In the early 1980s, concerns were growing about City of Chicago and Cook County records stored in leaky warehouses where they were inaccessible to the public. Working to rectify this situation was one of the driving forces behind the creation of CAA in 1982. Members assisted with the State Archivist’s inventory of these records and promoted the creation of a central urban repository to house the materials. Today, the records that once languished in damp warehouses can be accessed at the IRAD facility at Northeastern Illinois University.
In the mid-1980s, using information from questionnaires sent to about 900 entities in the eight-county Chicago metro area, CAA compiled a directory of 183 archival repositories. In the days before online resources such as the Illinois Archival Repositories Directory, Archival and Manuscript Repositories in Metropolitan Chicago and the Calumet Region of Northwest Indiana provided locations, hours, fees, description of holdings, and services descriptions of area repositories.
In addition to promoting archives and professional activities, CAA built strong social traditions. The April 1985 newsletter notes, “CAA members have proven in the past that they never need a reason to celebrate with food and drink.” For the annual spring meeting of the Midwest Archives Conference, held in Chicago that year, CAA planned an open house to welcome archivists from around the region. Showing that they indeed were ready to dialogue, these professionally-minded CAA’ers announced “We will supply (the first) three cases of beer and some snacks.”
Today, CAA continues to provide archivists in the Chicago area with opportunities for professional growth and camaraderie, and serves as a central point for sharing news from area repositories. We invite you to join us at our next event and learn more.