Archives of famed black newspaper going to Chicago public library

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CHICAGO — On a sweltering day two summers ago, a University of Chicago scholar, Jacqueline Goldsby, began to dig through a maze of cardboard boxes crammed to the ceiling in a loft on Ogden Avenue. As she peeked inside the boxes, bulging with hidden remnants from The Chicago Defender, the famed black newspaper, she gasped.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ There were photos of Booker T. Washington playing with his grandchildren, there were letters from Harry Truman,” said Dr. Goldsby, 47. “Every time I opened a box, I found something of historical significance.”

The artifacts were the last vestiges of The Defender still in the hands of Robert Sengstacke, heir to the newspaper’s founding family. Mr. Sengstacke estimated that the collection could fetch “a few million bucks,” although it has not been formally appraised.

But after some spirited discussions with Dr. Goldsby, Mr. Sengstacke said, he decided some things were worth more than money. City officials are to announce Wednesday that the collection will be donated to the Chicago Public Library and housed in a South Side branch.

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