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Leland B. Elder, Jr. Papers

Identifier: harsh-2016-02

Content Description

The collection documents Elder’s career working in the Marketing, Communication departments and the Office of Public Information with the Chicago Public Library.

The bulk of the collection contains press releases which Leland Elder either wrote himself or edited for his department colleagues. The collection consist of a large amount of promotional and research material pertaining to cultural, business and educational events and programs hosted by the various CPL branches.

The collection highlights the day-to-day work of the various departments Elder worked in while with CPL. Marketing material, newsletters and branch information rounds out the collection as these were some of the duties Elder was responsible for as a CPL employee.


  • 1945 - 2016


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Leland B. Elder Jr. was born in Chicago, IL on September 26, 1955. He spent majority of his childhood in the Morgan Park and Washington Heights neighborhood attending Fernwood Elementary. He later attended John Marshall Harlan High School, graduating in 1973. After, he headed to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend Shaw University from 1973-1974. He moved back to Illinois in 1974.

Elder Jr. enlisted in the United States Air Force serving four years from 1977 to 1981. Upon his return from the Air Force, Elder Jr. enrolled at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), earning a BA in Mass Communication in 1983. Shortly after finishing at UIC, Elder obtained an internship with the Chicago Public Library (CPL) and was later offered a position in the Office of Public Information around 1984. At the beginning of his professional career, his most important assignments were researching and writing press releases describing and promoting a variety of diverse CPL programs and services.

Early along in Elder’s career, he was responsible for developing working contacts with print, television and radio news reporters, directors, and producers to further CPL ties with local and national level media coverage outlets. More duties emerged as Elder ascended through the CPL ranks. He began contributing to the CPL monthly staff newsletter while working in the Communications Office. He edited and wrote for newsletters such as CPL Newsletter, CPL Matters and CPL Insight. The latter of the newsletters publicized the selection process for library material and spotlighting the overall construction of the new Harold Washington Library Center located in central downtown Chicago, which was dedicated on October 4, 1991 and opened on October 7, 1991.

Along with announcing and promoting the Harold Washington Library Center, he accompanied the library’s staff photographers on assignments with the specific charge of setting up photo opportunities and writing phot captions for media press releases. Continuing to highlight CPL’s mission and core values, Elder became a vital member of the library’s initial Celebrating Diversity committee, which was the African American History Month Committee.

As a senior member of CPL’s Marketing Department, Elder’s numerous responsibilities expanded further to critical tasks such as developing partnerships and comprehensive media lists with many Chicagoland print and electronic media representatives. Moreover, he visited and wrote elaborate and program-specific press releases promoting CPL programs, services, authors, and other events. As a senior staff member, Elder gained managerial responsibilities. He was tasked with administering and responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests as well as purchasing and distributing CPL street banners for installation at branch libraries and coordinating an initial purchase of a new state of the art sound system at the Woodson Regional Library’s Auditorium.

Elder helped create and implement the city-wide Book Club advertising campaign One Book, One Chicago which launched in fall 2001 through his work in the Marketing Department. One Book, One Chicago is an opportunity to engage and enlighten CPL’s residents and to foster a sense of community through reading. In 2013, One Book, One Chicago launched an expansion to the program. The expansion moved OBOC from one selection to two selections per year.

Elder retired in July of 2016.


9 Linear Feet (In 19 boxes, all manuscript)

Language of Materials



Leland B. Elder Jr. worked as part of the Chicago Public Library’s Public Information Office (PIO) for over thirty years (1984-2016). His responsibilities included editing and writing for the various incarnations of the library’s newsletters, marketing, press releases and promoting library programs and services. His papers detail the growth and development of the PIO and the Marketing Department of the Chicago Public Library showing the evolution of the ethnic heritage committees and the annual library programs.


Papers are divided into six series: Series 1: Administrative Records, 1987-2016, undated; Series 2: Marketing, 1990s-2016; Series 3: Branches, 1945-2015, undated; Series 4: Newsletters, 1977-2010; Series 5: Press Releases, 2001-2016; Series 6: Programs, 2001-2016.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Leland B. Elder Jr in 2016.

Related Materials

Related materials at the Chicago Public Library include:

  • Chicago Public Library Archives. Author Events
  • Chicago Public Library Archives. George Cleveland Hall Branch Library Archives.
  • Chicago Public Library Archives. Programs.
  • Timuel D. Black Jr. Papers

Guide to the Leland B. Elder, Jr. Papers
In Progress
Erik Henderson, Archival Specialist and Beverly Cook, Librarian III, November 2022
November 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 Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection Repository

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