Timuel Black is known to wear many hats: historian, civil rights activist, author, scholar, and jazz-enthusiast. He can now add archivist to the list, after having donated more than 250 archival boxes - a goldmine of historical information - to the Chicago Public Library system. The boxes contain manuscripts, letters, audio recordings and other documents chronicling African-American history in Chicago.

The ACLU of Illinois is proud to know Black as a staunch civil liberties advocate, having served on the board of directors from 1977-1984. Black was also the named plaintiff in the lawsuit Black v. McGuffage, which claimed that the Illinois voting system discriminated against minorities. The case challenged the use of faulty punch card ballots which were employed at polling places in black and Hispanic neighborhoods throughout Chicago, and resulted in a failure to cast valid votes in the 2000 presidential election. The suit is responsible for the ban of punch card ballots and the implementation of a uniform voting system in Illinois.

The archives bring to light decades worth of information for civil rights and labor historians including handwritten correspondence between Black and Dr. Martin Luther King and labor leader A. Philip Randolph. The archive's extensive collection of funeral programs serve as an unprecedented genealogical resource for African-Americans in Chicago. Having been an avid jazz fan and longtime member of the Duke Ellington society, about a quarter of the archives relate to jazz history.

The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times both wrote about the archives, which are now housed with the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature at Woodson Regional Library on Chicago's South Side.