Hidden Bibliographic Details
|Varying Form of Title:||Co-op, Hyde Park, records|
|Notes:||Series X contains legal documents and tax records that are restricted. Donor permission is required for access to these materials. Series VII does not include access copies for material in this series. Researchers will need to consult with staff before requesting material from this series. The remainder of the collection is open for research.|
The Hyde Park Cooperative Society began life as the Consumer Cooperative Society, founded by Bradford Shank with a group of friends and family in 1932, and incorporated the following year. Initially intended to mitigate the effects of the Depression by pooling resources, Co-op membership expanded rapidly enough in its first year to open a store on Harper Avenue. The Co-op wrote its constitution based on Rochdale principles. Originally set out in 1844 by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in England, these ideals include open and voluntary membership, democratic member control, and equitable economic participation. The structure of the Co-op remained basically the same throughout its 75 years in Hyde Park, with membership electing a Board of Directors who were in turn responsible for hiring and overseeing a General Manager. Active members formed committees to address social concerns or to facilitate business expansion and finance; the by-laws governing the Co-op could only be modified by a membership vote. Throughout the 1930s, the Co-op benefited from the involvement of prominent Chicago figures like University of Chicago economist Paul Douglas and attorney Leon Despres. The store became profitable because of its food standards and low prices, particularly in products like meat, which were not then subject to government regulation. The Co-op began publishing its weekly periodical, Evergreen, in 1935. Its growing membership inspired other Chicago and area cooperatives, including the Cooperative Fuel Association and Circle Pines Cooperative Farm and Camp. By 1942 the Co-op had moved into a new location on 56th St. and reincorporated as the Hyde Park Cooperative Society. Despite wartime shortages in merchandise, the Co-op remained active in Hyde Park and the international cooperative community, sponsoring local social events and international aid groups. In 1945 it made its first forays into cooperative living, offering financial support for a Cooperative Nursery School and a student housing cooperative. The next ten years were similarly marked by a dramatic increase in membership and member involvement. The Co-op moved its store twice during the 1950s to accommodate growing business, first in 1954 and again five years later. When a new store opened in 1959 it was one of the largest in the Chicago area. It was committed to fair hiring practices and aspired to be a desegregated, democratic community institution. In the two decades that followed the membership turned its attention to environmental issues and sustainable living. A difficult and expensive remodeling project at the flagship store was completed in time to celebrate the Co-op's fiftieth birthday in 1982. By 2007 the Co-op was heavily in debt. It was criticized for poor food selection, unreliable service, and uncompetitive prices; other neighbourhood critics suggested the cooperative model was outdated. The Co-op closed in January 2008, marked by a New Orleans-style "jazz funeral."
|Summary:||Consists of administrative records, correspondence, pamphlet literature, books, photographs, audiovisual and digital material, and artifacts, with the bulk of material devoted to the period between 1934 and 2008.|
|Cite as:||When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Hyde Park Historical Society. Hyde Park Co-op. Records, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.|
|Cumulative Index / Finding Aids Note:||Finding aid available in the Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library, 1100 E. 57th St., Chicago, IL 60637.|