University Archives and Special Collections' mission is to engage local and global communities in exploring the impact of Illinois Institute of Technology and the experience of all those who are a part of the university’s legacy.
University Archives and Special Collections is central to Illinois Tech’s institutional identity and memory. We continuously collect and preserve archival, rare, and unique materials in analog and digital formats in order to document the past and the present. We evolve and respond to ensure that we provide access, preserve materials, and enable use in a way that is meaningful and relevant to present and future scholarship. Through our efforts to preserve, curate, and present physical and digital programs and exhibitions, we endeavor to raise awareness and enrich the use of our holdings. By engaging in partnerships and collaborative activities we reach new audiences, forge new scholarly connections, and leverage our resources with institutions around Chicago and the world.
Our archival holdings include the records of Illinois Tech and its predecessor institutions, Armour Institute of Technology and Lewis Institute, as well as many important records of the Institute of Design, representing the eras both before and after its merger with IIT in 1949. We also collect personal papers from faculty, staff, and alumni that illustrate their direct connections with the university and the impact of their IIT training and experience on their professional work. Our collections include paper records, audio-visual documentation, and electronic records and files created by university faculty, staff, and offices. University Archives and Special Collections has two special topical collecting scopes beyond the IIT narrative: the history of Chicago’s near South Side, and the history of modernism in U.S. architecture and design that reflects the influence of Germany’s Bauhaus movement.
Our Special Collections resources include a book collection comprised of titles authored by faculty, staff, and alumni or titles collected by the same in pursuit of original research, as well as a collection of three-dimensional artifacts that support our mission and scope.
Visit our Collections page to learn more about our distinctive holdings.
About University Archives and Special Collections
The University Archives and Special Collections unit was formally established in 1998 as IIT Archives. The Office of Marketing & Communications, which had shouldered most of the responsibility for researching and publicizing the 1990 IIT centennial, gifted the new archives with many of its photographs and other materials of historic interest. Likewise, the offices of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs also contributed historic file materials.
The first IIT University Archivist secured control of virtually all surviving records of Armour and Lewis institutes, including student and grade files from those eras. Early presidential files, records of the Board of Trustees, and negatives/prints from IIT’s long-serving university photographer Dan Ryan (1960s-1990s) were also transferred to the archives. In following years, the archives received most of the historic file materials of the Institute of Design, along with records of the Midwest College of Engineering, as well as personal papers from former faculty, staff, and students. In 2015, the unit was renamed University Archives and Special Collections, and its collecting scope was expanded. The unit initiated an oral history program in 2016, and continues to explore new ways to make connections between our collections and new users on campus, in the city of Chicago, and around the world.