Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association Records
The Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association Records contain general historical files, such as annual reports, letters, and membership lists; a small amount of material from related organizations; financial records; meeting minutes and related material; zoning and building compliance complaints and related correspondence; and oversize maps. They also contain photographs, most of which date from the 1960s and 1980s and depict RMIA events such as their annual picnic and annual clean-up campaign. There are also a small number of historic images and photographs of backyards in the neighborhood as well as images of Mayor Harold Washington at the RMIA's 70th anniversary celebration in 1984.
- Creation: 1914-1987, undated
- Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
For many years, Native Americans lived in the area along the North branch of the Chicago River that we know as Ravenswood Manor. After the Civil War, farmers began settling in the small communities surrounding the Manor, yet no one incorporated the land just west of the river until after 1900. From 1908-1912 real estate developer William Elmer Harmon purchased 80 acres from the Northwest Land Association. He laid out streets, installed sidewalks, curbs, gutters, gas mains, sewers, and water lines. He planted elm and maple trees and "walled in" the subdivision of Ravenswood Manor and Ravenswood Gardens by placing trellises over sidewalks at major entrances to the community. Harmon set strict property restrictions to ensure the subdivision would develop into and remain predominantly a community of single-family residences.
The boundaries of Ravenswood Manor are Lawrence Avenue on the north, Montrose Avenue on the south, Sacramento Avenue on the west and the north branch of the Chicago River on the east. The Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association has been a major factor in maintaining Harmon's property restrictions. Following a call to organize on August 27, 1914, Manor residents met in Harmon's real estate office on September 1, 1914 and formed the Ravenswood Manor-Gardens Community Club. In December 1916 the group's name was changed to the Ravenswood Manor-Gardens Improvement Association. In April 1947 its name changed once again to Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association after Ravenswood Gardens established its own homeowners' association. The group remains active as of 2023.
4 Linear Feet (in 7 manuscript boxes and 84 photographs, plus 10 oversize folders)
Language of Materials
The Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association was founded in 1914 and remains active as of 2023. It is comprised of residents of Ravenswood Manor, a neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side. The collection documents the activities of the homeowners' activities and operations from 1914-1987, and includes: administrative records, financial records, minutes and supporting documents, letters, reports, maps, and photographs.
The material in this collection was in no discernable order when it arrived. It was organized generally by format or type of material and then chronologically within each category. The collection is organized into 3 series: Series 1: Documents, 1914-1987; Series 2: Maps, 1909-1966, undated; Series 3: Photographs, circa 1888-1984.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by the Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association in 1987, primarily through the efforts of John Friedman, who was president of the Association at the time.
Existence and Location of Copies
Select photographs from this collection are available in the Library's Northside Clubs and Organizations Digital Collection.
The material in this collection was in no discernable order when it arrived. It was organized generally by format or type of material and then chronologically within each category. Oversize maps and blueprints were removed from the manuscript material and stored in oversize flat files. Photographs were also removed and stored separately.
- Guide to the Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association Records
- Processed by Becky Haglund, 1988. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Julie Lynch, 2022.
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Part of the Northside Neighborhood History Collection Repository
Sulzer Regional Library
Chicago Public Library
4455 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago IL 60625 United States