from the papers of the functioning of an active community historical group which succeeded in preserving a significant quality of its city’s historical record.

Arrangement/Series Description

Series 1: Administrative Papers, 1930-1943.

This series contains the WSHS’S administrative papers, including papers relating to the WSHS’s constitution and by-laws, collection development policy, programming, and publicity activities. An extensive record of the Society’s correspondence has also been preserved here, as well as transcripts from a weekly radio quiz show featuring questions about Chicago’s west side. The series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series 2: Annual Meetings, 1930-1955.

This series consists of an almost complete record of the WSHS’s annual meetings. Information concerning finances, membership, programs, and other officially sanctioned activities are found in this series. The materials are arranged chronologically.

Series 3: Committees, circa 1930s-1940s.

This small series records the activities of two WSHS committees: the Membership Committee and the Research Committee. Of the two committees, the Research Committee’s records are far more extensive and the papers preserved here give an excellent accounting of that group’s endeavors.

Series 4: Contests, circa 1930s-1940s.

In an attempt to engender an appreciation of local history in west side high school students, the WSHS sponsored historical contests and competitions. Organizing the contests required a great amount of effort, as can be attested to by the records in this series. Also included are a sampling of historical essays submitted by west side high school students on a variety of local historic topics. This series is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Series 5: Executive Board Meetings, 1932-1954.

The WSHS’s Executive Board met frequently, sometimes holding three or four meetings each year. In these meetings board members would set an agenda for the forthcoming general membership meetings, schedule events and presentations, and discuss plans for the Society’s future. This series is a good source for examining the Society’s general administrative practices, and is arranged chronologically.

Series 6: Tours, 1936-1954.

Almost every year, the WSHS’s Executive Board would offer WSHS members an opportunity to go on an historical tour. This small series chronicles the arrangements, attendance, and publicity associated with this very popular WSHS sponsored activity. The tour records have been arranged in chronological order.

Series 7: Scrapbooks, circa 1930s-1940s.

This series contains three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, memorabilia and miscellaneous materials compiled, apparently, by Legler Library staff.

Photographs, 1931-1952

Photographs appear, organized into similar series as described above, but also including three images from West Side Day at the 1948 Railroad Fair.

SUPPLEMENT 1: Administrative Papers, 1929-1965, Box 8, Folders 18-39

After the original processing of the West Side Historical Society papers, several boxes of additional material were found. This material was distributed among eighteen of the NHRC sub-collections, including the WSHS collection. These are strictly administrative papers; material more correctly thought of as historical collections was put into the neighborhood collections. However, this group of papers does include some excellent resources, particularly the correspondence from the 1930s concerning the Abraham Lincoln family and his widow’s Chicago home of the 1860s (folders 8:30, 31). The series of correspondence has been arranged to highlight the names of some of the more famous or voluminous writers.

This series occupies folders 8:18-37. Considerable material concerning WSHS tours was cataloged with this material, resulting in a total reorganization of Series 6 of the original collection (folders 8:1-17).

Supplement 2: Series 8: Subject and Address Indexes, undated

Thirteen shoeboxes contain card file indexes maintained by the WSHS. Boxes 9-16 are organized by subject, with some cards referencing items in this collection. More valuable to researchers, however, are the many cards that refer to articles in local West Side newspapers such as The Garfieldian and The Austinite. City-wide newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Daily News are also indexed. These cards do not offer full, comprehensive indices for any of these papers, but they do provide useful points of access for certain subjects.

Boxes 17-21 contain name and address indexes. Box 17 appears to have the names of WSHS members. Box 18 includes addresses for area clubs and organizations with whom WSHS was in contact. Beginning at the end of Box 18, through Box 21, is a name and address index for servicemen. It is unclear what connection these servicemen had to WSHS or in what war they fought.

Container List

Series 1: Administrative Papers

Box 8 Folder 18 Annual Report—General Not for Profit Corporation Act; 1962-65
Box 8 Folder 19 Blank letterhead & blank forms
Box 1 Folder 1 Bulletin, 1936-1938
Box 1 Folder 2 Collection, Development Guidelines, circa 1934-1938
Box 8 Folder 20 Constitution—Original draft [1929?]; By-laws, 1938
Box 1 Folder 3 Constitution, by-laws, and general history, 1936, 1935
Box 1 Folder 4 Correspondence: undated
Box 1 Folders 5-6 Correspondence: 1936
Box 1 Folders 7-8 Correspondence: 1937
Box 1 Folders 9-10 Correspondence: 1938
Box 2 Folders 1-3 Correspondence: 1938
Box 2 Folders 4-9 Correspondence: 1939
Box 2 Folder 10 Correspondence: 1940
Box 3 Folders 1-4 Correspondence: 1940
Box 3 Folders 5-6 Correspondence: 1941
Box 8 Folder 21 Correspondence; 1942-1957, undated
Box 8 Folder 29 Correspondence--Advice from other historical societies; 1933-1935
Box 8 Folder 30 Correspondence--Abraham Lincoln materials & reminiscences of Lincoln family; 1931-1937
Box 8 Folder 22 Correspondence--Bond, Carrie Jacobs; 1939
Box 8 Folder 23 Correspondence--Burroughs, Edgar Rice Inc.; 1940
Box 8 Folder 32 Correspondence--Re General Haller of Poland; 1938
Box 8 Folder 24 Correspondence--Goodman, Benny (Secretary to); 1940
Box 8 Folder 31 Correspondence--Identity of Mary Todd Lincoln home; 1931-1937
Box 8 Folder 25 Correspondence--Keeney, Albert F., 1941-1948
Box 8 Folder 26 Correspondence--Madigan, George P. and J.D.; 1941-1945
Box 8 Folder 27 Correspondence--Miller, John Calvin; 1943-1952
Box 8 Folder 28 Correspondence--Shumon, Ted; 1956-1958
Box 8 Folder 33 Correspondence with speakers; 1934-1946
Box 3 Folders 7-8 Directories, 1930-1945
Box 8 Folder 38 Field, Pearl I., "An historical society in the Library"—Wilson Bulletin (XI: 7); 1937 Mar
Box 8 Folder 34 Finances; 1956-1958
Box 3 Folder 9 High school chapters: Minutes, undated
Box 8 Folder 39 Life Membership certificate book (blank certificate); 1941
Box 8 Folder 35 Meeting invitations & programs; 1938-1955
Box 8 Folder 36 Membership drives; 1935, undated
Box 8 Folder 37 Miscellaneous notes, ideas; memos re collections
Box 4 Folder 1 Programming: Teas, 1938
Box 4 Folders 2-3 Publicity: Radio quiz questions, 1942-1943
Box 4 Folder 4 Publicity: Radio quiz correspondence, 1942-1943

Series 2: Annual Meetings

Box 4 Folder 5 Proceedings: Oct. 10, 1930
Box 4 Folder 6 Proceedings: Oct. 19, 1931
Box 4 Folder 7 Proceedings: Oct. 10, 1932
Box 4 Folder 8 Proceedings: Oct. 10, 1933
Box 4 Folder 9 Proceedings: 1934
Box 4 Folder 10 Proceedings: Nov. 18, 1935
Box 4 Folder 11 Proceedings: Oct. 19, 1936
Box 4 Folder 12 Proceedings: April 12, 1937
Box 4 Folder 13 Proceedings: Oct. 25, 1937
Box 4 Folder 14 Proceedings: Oct. 17, 1938
Box 4 Folders 15-18 Proceedings: 1939
Box 4 Folders 19-20 Proceedings: 1940
Box 5 Folders 1-3 Proceedings: 1941
Box 5 Folders 4-6 Proceedings: 1942
Box 5 Folders 7-9 Proceedings: 1943
Box 5 Folders 10-12 Proceedings: 1944
Box 5 Folders 13-14 Proceedings: 1945
Box 6 Folder 1 Proceedings: Oct. 8, 1945
Box 6 Folder 2 Proceedings: 1946
Box 6 Folder 3 Proceedings: March 4, 1947, Oct. 17, 1947
Box 6 Folder 4 Proceedings: March 19, 1948
Box 6 Folders 5-6 Proceedings: 1949
Box 6 Folders 7-8 Proceedings: 1950
Box 6 Folders 9-10 Proceedings: 1951
Box 6 Folders 11-12 Proceedings: 1952
Box 6 Folder 13 Proceedings: 1953
Box 6 Folders 14-15 Proceedings: 1954. Paul Angle, speaker. [See also Tape #T1]
Box 6 Folders 16-17 Proceedings: 1955

Series 3: Committees

Box 6 Folder 18 Membership Committee, 1938
Box 6 Folder 19 Research Committee, circa 1930s-1940s

Series 4: Contests

Box 6 Folder 20 Correspondence and announcements, circa 1930s-1940s
Box 6 Folder 21 Elementary schools, circa 1930s
Box 7 Folder 1 High schools: "A testimony to Robinson,” undated
Box 7 Folders 2-3 High schools: "A.C. Ellithorpe,” undated
Box 7 Folder 4 High schools: "Eleanor Smith at Smith House,” undated
Box 7 Folder 5 High schools: "The story of sister May,” undated
Box 7 Folder 6 High schools: "Dr. Joseph B. DeLee,” undated
Box 7 Folder 7 High schools: "Rev. Arnold Damen,” undated
Box 7 Folder 8 High schools: "The story of Anna Braude,” undated
Box 7 Folder 9 High schools: "Bishop Sheil’s work among west side youths,” undated
Box 7 Folder 10 High schools: "The story of Carter H. Harrison,” undated
Box 7 Folder 11 Middle schools: Assorted titles, undated
Box 7 Folder 12 Photographic contest, 1936-1937

Series 5: Executive Board Meetings

Box 7 Folder 13 Minutes: 1932
Box 7 Folder 14 Minutes: 1933
Box 7 Folder 15 Minutes: 1934
Box 7 Folder 16 Minutes: 1935
Box 7 Folders 17-18 Minutes: 1936
Box 7 Folders 19-20 Minutes: 1937
Box 7 Folders 21-23 Minutes: 1938
Box 7 Folder 24 Minutes: 1939
Box 7 Folders 25-28 Minutes: 1940
Box 7 Folder 29 Minutes: 1941
Box 7 Folders 30-31 Minutes: 1942
Box 7 Folders 32-33 Minutes: 1943
Box 7 Folder 34 Minutes: 1944
Box 7 Folders 35-36 Minutes: 1945
Box 7 Folder 37 Minutes: 1946
Box 7 Folder 38 Minutes: 1947
Box 7 Folder 39 Minutes: 1952
Box 7 Folder 40 Minutes: 1953
Box 7 Folder 41 Minutes: 1954

Series 6: Tours

Box 8 Folder 1 Tour; 1936 May and Oct (Haymarket riots/Willow Springs)
Box 8 Folder 2 Tour; 1937 Apr (Path of 1871 fire)
Box 8 Folder 3 Tour; 1938 May (Desplaines River)
Box 8 Folder 4 Tour: 1939 May (Palos Hills: canceled?)
Box 8 Folder 5 Tour; 1939 Oct (Palos Hills)
Box 8 Folder 6 Tour; 1940 June (Plainfield, IL)
Box 8 Folder 7 Tour; 1940 Oct (Indian localities)
Box 8 Folder 8 Tour; 1941 May (Indian Mounds)
Box 8 Folder 9 Tour; 1946 May (City of Chicago)
Box 8 Folder 10 Tour; 1947 June (Des Plaines River)
Box 8 Folder 11 Tour; 1948 June (Illinois & Michigan Canal)
Box 8 Folder 12 Tour; 1949 June (Indian country)
Box 8 Folder 13 Tour; 1950 June (Sanitary & Ship canal)
Box 8 Folder 14 Tour; 1951 June (Congress Street highway/Medical Ctr. Dist.)
Box 8 Folder 15 Tour; 1952 June (Black Hawk Trail)
Box 8 Folder 16 Tour; 1953 June (100-mile bus tour)
Box 8 Folder 17 Tour; 1954 June (All-day boat trip: canceled)

Series 7: Scrapbooks

Three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, memorabilia, and other materials documenting activities of the West Side Historical Society; 1930s and 1940s.

Series 8: Subject and Name Indices, undated

Box 9 Subjects A-B
Box 10 Subjects C
Box 11 Subjects D-Ga
Box 12 Subjects Ga-K
Box 13 Subjects L-M
Box 14 Subjects N-Sch
Box 15 Subjects Schools-V
Box 16 Subjects W-Z
Box 17 [WSHS Member?] Addresses, A-Z. Includes Austin Historical Society and Golden Weddings listings
Box 18 Neighborhood club and organization addresses, A-Z.
Servicemen names and addresses, A-Broc
Box 19 Servicemen names and addresses, Brod-Ha
Box 20 Servicemen names and addresses, He-Ok
Box 21 Servicemen names and addresses, Ol-Z

PHOTOGRAPHS

All photographs in the West Side Historical Society collection are cataloged under Clubs and Organizations. See also snapshot photos of various tours in folders 8:1-17.

Board of Directors

Photograph 1.1 Board of Directors; 1948 Mar 11 (2 copies)

Meetings

Photograph 1.2 1931 Oct 19 Early Settlers Meeting
Photograph 1.3 1932 Oct Annual Meeting
Photograph 1.4 1944 Oct Early Settlers Meeting
Photograph 1.5 1945 Oct 8 Early Settlers Meeting
Photograph 1.6 1945 Oct 14 Early Settlers Meeting
Photograph 1.7 1948 Mar 19 General Meeting: West Division High School alumni
Photographs 1.8-1.9 1949 Apr 5 Group
Photograph 1.9a 1949 Apr 5 Joe and Mabel Paul, performers at meeting
Photograph 1.10 1949 Apr 5 Helen Babcock & Pearl Field (2 copies)
Photograph 1.11 1952 May 20 Student looks at display at meeting
Photograph 1.12 undated Stanley Pargellis, speaker
Photograph 1.13 undated Stanley Pargellis, speaker, with others (unidentified)

Exhibit

Photograph 1.14 Exhibit [in window of Midwest News?]; undated

West Side Day at Railroad Fair; 1949 July 8

Photograph 1.15 Replica of pioneer engine
Photograph 1.16 Beauty queens of West Side
Photograph 1.17 Jimmy Shea’s Irish Dancers

Contests

Photograph 1.18 Trophy awarded to Steinmetz High School; 1937
Photograph 1.19 Trophy awarded to Steinmetz High School; 1939
Photograph 1.20 Trophy awarded to Steinmetz High School; 1941
Photograph 1.21 High School Quiz Contest participants; [1946?]
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