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Brenetta Howell Barrett Papers

Identifier: harsh-2007-08

Scope and Contents

The Brenetta Howell Barrett Papers offers documentation of nearly 150 organizations from Chicago's West Side as well as another 125 local and national groups, some dating back to the 1950s. Significant records of her work include leadership in Chicago's civil rights movement as well as key roles in such organizations as the Chicago Black United Fund and the Pathfinders Prevention Education Fund, the Harold Washington mayoral campaigns and the Westside Association for Community Action.


  • Creation: 1942-2006


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection


61 Linear Feet : in 93 boxes, includes 383 photos

Language of Materials



A lifelong Chicagoan, Brenetta Howell Barrett was a leader and political activist in West Side community organizations. She served in the mayoral administrations of Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer. Active in housing, environmental and civil liberties issues, she was also involved in community protests in the 1960s and 1970s. Her papers include correspondence, office files, programs, clippings, photographs and memorabilia.


Papers are arranged into 15 series

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deed of gift from Brenetta Howell Barrett, June 25, 2007. Additional material received February 2013

Related Materials

Related materials at the Chicago Public Library include:

  • Abbott-Sengstacke Family Papers
  • Timuel D. Black, Jr. Papers
  • Chicago SNCC History Project Archives
  • Etta Moten Barnett Papers
  • William McBride Papers
  • Path Press Archives

Related materials at other institutions include:
  • Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Papers, Red Squad Collection, and Freedom Movement pamphlets, all housed at the Chicago History Museum

Guide to Brenetta Howell Barrett Papers
Jeanie Child, Harsh Archival Processing Project; supervised by Michael Flug, Senior Archivist, Harsh Archival Processing Project. Edited and ingested into ArchivesSpace May 2022, C. Fife Townsel
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 Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection Repository

Woodson Regional Library
Chicago Public Library
9525 S. Halsted Street
Chicago IL 60628 United States
(312) 745-2080