Institution Bios

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Chicago State University

History of the University

Chicago State University opened its doors as a teacher training school in a leaky railroad freight car in Blue Island, Illinois on September 2, 1867. Today, in contrast, the university is a fully accredited public, urban institution located on 161-picturesque acres in a residential community on the Southside of Chicago. During the first year of its founding, CSU enrolled 62 students. The current student enrollment is nearly 7,200.

The path from then until now has been marked by change. During more than 140 years, CSU has changed its name, focus, governance and location. But with each transition, the university has kept sight of its educational mission and enhanced its services to Chicago and its surrounding communities.

Under the name of Cook County Normal School, the school found its first permanent home in 1870. Daniel S. Wentworth was the institution’s first principal. The original building contained 27 rooms and a model grammar school. A few years later, Cook County Normal School added a dormitory that earned it a jump in enrollment and a national reputation. The school was acquired by the Chicago Board of Education in 1897, and renamed Chicago Normal School. In 1913, it became Chicago Normal College, and still later Chicago Teachers College. A major change, reflected in a broadening of the college’s curriculum, came in 1965, when control of the school passed into the hands of the State of Illinois. The revamped institution was renamed Illinois Teachers College: Chicago South. Soon after, the legislature acted to remove the title of “teachers college” from all state colleges and universities. In 1967, the school became Chicago State College. Throughout the 1960s, Chicago State expanded its academic programs and began to move toward fulfilling its new, more comprehensive role as a liberal arts institution. The school was renamed Chicago State University in 1971.

In November 1972, the university made the monumental move from its 6800 South Stewart Street campus, where it had been located for 102 years, to its present location at 9501 South King Drive, 12 miles from the Loop. A new student union and a 360-bed residence hall opened in August 1995, giving CSU students an opportunity to experience the convenience of living on campus in an enriched academic, social and cultural environment.

Today, CSU is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Governor of Illinois. The university’s five colleges- Health Sciences, Arts and Science, Business, Education, and Pharmacy - offer 36 undergraduate and 25 graduate degree-granting programs. In addition, CSU has a Division of Continuing Education and Non-Traditional Programs that reach out to the community with extension courses, distance learning and not-for-credit programs.

From its humble origins, Chicago State University has evolved into an outstanding, nationally acclaimed university that provides a value-added education for all who enter its hallowed halls. Consistently evolving to reflect state-of-the-art trends in higher education, Chicago State University prepares students for success in the twenty-first century.

Chicago State University Archives and Special Collections Mission Statement

Chicago State University’s Archives and Special Collections department collects manuscripts and records that reflect the historical, literary, and academic traditions of CSU and the south side community of Chicago. ASC’s core mission lies in its commitment to serve as a resource and learning laboratory; it seeks to stimulate and nourish teaching and learning, serve scholarship, and raise the profile of the University by making CSU records and special collections widely available. ASC also encourages interdisciplinary research by members of the University and broader academic communities. All materials are carefully protected through strict conservation policies, professional processing, and our state of the art library facilities. We also administer the campus records management program, which helps offices and departments comply with the State University Records Retention Schedules.

Collection Areas

CSU Special Collections are focused primarily on African American history, literature, and politics; Chicago Neighborhood History; and the history of education.

The Progressive Education Collection contains material on the early history of Chicago State University (first known as the Cook County Normal School), including writings by some of the early leaders-Francis W. Parker, Arnold Tompkins, and Ella Flagg Young-who made the school an internationally renowned center of progressive education.

The Minority Leadership in America Collection features the paper of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and several of its members who served in the Illinois General Assembly, including Senator Margaret Smith and Representative Paul L. Williams.

The extensive Rare Book section contains the Thomas H. Wirth Collection of African Americana. Included are rare first editions of by authors such as Phillis Wheatley, John Marrant, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Henry O. Flipper, and Sojourner Truth. A second division of the Wirth Collection features 20th century non-fiction by Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Paul Robeson, Kelly Miller, James Weldon Johnson, and Carter G. Woodson.

The Chicago History Collection aims to document social and cultural life in Chicago during the 20th century, with particular attention to the neighborhoods of south side Chicago. Highlights are the Steve Balkin Maxwell Street Photographs, the Chicago Theater Pamphlets, and the CSC Oral History Project.


Illinois State University

Illinois State University serves 20,502 graduate and undergraduate students, 1,180 faculty, 1,142 civil service staff and 792 administrative/professional employees. Hundreds of international students bring their global perspectives to Illinois State. We serve the citizens of Illinois and beyond. Illinois State University will continue to occupy a unique position of strength and visibility among the institutions of higher education in Illinois, the nation, and the world.

Illinois Wesleyan University

Founded in 1850, Illinois Wesleyan has grown to become one of the nation's leading liberal arts institutions. The University enrolls just over 2,000 undergraduates from across the nation and around the globe and our graduates can be found in all 50 states and 52 countries.

The Ames Library opened in 2002 and is staffed by eight tenure track librarians, nine paraprofessionals, and 75 undergraduate student assistants.

Northern Illinois University

Regional History Center The Regional History Center at Northern Illinois totals 10,900 linear feet and encompasses 3 collections: The University Archives, Regional Collections, and the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD). These first two collections are actively growing and continue to receive an ever-increasing number of donations in electronic form. Currently, the majority of these electronic media are printed, and both the storage device and the analog copy are added to the collection. If the material is a born-digital record it is stored on a library's server in a loosely systematic method. We recognize that these is not sustainable practices, but have not yet implemented new policies.

Existing audio-visual content is slowly being digitized as a DVD or stored on a library server. We also continue to digitize our own photographs and parts of collections to share with our patrons, yet we only have the library's server and a disjointed file naming structure. Nearly all are in JGP or TIFF formats.

Content digitized through our library's Digital Initiatives Department are available for patrons via their website. Most digitized photographs are available for viewing on Flickr, but the archived copy, as well as any other collected born-digital material, is not available for public access.

Rare Books and Special Collections Background Profile for Digital Preservation The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is responsible for approximately 140,000 volumes of materials across just under 40 collections. We hold research level materials in popular cultural areas such as dime novels, 19th century children’s and popular literature, comic books, and science fiction and fantasy literature. We have never had a robust digitization program due to lack of funding (digitization in the library was conducted solely via grant funding prior to about 2008, and none of our grant applications were funded). Since 2008, when the in-library funding model changed, there has been a modest attempt at digitizing our dime novel collections. We have, as yet, not built a portal for our digital materials that handles both the objects and discovery metadata, so the true ramp-up of digitization has not yet begun. Once this infrastructure is in place, we expect a significant group of RBSC materials to be digitized and made available. Thus our main concern is in guaranteeing long-term access to our digital materials writ large. We have an additional set of concerns for one of our most rapidly growing collections, 20th and 21st century archival materials related to science fiction and fantasy literature. We hold the papers (some partial) of roughly 60 contemporary (mostly living) SF/F authors. In many cases, authors submit both paper and electronic materials simultaneously. Many of them are in proprietary formats, and a goodly portion of them cannot be made publicly available for quite some time because of copyright. The issue is further exacerbated by the lack of methodology for dealing with email correspondence and social media and blogging accounts, particularly when we are dealing with end-of-life issues for our authors. Our current (stopgap) practice is to transfer submitted electronic documents to the library’s central servers, which are backed up off-campus, and to copy those same files onto two portable hard drives kept in the department, while retaining the original data carrier. We also have a collection Gmail account that allows authors to submit documents directly via email. I’m particularly concerned about guaranteeing the longevity of these materials in particular, as they are truly unique. Caring for them appropriately will require a rather more robust system than we currently have in place, built with thin resources.

Western Illinois University

Founded in 1899 as Western Illinois State Normal School, Western Illinois University has grown to become a Master's-level institution serving the citizens of Illinois, eastern Iowa, and guided by a commitment to our core values of academic excellence, educational opportunity, personal growth, and social responsibility. WIU enrolls approximately 12,000 students on its rural residential campus in Macomb, its urban commuter campus in Moline, and via distance learning worldwide.

Archives and Special Collections at WIU Libraries is committed to digitizing and making available to users worldwide its unique collections, primarily focusing on the history and culture of west central Illinois and of WIU. To date WIU Libraries has digitized and put online over 100 years of its student yearbook, over 5,000 historic regional photographs, regional maps, manuscripts, historical society newsletters, and other valuable regional information. Future materials include the WIU student newspapers, course catalogs, and more regional manuscripts and photographs.

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