Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Records, 1895-2011
- TitleGuide to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Records1895-2011
- PublisherUniversity of Chicago Library
- Physical Description161.25 linear feet (248 boxes, 5 oversize folders)
- RepositorySpecial Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.
- AbstractThe Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference was formed in 1949 to "to build and maintain a stable interracial community of high standards." The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, meeting agendas and minutes, budgets and fundraising material, by-laws, directories, reports; press releases, surveys, newsletters, brochures, clippings, photographs, an audio reel, maps, posters, flyers, pamphlets, booklets, and other documents representing the activities of the Conference. Materials date between 1895 and 2011, with the bulk of the material dating from 1949 to 2000. The records primarily document the administrative functions of the Conference and its program activities related to urban renewal.
© The contents of this finding aid are the copyright of the University of Chicago Library
Chicago and Illinois
Hyde Park-Kenwood-Woodlawn Neighborhood
African American Studies
The collection is open for research. Series V, Audio-Visual, does not include an access copy for the audiotape reel. Researchers will need to consult with staff before requesting this item. Series VI contains restricted financial material and is closed until 2042.
When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Records, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC) was formed in 1949 to stem growing physical decay of neighborhoods and to promote better race relations in the community. Following World War II, the South-Side Chicago neighborhood was one of many American communities affected by the nation's housing shortage. The housing problem was aggravated in Hyde Park and Kenwood by illegal conversions of single-family residences into smaller units, and by a general decline in the maintenance of properties. The rapid immigration of African Americans from the southern United States to Chicago complicated matters, fueling tensions between neighbors and precipitating "panic pedaling" and "white flight" in previously white, middle-class neighborhoods.
On November 8, 1949 concerned white and African-American citizens met at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago to discuss these pressing issues. The meeting was presided over by Rev. Leslie T. Pennington, and included forty participants representing local faith-based organizations, various human relations commissions, business leaders, and University of Chicago faculty members and students. Confident that white and African-American people could live peacefully together, and convinced that urban decay was a mutual problem, attendees called for a new community organization whose goal was "to build and maintain a stable interracial community of high standards."
A steering committee was formed with Rev. Pennington as chairman, and on December 12, 1949 three-hundred citizens from fifty community organizations assembled to adopt a statement of policy for the fledgling organization. The name Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference was officially adopted on January 18, 1950, and an Executive Committee was formed in March 1950. The HPKCC was initially a volunteer-run organization. It soon became apparent, however, that paid staff and a central office were imperative for sustainable progress. As a result, the Conference's first director, Julia Abrahamson, was hired on a half-time basis in July 1950. In November 1950, the Conference moved into its first headquarters at 5506 S. Harper Avenue. By-Laws were adopted on August 7, 1950, and the first meeting of the Board of Directors took place on January 15, 1952.
The early structure of the Conference included a thirty-six member Board of Directors, with twelve members elected each year for three-year terms. The Board set policies and hired the Executive Director, who in turn hired and supervised staff. The Executive Committee, made up of the officers of the Conference, handled administrative decisions. Administrative committees fluctuated throughout the years to include: Finance, Membership, Nominating, Publicity and Public Relations, Advisory, and Personnel. Today, Conference leadership consists of a Board of Directors and five standing committees: Communications, Executive, Finance, Membership, and Nominating.
Program committees and goals have also changed throughout the HPKCC's history as the Conference works to meet the changing needs of the community. The Conference's first efforts concentrated on stabilizing, conserving, and renewing Hyde Park and Kenwood in the face of deteriorating neighborhoods and social unrest. The HPKCC focused on arresting rampant building and zoning violations, improving housing conditions through rehabilitation and tenant unions, and actively engaging with city-wide urban renewal planning through its Planning Committee. Through the formation of Block Groups, the Conference provided the means for neighbors to interact, discuss common interests and concerns, and cooperatively solve problems at a grass roots level. The Block Groups worked to find concrete solutions for physical problems in neighborhoods, while simultaneously fostering effective interracial communication and changing attitudes. Individual participation in Block Groups and other Conference activities was not contingent upon paid membership. Over the years, HPKCC programs grew to encompass other issues, including parks and recreation, youth and schools, safety, transportation, and environmental concerns such as air pollution.
Membership in the Conference reached its peak in 1956 with approximately four-thousand members and over sixty affiliated Block Groups. The HPKCC included many notable members of the Hyde Park community, including Laura Fermi, author, co-founder of the HPKCC Clean Air Committee, and wife of Nobel Prize recipient Enrico Fermi; Muriel Beadle, chair of the Committee for a Cleaner Community and wife of University of Chicago President, G. W. Beadle; and Jean Alinsky, wife of community organizer, Saul Alinsky.
Today, the HPKCC works for "an attractive, secure, diverse, and caring community," and promotes "participation of residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations in programs and activities that advance the interests and concerns of the community."
The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Records are organized into six series: Series I: Administration; Series II: Programs; Series III: Audio-Visual; Series IV: Digital Media; Series V: Oversize; and Series VI: Restricted. Series I and II are broken down into subseries based upon administrative body or program area. The collection contains correspondence, memoranda, meeting agendas and minutes, budgets and fundraising material, by-laws, directories, reports; press releases, surveys, newsletters, brochures, clippings, photographs, an audio reel, maps, posters, flyers, pamphlets, booklets, and other documents representing the activities of the Conference. Materials date between 1895 and 2011, with the bulk of the material dating from 1949 to 2000. The records primarily document the administrative functions of the Conference and its program activities related to urban renewal. Detailed series descriptions are found at the beginning of each series in the inventory section of the guide.
The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:
- NamesHyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
- Urban renewal
- Community organization
- Hyde Park (Chicago, Ill.)
- Kenwood (Chicago, Ill.)