The Woodson Branch of the Chicago Public Library Shines a Spotlight on “The Negro in Illinois”

Woodson book event

On Saturday, September 28, the Carter G. Woodson Regional branch of The Chicago Public Library was the site of a celebration of the publication of The Negro in Illinois. The event included a panel discussion with scholars including the book’s editor, Brian Dolinar.

A distinguished panel of scholars of African American History spoke at the event:Darlene Clark Hine (Northwestern), Adam Green (University of Chicago), and Christopher Reed (Roosevelt). The event was taped and aired on C-SPAN’s Book TV. It can be viewed online here.

The location of the event was appropriate due to the library’s close ties to the project.  The Negro in Illinois was initially produced by a special division of the Illinois Writers Project, one of President Roosevelt’s WPA programs. It was researched by a team of more than 100 writers, activists and scholars, including Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, Katherine Dunham, and Richard Durham. Beginning with Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, and tracing Illinois Black history and culture through more than 150 years, this study was unprecedented.

The project went dormant and unpublished as the WPA was closed down with U.S. entry into World War II. The research materials and many book chapters were given to Vivian G. Harsh, founder of the Chicago Public Library collection, housed at the Woodson Regional Library.

Pictured, from L to R:  Michael Flug, Adam Green, Brian Dolinar and Christopher Reed.  Not pictured here, but present at the event and speaking on the panel, was Darlene Clark Hine.

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