About the Press Survey
The Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey is a collection of translations of newspaper articles originally published in Chicago's ethnic press between the 1860s and the 1930s. The Chicago Public Library administered the project that created this collection in the 1930s with funding from the U.S. Federal Works Progress Administration. The Press Survey was one of many initiatives during the Great Depression that employed Americans to document and enrich national culture. Translators and editors organized nearly 50,000 articles from 22 ethnic groups according to a hierarchical subject scheme created for the project. In total, the Survey produced approximately 120,000 sheets of typescript. The paper sheets are now cared for in the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago, and several institutions hold copies of the microfilm. The Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign digitized its microfilm copy and contributed the files to the Internet Archive. In 2009 the Newberry Library received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a new digital transcription of the Survey.
The 1930s project intended to offer English-speaking researchers and students access to primary materials on ethnicity and urban life in one of America's great polyglot cities during a formative span of its history. In subsequent decades the Survey has been invaluable to scholars and students of Chicago history, and it has been used effectively in high school and college classrooms. This digital collection is intended to provide broader and better organized access than has been possible with paper and microfilm. The Survey translations have considerable value for teaching and research in immigration studies, urban history, the history of popular culture, and many other fields. They can reward browsing for curiosity as well as targeted research.