Special Collections

Available by Appointment Only

Request an appointment to visit CPL's special collections and archives.

The Special Collections Division is available for appointments:

  • Monday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Friday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

If you have not made an appointment to view our collections, please call first to confirm availability.

For reference assistance, please contact us by:

  • Email: specoll@chipublib.org. You will receive a response within two business days.
  • Phone: (312) 747-4875

About Us

The Special Collections and Preservation Division, on the 9th floor of the Harold Washington Library Center, showcases rare and unique materials focusing on Chicago as well as the Civil War.

Archival Collections has a list of all CPL collections and finding aids.

Contact Us

Using Special Collections

We welcome visitors by appointment. Given the special nature of our materials, we ask you to conform to security and handling precautions:

  • Complete a registration form and present valid photo ID before receiving materials.
  • Use materials only in the Reading Room.
  • Contact us in advance of your visit if you are interested in unprocessed collections.

Areas of Interest

We have photographs, manuscripts, books, art and artifacts about:

  • Chicago neighborhoods
  • Chicago parks
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Chicago theater
  • Children’s books from Chicago
  • Civil War
  • Mayor Harold Washington
  • Rare books and manuscripts
  • World’s fairs

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