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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey

Guide to using the microfilm and digital versions of the Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey, a collection consisting of a file of 120,000 typewritten pages translated from newspapers of 22 different foreign language communities in Chicago.


The Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey (CFLPS) was published in 1942 by the Chicago Public Library Omnibus Project of the Work Projects Administration of Illinois.

Its purpose was to translate into English and classify selected news articles appearing in the Chicago area foreign language press from 1861 to 1938.

The project consists of a file of 120,000 typewritten pages translated from newspapers of 22 different foreign language communities in Chicago. UIUC Library has digitized this collection.

About this guide

This guide is meant to be an introduction to the Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey, which is rich in content but difficult to use.  It offers tips for browsing, searching, and for linking this resource with other research about Chicago.  Please let us know how we might improve this guide.

Getting started

Here are a few things to help you to get started:

The CFLPS consists of several separate documents in the Internet Archive.  You can see a list of these files by going to this URL:


What's inside?

The CFLPS is a unique way of getting access to ethnic newspapers in a number of languages from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries -- many of which are difficult or impossible to find anywhere else.

The CFLPS does not contain the full run of any particular newspaper -- but a selection of translated articles based on topics that were thought to be important in the 1930s.

Here is a sample of searches in CFLPS:

  • How did German-Americans react to the outbreak of World War I?
  • What festivals were important for Greeks in Chicago?
  • What kind of associations did Chinese immigrants rely on to combat discrimination?


Strengths and weaknesses of CFLPS

Just as in any set of primary sources, users need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of this selection. 

It is best at  telling us about the particular concerns of ethnic communities, what information was important to the U.S. Government, and the priorities of the Chicago school of sociology.  There is an emphasis on communities from Eastern and Southern Europe,  with less information about those from other parts of the world.

Researchers should also understand that the translations in CFLPS were done years or even decades after the publication of the original articles.  Translations, often done by people within the neighborhoods and groups that were described, may have been biased to reflect well on those communities.