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A guide to the Research Center at the Chicago History Museum, including hours, access, policies, etc.
Last Updated: Feb 17, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

The Red Squad Collection Print Page


Researchers may not photograph any Red Squad materials. The Museum will make photocopies of materials, subject to our regular restrictions and charges.



Researchers are prohibited from disclosing information obtained from this collection about any person or organization without the express consent of that person or organization.

This Prohibition Includes

Publishing images of materials or information obtained from the materials in books or journals, posting images or information on the Internet or in other electronic formats,

Using images or information in school papers or projects, exhibiting images or information,

Verbally disclosing information from the files, etc.

Obtaining permission

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission from the files’ subjects. Research Center staff will provide instruction on what steps must be taken and offer assistance as it would with any other research project.


About the Red Squad Collection

The Chicago Police Department, Red Squad selected records, c. 1930s-86 (bulk 1963-74) collection concerns surveillance of suspected “subversive” groups by the Chicago Police Department (CPD), c. mid-1950s-74. The collection also includes CPD’s Gang Unit files from the same time period, which contain information about similar surveillance conducted on gangs (and groups labeled as such) and on individuals allegedly affiliated with these groups.

The collection records were involved in two federal lawsuits (Alliance to End Repression v. City of Chicago, No. 74 C 3268, and American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois v. City of Chicago, No. 75 C 3295). After these lawsuits were settled, Judge Susan Getzendanner of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, issued an order on September 22, 1987 that deposited these records at the Museum and imposed certain restrictions on access to and disclosure of the records.

Names and identification numbers of civilian informants and of Surveillance Unit officers were deleted from this collection before it was sent to the Museum by the Chicago Police Department.

Researchers should note that information contained in this collection is not necessarily accurate.

Accessing the Red Squad Collection

Researchers must visit the Research Center in person in order to consult the Red Squad files. The Museum is not permitted to tell a researcher specific titles or topics of folders in the collection or provide access to the collection’s finding aid until the researcher completes these three steps.

The Affidavit and Waiver are legally binding documents; it is important that researchers understand them before signing. Research Center staff will be happy to answer any questions about these documents and their contents. A notary public is available at the Research Center. A valid, government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, is required to have the affidavit notarized. Minors must be accompanied by a parent/guardian and the parent/guardian needs to provide their signature as well.


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