Chicago Renaissance

The Black Chicago Renaissance was a creative movement when activism and scholarship flourished with the prodigious work of African American community leaders, performers, artists, writers and activists.

During and after the Great Depression (1930s-1950s), African Americans in Chicago created a new community on the South Side that was distinctly their own.

In literature the Black Chicago Renaissance was represented by such giants as Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, Arna Bontemps and Fenton Johnson. The explosion of musical creativity in Bronzeville’s clubs and concert halls ranged from classical to jazz and from gospel to blues and pop. A new social science of Black urban life was born with the writing of St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton’s Black Metropolis. The art of William McBride, William Edouard Scott, Gordon Parks, Archibald Motley, Jr. and other local Chicago Black artists defined the era.

Photographs in the Chicago Renaissance exhibit are housed in the Harsh Collection.

More CPL Resources

Finding Aids
The descriptive inventories for other related archival collections.
African American Digital Collections
Digital collections that include materials documenting Black history in the United States.