Skip to main content

Office of Civilian Defense Records

Identifier: spe-nhrc-ocd

Scope and Contents

The Office of Civilian Defense Records document the work of the District 4 Office on Chicago’s west side. The District 4 Office was bounded by Clinton Street on the east, the south branch of the Chicago River and the drainage canal on the south, the city limits on the west, and a crooked line formed by Kinzie, Kedzie and North Avenues on the north. Its headquarters were in the Gold Dome Building of Garfield Park. The collection documents The District 4 Office organized and trained volunteers and led home front initiatives to collect salvage items and funds for War Loans. The government program included its own organizational strategy for preserving a record of its activities, “Suggested classification scheme for files on Civilian Defense” (Box 3, Folder 5).


  • 1942 - 1945

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

The Office of Civilian Defense was established in Washington, DC in 1941 to organize the civilian population of the United States into support of the World War II war effort. The goal of local offices was, according to a government flyer, “to enroll volunteers and to place them in jobs or training in line with their capacities” and to “provide a central place in which all accredited training courses for volunteers may be listed and to arranged for such additional courses as may be necessary.” By January 1942, Chicago had been divided into Civilian Defense Districts and districts into blocks. Block captains headed each block. Their duties were to enroll volunteers for service as air wardens, auxiliary firemen and police, drivers, nurses, messengers and other roles.


1.5 Linear Feet (in 4 boxes including 24 photographs, plus 8 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



The Office of Civilian Defense Records documents the civilian support efforts of the District 4 office, headquartered in the Gold Dome Building of Garfield Park, during World War II. The collection includes administrative and organizational materials, news reports and publicity items for civilian training, volunteer efforts and War Loan drives.


The Office of Civilian Defense Records is arranged into two Series: Series 1: Documents, 1942-1945 and Series 2: Photographs, circa 1942-1945.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Chicago Public Library, Legler Branch in the 1980s as part of a Dr. Scholl Foundation grant.

Related Materials

Henry D. Green Photograph Collection

James H. Roche Papers

World War II Collection

Guide to the Office of Civilian Defense Records
Galen R. Wilson, April 1993. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875