Descriptive inventory for the Special Olympics Chicago records, 1965-2017, bulk ca. 1970s - 1990s

Special Olympics Chicago records

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Descriptive inventory for the Special Olympics Chicago records, 1965-2017, bulk ca. 1970s - 1990s

Prepared by Erin K. Glasco and Ashley Clark, 2018; ed. by Julie Wroblewski, 2018
Please address questions to:
Chicago History Museum, Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Instructions for accessing this collection

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Special Olympics Chicago records, 1965-2017 (inclusive), circa 1970s-1990s (bulk)
Creators: Special Olympics, Inc.
Judge Anne Burke
Chicago Park District (Chicago, Ill.)
Dates: 1965-2017 (inclusive), 1970s-1990s (bulk)
Accession number: 2017.0041
Bib number: 00236097
Call numbers: MSS Lot S
MSS Oversize S
PPL 2017.0041
PCP 272
PCT 258
PCLF 2017.0041
Size:15.5 linear feet (13 boxes)
3 oversized folders
8 reels
2 CD-ROMs (1 box)
1670 black and white photographs (6 boxes)
2545 color photographs (4 boxes)
1534 color slides (2 boxes)
black and white and color negatives (1 folder)
Language of material:Collection is written in English.

Provenance statement:

Materials were a gift of the Chicago Park District, Special Olympics Chicago, and Judge Anne Burke (accession #: 2017.0041).

Terms governing use:

The donor deeded all rights owned by the donor to this material, including copyright, to Chicago Historical Society. Other copyrights may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.


The collection is open for research.

Advance appointment is required to view color material in cold storage. Please email

For listening or viewing purposes for film and optical media, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a listening or viewing copy made if one is not available) Please email for more information.

Please cite this collection as:

Special Olympics Chicago records (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Additional Materials +/-

Related material:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include Chicago Special Olympics visual materials (# 2002.0037), the Judge Anne Burke papers about the Special Olympics (accession # 2002.0028), and ribbons, medals, and other artifacts in the museum collections (accession # 2017.41).

Collection Summary +/-

The Special Olympics Chicago records contain manuscript material as well as black-and-white and color photographic prints, negatives, slides, film reels, optical media and ephemera. The manuscript material includes teams rosters, game results, programs, handbooks, posters, newsletters, press releases and black and white photographs that pertain to various local, regional, national and international Special Olympic events. The records also contain meeting minutes and agendas, correspondence, financial and budgetary reports, financial records, contracts, publications, clippings, and flyers created by Special Olympics Chicago, Illinois Special Olympics and the Special Children’s Charities, the organization responsible for fundraising in support of Special Olympics Chicago.

Biographical/Historical Note +/-

Anne McGlone Burke co-founded the Special Olympics in 1968 at age 23, with the support of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. Burke was, at the time, working as a physical education teacher through the Chicago Park District. Burke conceived of holding classes and sports competitions for her students after attending a seminar lead by Dr. William Freeberg, a physical education professor at Southern Illinois University, a researcher who argued that providing physical fitness opportunities for children with disabilities could lead to improvements in the quality of their lives and to other opportunities. For three years prior to the inaugural 1968 Games, Burke organized sports events for disabled children in the Chicago area. The first classes were held at West Pullman Park, 401 123rd Street in Chicago. The inaugural Special Olympics took place on July 20, 1968 at Chicago’s Soldier Field with 1,000 athletes from 26 states and parts of Canada.

After the initial Games, the Kennedy Foundation formally trademarked and incorporated the “Special Olympics,” and became involved in running Special Olympics International. After the national incarnation of the Special Olympics shifted to the Kennedy Foundation, Burke remained active behind the scenes with what would become Special Olympics Chicago. Special Olympics Chicago operates with the support of the Chicago Park District and Special Children’s Charities and provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Catalog Subject Headings +/-

Children with disabilities
Special Olympics
Sports for people with disabilities
Burke, Anne McGlone
Daley, Richard J., 1902-1976
Daley, Richard M. (Richard Michael), 1942-
Shriver, Eunice Kennedy
Chicago Park District (Chicago, Ill.)
Soldier Field (Chicago, Ill.)
Special Olympics, Inc.
Bylaws (administrative records)
Financial records
Group portraits
Photographic prints
Press releases
Chicago (Illinois)--Social life and customs

Organization and Arrangement of Collection +/-

The collection is arranged in three series and five subseries.

Click on heading to view series description.

Series 1. Inaugural Special Olympic Games, 1965-1968 (box 1; oversize folder 1)
Series 2. Special Olympics Meets and Events, 1968-2017 (box 1-4, 14-26; oversize folder 2; PCLF folder 1; reels 1-2, 8)
Subseries 1: Meets and Events, 1970-2017 (box 1-4, 26; reel 1-2, 8)
Subseries 2: Meets and Events Visual Materials, 1968-2005 (box 14-25; oversize folder 2; PCLF folder 1; reels 1-2, 8)
Series 3. Administrative Materials, 1969-2014, (boxes 5-13, 20 and reels 3-7)
Subseries 1. General Administrative Materials, 1969-2014 (box 5-13, 20; oversize folder 3; reel 3-7)
Subseries 2. Illinois Special Olympics, 1981-1991 (box 10-11; oversize folder 3)
Subseries 3. Special Children's Charities, 1972-2007 (box 12-13, 20)

About This Finding Aid +/-

Creation: Finding aid jointly encoded by Erin K. Glasco and Ashley Clark using Oxygen XML Editor, 2018; ed. by Julie Wroblewski, 2018
Language: Finding aid is written in English.
Processing Note:The Special Olympics Chicago collection was jointly processed by interns Erin Glasco (manuscript material) and Ashley Clark (photographic material) in 2018.
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