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Black history catalogued at new U. of C. website

Jacqueline Goldsby RegensteLibrary University Chicago Friday. | John H. White~Sun-Times

Jacqueline Goldsby at the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago on Friday. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 17, 2010 6:07PM

The unpublished sketches of famed African-American editorial cartoonist Chester Commodore as he struggled to get President Richard Nixon’s nose and President George W. Bush’s ears just right.

A letter from President Harry S. Truman thanking Chicago Defender Publisher John Sengstacke for his advice about desegregating the United States Army.

These and thousands of other fascinating scraps of Chicago black history from the mid-20th Century had lingered in boxes in attics, basements and storage lockers for years. Now, thanks to a just-completed University of Chicago-led project, many of these cultural treasures are available for public viewing. On Friday at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library, researchers unveiled a new website intended to make it easy for the public and scholars alike to locate these African-American artifacts as well as a host of others in the city from the same period in history. Many of the documents and other historical material have since been donated to the project and are now available for review in locations throughout the city.

The website is the “cutting edge portal into discovering primary source materials to study and know black Chicago’s history from the 1930s to the 1970s,” said Jacqueline Goldsby, a former U. of C. professor who headed up the three-year project.

The project involved not only poring over boxes of materials in private homes, but also working with materials stored and collecting dust at the DuSable Museum of African-American History and the South Side Community Art Center, among other well-known black institutions. Goldsby worked with U. of C. graduate students to sort and catalogue the artifacts.

To learn more about the project or to start your own research, visit

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