Collaborative Chicago Archives Center

Dear Dominican Family, 

With this letter, we share with you an exciting initiative emerging here in Chicago. A brief summary of the plan is that we are hoping to start a “Collaborative Chicago Archives Center” downtown in the Loop which will involve congregations of both women and men religious who need a place for their archives very soon, and in the future as well. 

This is a preservation project with two dimensions.  We are saving a series of historic buildings from destruction, while at the same time helping save our priceless Dominican (and other religious) archives. Our vision is to make this a collaborative space where many communities, religious or not, can share resources to help preserve our histories for the future and save costs by working together.  For Dominican University, we are hoping to make this a training center for future archivists, librarians, and other information professionals.   We believe that there is no similar situation in the United States: a site that preserves many archives married to a graduate school of information studies.  

Last week we had a very successful press conference announcing our idea to house a collaborative archive in the heart of Chicago, and at the same time solve the challenges our Dominican communities are facing as many prepare to reach completion in the not-too-distant future. We had over 90 media outlets who were sent the information, and a petition on over the week that has moved from a handful of supporters to over 20,000 within the week.  We invite you to join us in signing it. We were featured on public television in Chicago, our local ABC affiliate, and other venues. See some of the press coverage below.   

For brief news articles with images click on these two links:

For a recording of the press conference, please see the following:

Our state senator, Dick Durbin, has expressed interest in preserving these buildings, as long as safety concerns for the close by federal courthouse are met, and our plan does exactly that. The proximity of these buildings to the Dirksen Federal Building makes them unsuitable for commercial or residential use. Our plan for a collaborative archive with its security requirement dovetails nicely with the needs of the neighboring federal judges and employees. 

We welcome any questions you may have and ask that you share this with your networks.  

And of course, we also welcome your prayers.  

-Christopher Allison, Director of the Mary Nona McGreal, OP, Center for Dominican Historical Studies at Dominican University, River Forest, IL. -Sr. Mary Navarre, OP, Director of Archives, Grand Rapids Dominicans, Grand Rapids, MI.