Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection

Notice to Researchers

The Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection Reading Room is closed while Woodson Regional Library undergoes a complete envelope replacement and interior improvements project. Access to materials in the Harsh Research Collection during this time is by appointment only at Harold Washington Library Center.

Woodson Regional Library is expected to reopen in late 2017. In order for staff to prepare for the reopening, the last day for research appointments to use materials from the Harsh Research Collection is September 30. The collection will be available again once Woodson reopens.

Researchers, please make inquiries by:

  • Mail: Harsh Collection, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, 5th Floor, Chicago, Illinois, 60605
  • Email:
  • Phone: (312) 745-2080

We will answer all inquiries within three business days. Requested materials will be made available for research on the 5th floor of Harold Washington Library Center.

To accommodate the retrieval of requested materials, we ask that all research requests be made at least three weeks in advance of your visit. See Archival Collections for a list of all CPL collections and finding aids.

Please note, some materials may not be available for transport to Harold Washington Library Center and would not be available until Woodson Regional Library reopens in 2017.

Thank you for your patience during this time.

About the Harsh Collection

The largest African American history and literature collection in the Midwest, the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature documents the black experience with a strong focus on Chicago.

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

Contact Us

Areas of Interest

We have photographs, manuscripts and books about African American:

  • Biography
  • Business
  • Civil rights
  • Culture
  • Education
  • Genealogy
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Literature
  • Neighborhoods
  • Politics
  • Publishing
  • Religion
  • Slavery
  • Sociology
  • Sports

Additional materials focus on:

  • African history
  • African religion
  • African politics

We also have African American newspapers, magazines and journals, and rare books and manuscripts.

Using Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection

We welcome visitors during our open hours and 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.

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