Anybody who knows better can tell me differently, but as far as I know there is only a single microfilm edition of the Chicago Defender. The original copy came (I believe) from the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, while this is a decent run of the paper, it is far from complete or pristine. Some entire issues are missing, or are represented by only a couple of pages (such as July 14 and July 21, 1917). Since the Defender was in those days a weekly paper, such gaps in the record can have a huge impact.
Then there are problems like this: a full, play-by-play account of an American Giants-Cuban Stars game (played on June 10, 1917, one of the few games Dick Redding lost all season) that was mangled in the University of Chicago’s original copy of the paper. We’re left with only the first four and a half innings. You can just make out that Frank Warfield threw out Bill Francis to start the bottom of the fifth; but what happened to Leroy Grant or Bruce Petway, who batted after him?
Now, if another library—just one other library—has a run of the actual, printed-on-paper Chicago Defender, we would stand a very good chance of being able to fill in the gaps left by the standard microfilm edition—just as I did with a couple of Cuban Stars games in 1921. But did anybody else save the paper? It’s true that probably not that many libraries would have subscribed to and saved African-American newspapers in the first half of the twentieth century; but really, no place else, not even in New York City or Philadelphia, or even somewhere else in Chicago? And what about the Chicago Defender itself? What little I know about it suggests that black weeklies, due to cost and space constraints, simply haven’t been able to keep complete archives, especially from decades ago.
If anybody knows of a library or collection or archive that houses an honest-to-goodness dead-tree run of the Defender (not just a few scattered issues, but a stretch of years) from the first three or four decades of the twentieth century, let me know.