About Special Collections & University Archives
Special Collections and University Archives, as part of the University Library, supports, enhances and collaborates in the education, research and service activities of the University. We acquire, process, describe, maintain and provide access to the historical papers of people and organizations. You can access these collections in the Special Collections and University Archives reading rooms in the Richard J. Daley Library or in the Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, our reading rooms are open on a limited basis. Learn more about visiting and requesting an appointment.
Our Policies & Statements
Access and Use Statement
Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is open to the public—to students, faculty, outside researchers and members of the community—regardless of institutional affiliation. Patrons who wish to use our materials on-site must complete a patron registration form, present a valid photo ID, and agree to follow SCUA reading room rules in order to use the collection.
SCUA adheres to the Guidelines for Access to Original Research Materials, a joint statement of the American Library Association and the Society of American Archivists. In accordance with these guidelines, we will “not deny access to materials to any researcher, nor grant privileged or exclusive use of materials to any researcher, nor conceal the existence of any body of material from any researcher, unless required to do so by statutory authority, institutional mandate, or donor or purchase stipulation.” The same policy applies to any born-digital or electronic records held by SCUA.
Researchers assume full responsibility for conforming with the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright that may be involved in the use of collections. Researchers are responsible for alerting staff if they find material that should be protected.
Some of our collections have restricted access. Restrictions are noted on the finding aid, as well as the relevant box and folder titles. Certain archival records may be restricted indefinitely or for a set period of time. Other archival records may require special permission from the donor. Some restrictions permit researchers to view archival records in our Reading Rooms provided they sign a confidentiality form stating that they will take no notes about the names of individuals and they cannot make any reproductions or take photographs. Access, including reproductions, will not be permitted to researchers unable to visit our Reading Rooms. Some restrictions are “use restrictions” and are put in place to safeguard fragile materials or to alert researchers that certain items–e.g., audio reels or zip disks–might not be viewable.
Archival records containing Protected Health Information (PHI) will be restricted for 50 years after the individual’s date of death. In cases where we are unable to determine the date of death, the records will be restricted for 75 years from the date of creation. Photographs of patients where authorization/informed consent to release is in doubt, or show specific medical conditions, specific treatment, or diagnosis-specific settings will be restricted. In some cases, the unit head may approve redactions in order to open valuable materials sooner.
Archival records containing information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) will be restricted for 75 years from the date of their creation. This applies to archival records in both University Archives and Manuscripts. This does not apply to theses, dissertations, or archival records where permission was obtained from the student. Directory information as defined by FERPA will be released to the public unless the student or their family has requested that the school not disclose directory information about them. In some cases, the unit head may approve redactions in order to open valuable materials sooner.
Approved July 2021
Collection Development Policy
Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) acquires, preserves and make available rare and unique materials including rare books, oral histories, university archives, manuscripts, photography, visual materials, and born-digital records. Collections are preserved to support scholarship, teaching, and learning by students and faculty of the University of Illinois Chicago and by the scholarly community at large.
SCUA seeks to document the broadest possible range of human experience. We will consciously work to augment the documentation of the experiences of those currently underrepresented in our holdings.
Manuscripts and Rare Books
Collection areas include materials from individuals, civic groups, government and non-profit agencies, businesses, religious organizations, cultural organizations, and other entities that reflect the diverse history and culture of Chicago and the Chicagoland area. Manuscripts include primary resources that document Chicago-related post-World War II politics and advocacy; design history; women’s political activism; social justice; Century of Progress World’s Fair; health science history (including nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, and medicine); and the Jane Addams and the settlement house movement.
The primary focus of the Rare Books section at the Daley Library in Chicago is the political, social, architectural and literary history of Chicago. We also have collections that pertain to Black artists’ books, military history, Native American culture and the Caribbean. At the Library of Health Sciences, the strengths of the Rare Books Section are neurology, urology, dermatology, and the history of medicine. We also hold collections of early anatomies, herbals, pharmacopeias, and formularies.
University Archives collects materials from University departments that have historic value as defined in the Illinois State Records Act (5 ILCS 160/) and University of Illinois System Records Retention Schedule. University Archives also collects relevant materials that document the historical legacy of the University of Illinois Chicago, including its predecessors, student life, and faculty research. University Archives contains documents, photographs, artifacts, audio-visual recordings and born-digital records related to the history of UIC.
Approved: July 2020 (abbreviated policy)
Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), a department within the University Libraries at the University of Illinois at Chicago, collects, preserves, and provides access to unique and rare historical materials in selected subject areas and promotes the use of these materials by the UIC community, K-12 students, researchers, the general public, the media and lifelong learners. Our goal is to advance scholarship and further the educational, research and other activities of the university.
Approved June 2020
Potential Offensive Materials and Language Statement
Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), a department within the University Libraries at the University of Illinois Chicago, collects, preserves, and provides access to unique and rare historical materials. These materials are products of their time and place and may represent positions, norms, values, and language which researchers may find offensive. By providing access to these records in our reading room and through our digital collections, we recognize that archives and rare books can play a vital role in holding those creators accountable. They provide information and document perspectives from the past. We are not endorsing these perspectives. However, for research purposes it essential for informed critique to provide the voices of the creators of these materials.
Researchers may find some of the language we use to describe our collections offensive or harmful. Our finding aids, inventory lists, digital object metadata, exhibits, social media, and other collection descriptions–any of those may occasionally re-use language provided by creators or by former holders of the materials. This is done either because it provides important historical context about the materials or it documents the issues and social context of a specific time and the attitudes and opinions of the people who created the material.
For both archival collections and books, we follow the standard practice of using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) for better searching in our library catalog. We are aware that some vocabularies are outdated and may contain offensive or harmful language and are implementing practices to address offensive or harmful language as part of routine description work.
We welcome your feedback. We can learn and we can adjust our practices. If you encounter language in any of our collection descriptions that you find offensive or harmful, please send us your feedback, questions, or concerns. Staff will review the description and, if possible, update it in a way that balances the preservation of original context with an awareness of the effect of language on our users.
While there are no current national archival standards that outline guidance for remediating harmful language in archival description, this statement is informed by the Anti-Racist Description Resources by Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia; the Temple University Libraries SCRC Statement on Potentially Harmful Language in Archival Description and Cataloging; and University of North Carolina Greensboro SCUA Offensive Materials & Language Statement.
Approved July 2021
In making material available, the University Library acts in good faith to acknowledge creators, adhere to copyright, respect privacy and comply with all applicable rules and laws. However, we recognize that from time-to-time material published online may be in breach of copyright laws or contain sensitive personal data. If you are concerned that you have found material on our website for which you have not given permission, or which contravenes copyright, privacy laws or other laws or which is obscene or defamatory, please contact us.