University of Chicago Researcher Preserves the Archives of the Chicago Defender

Robert A. Sengstacke has donated the archival records of the Chicago Defender to the Chicago Public Library. The Chicago Defender is one of the oldest black newspapers in the country. It is also among the most prestigious.

The photographs and documents had been stored in 100 large boxes in a humid attic in Chicago’s West Loop. Jacqueline Goldsby, an associate professor of English at the University of Chicago, along with several graduate students, sorted through the material. The archiving took 18 months.

As part of the agreement, the University of Chicago Library will create and maintain a digital archive of the collection, including an online repository of 4,000 original photographs.

Professor Goldsby holds a Ph.D. from Yale University. She is the author of the 2006 award-winning book, A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature.