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Harold Washington Archives and Collections. Mayoral Records. Press Office Records

Identifier: spe-h00057

Scope and Contents

The records in this series were created by the Press Secretary, the Deputy Press Secretary and their administration and reflect the daily activities of the Press Office. The records served as administrative as well as informational files and consist of correspondence, reports, press clippings, press releases (including some in Spanish), schedules and briefing notes, speeches, proclamations and executive orders.

Of particular note are the collection of Harold Washington’s speeches as well as a collection of press clippings gathered after Mayor Washington’s sudden death.

Selected items from the collection are available online in the Harold Washington: Selected Speeches Digital Collection. Video recordings of the daily news broadcasts from the main TV channels in Chicago can be found in the Press Office Videocassette Series. Photographs taken by the Press Office staff can be found in the Press Office Photographs Series.


  • Creation: 1979 - 1991
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1983 - 1987


Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English. Some materials in Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection

Historical Note

The Press Office was part of the Office of the Mayor and as such Press Office staff worked very closely with the Mayor at all times. The Press Office was responsible for the mayor’s scheduling and for ensuring he was prepared for each event by producing briefing notes with detailed background information. Press Office photographers accompanied the mayor to most of these events and documented them with black and white photographs. The Press Office also prepared press releases, drafted speeches and clipped news articles on many topics. In addition the Press Office video-recorded the daily television news broadcasts from the major Chicago broadcast stations. The video recordings are available in the Mayoral Records, Press Office Videocassette Series and the photographs are available in the Mayoral Records, Press Office Photographs Series.

Grayson Mitchell served as Harold Washington’s first Press Secretary from 1983 until his resignation in January 1985. Mitchell also served as Press Secretary under the previous mayor, Jane Byrne, and there is a small amount of material from her administration included here. Mitchell’s replacement was Alton Miller who served from February 10, 1985 until the Mayor’s death in 1987. Alton Miller was with Mayor Washington in the mayor’s office when Washington suffered a fatal heart attack. Pat Michalski served as Deputy Press Secretary, and later as Press Secretary under Acting Mayor Eugene Sawyer.


74.5 Linear Feet (in 100 boxes)


The Press Office was responsible for the mayor’s scheduling and for ensuring he was prepared for each event by producing briefing notes with detailed background information about the organization or venue involved. They also drafted press releases and speeches for the mayor and gathered news clippings on all topics. Of particular note are a collection of news clippings gathered after Mayor Washington’s sudden death.


Where possible, the original organization has been maintained. To assist researchers, the records have been split into six series:

  • Series 1: Papers of the Press Secretary/Deputy Press Secretary, 1979-1987
  • Series 2: Press Clippings, 1984-1991
  • Series 3: Press Releases, 1983-1987
  • Series 4: Executive Orders, Proclamations, Requests, 1983-1987
  • Series 5: Schedules and Briefing Notes, 1983-1988
  • Series 6: Speeches, 1983-1987

Physical Location

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least 24-hours prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records were acquired by Chicago Public Library after Harold Washington’s death.

Related Materials

  • Harold Washington, Illinois State Representative Records
  • Harold Washington, Illinois State Senate Records
  • Harold Washington, U.S. Congressional Records
  • Harold Washington, Mayoral Campaign Records
  • Harold Washington, Pre-Mayoral Photograph Collection
  • Harold Washington, Asian American Advisory Committee Records
  • Harold Washington, Central Files Records
  • Harold Washington, Chief of Staff Records
  • Harold Washington, City Council Proceedings Records
  • Harold Washington, Community Services Sub-Cabinet Records
  • Harold Washington, Development Sub-Cabinet Records
  • Harold Washington, Finance and Administration Sub-Cabinet Records
  • Harold Washington, Infrastructure Sub-Cabinet Records
  • Harold Washington, Intergovernmental Affairs Records
  • Harold Washington, Office Manager/Supervisor of Clerical Staff Records
  • Harold Washington, Public Safety/Regulatory Sub-Cabinet Records
  • Harold Washington, Real Estate Committee Records
  • Harold Washington, Schedules and Evaluations Records
  • Harold Washington, Press Office, Videocassettes
  • Harold Washington, Commemorative Year Archives
  • Harold Washington, Political Education Project Records
  • Harold Washington, Press Office, Mayoral Photographs

Guide to the Harold Washington Archives and Collections. Mayoral Records. Press Office Records
Special Collections staff, circa 1995. Additional processing by Morag Walsh, 2020. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Sarah Zimmerman 2022.
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