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"The movies are popular in the Negro section of Chicago, Illinois" (Detail)
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Black Film in Chicago

Research Sites

The following is a partial list of local libraries, centers and archives housing materials and hosting programs related to Black cinema and film culture.

Vivian G. Harsh Collection, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, Chicago Public Library
Named for the first Black librarian in the Chicago Public Library system, this is the largest African American history and literature collection in the Midwest.

Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library
Main branch of the Chicago Public Library. Note in particular the Library’s
    Visual and Performing Arts Division
    Bibliography on African Americans in Film and Television

DuSable Museum of African American History

Chicago Historical Society
In addition to materials documenting Chicago’s rich African American history, the CHS presents a range of exhibits, including the recent “Half Past Autumn: The Art of Gordon Parks” (Spring 2004) documenting Parks’ career as a photographer, novelist, poet, composer and, filmmaker (The Learning Tree, 1969 and Shaft, 1971)

Theatre Historical Society of America
Located in suburban Elmhurst, IL, the Society has materials on historic theatres in Chicago and across the United States -- from 19th century opera houses, early nickelodeons, small town and neighborhood theatres, to ornate movie palaces, drive-ins, and early multiplexes.

Northwestern University
The Marjorie I. Mitchell Multimedia Center has particularly strong holdings in “Africana Video Collection” and “African American Studies Documentaries”.

Columbia College
See also Columbia’s Center for Black Music Research.

DePaul University
See also DePaul’s Center for Black Diaspora , which features regular screenings of African Diaspora films and public lectures by the filmmakers, as well as the DePaul Libraries’ “Films of African and the Black Diaspora: A Selection of Resources & Research Guide.”

Chicago State University

Illinois Institute of Technology
IIT is located on the former site of Chicago’s Black Belt “Stroll” on South State Street. The IIT Archives in the Paul V. Galvin Library hold records pertaining to community life, protest and development in the area.