In October 2002, The Society of Typographic Arts (STA) celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary with three exhibitions: “Fifty Years of Graphic Design in Chicago 1927–1977”, “Fifty Years of Chicago Graphic Design (1941–1991)”, and “Seventy-five Years of Graphic Design in Chicago” curated for the National AIGA conference in Chicago. The nearly one thousand images that form the nucleus of the Chicago Design Archive (CDA) preserve that historical survey of graphic design examples curated for those exhibitions.
Through 2015, the STA updated the CDA collection with new material from Chicago designers through the STA's annual Archive competition, (see Competitions) and occasional selections juried by the CDA directors.
On the 11th anniversary of the founding of the Chicago Design Archive, October 20, 2015, the CDA became an independent 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to educating the public about the importance of Chicago's design history. Gifts to the CDA in support of its efforts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.