Artist, archivist, art collector, and political historian, William McBride's contribution to the city of Chicago was endless.
As a young artist for the Works Projects Administration, Mr. McBride helped lay the groundwork for the South Side Community Art Center, the only remaining art institution sparked by the WPA.
His art collection once included more than 1,000 paintings from African-American and WPA artists, including Charles White, William Carter, Charles Sebree and Richard Hunt. Some of his collection ended up in major museums and in the collections of Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby.
Mr. McBride was born in Algiers, La., the second of three children of vaudeville performers William and Mary McBride. The family moved to Bronzeville when Mr. McBride was about 10 years old. He graduated from St. Elizabeth grammar school and Phillips High School. During the 1930s, Mr. McBride took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he and others, including Margaret Burroughs, became involved in the movement to establish the South Side Community Art Center. Mr. McBride chronicled the history of the South Side, according to Michael Flug, archivist for the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature at the Woodson Regional Library.
Mr. McBride's collection, which he donated to the Harsh Collection in 1995, included posters, programs and other papers documenting the political and cultural history of the South Side.
"Right now at the Harold Washington Library, you can see a poster of Josephine Baker's last appearance in Chicago at the Regal Theater in 1960," Flug said. "Not only did he save the poster, but he got Josephine Baker to sign it." "He was a collector's collector, said Susan Woodson, who runs her own gallery. "Anybody who collected things, he could outdo them any day, any time."
Compiled and submitted by Donnell Walker