Chicago Metro History Sources

Basic Sources for Chicago History

Andreas, A. T. History of Chicago: from the earliest period to the present time. 1884-1886.
Detailed chronological history, 1670-1885, includes commercial, cultural, military, political and religious information. Illustrations and reprinted primary sources.
Andreas, A. T. History of Cook County, Illinois: from the earliest period to the present time. 1884.
Grossman, James, et. al. The encyclopedia of Chicago. c2004.
The definitive historical reference on metropolitan Chicago, covering Chicago's neighborhoods, suburbs, and ethnic groups; as well as the city's cultural institutions, technology, and science, architecture, religions, immigration, transportation, business history, labor, music, health and medicine, and passionate sports culture. Includes a biographical dictionary of more than 2,000 individuals important to Chicago history and a listing of approximately 250 of the city's historically significant business enterprises.
Schultz, Rima Lunin, et. al. Women building Chicago 1790-1990: a biographical dictionary. c2001.
Biographies of more than 400 women who made their mark on the city, emphasizing little known leaders.
Cromie, Robert. A short history of Chicago. 1984.
Overview includes events from recent history such as 1968 Democratic convention and the election of Harold Washington as mayor. Photographs and index.
Drury, John. Old Chicago Houses. 1941.
Ethnic Chicago / edited by Holli and Jones. 1984.
In-depth history of Chicago as a "melting pot" with growth of Black Chicago and struggle for integrated housing. Photographs, maps, statistics, index.
Gilbert, Paul T. Chicago and its makers: a narrative of events from the day of the first white to the inception of the second world's fair. 1929.
Local community fact book: Chicago metropolitan area, 1990. 1990. (also 1949, 1960, 1970, and 1980)
Selected statistics from the U.S. Census and other reports compiled for Chicago communities and suburbs; short histories of each area with boundary streets.
Mayer, Harold M. Chicago: growth of a metropolis. 1969.
Numerous photographs of buildings and streescapes document the growth of Chicago and nearby suburbs; includes Evanston. Index.
Miller, Donald L. City of the century: the epic of Chicago and the making of America. c1996.
Pacyga, Dominic A. Chicago, city of neighborhoods. c1986.
Settlement and growth of Chicago neighborhoods, including ethnic communities. Photographs, maps, index.
Pierce, Bessie Louise. A history of Chicago. 2nd vol. 1937.
Chicago history from 1637-1893. Index.
Sawyers, June Skinner. Chicago portraits: biographies of 250 famous Chicagoans.
Short biographies of famous Chicagoans from all walks of life; birth and death dates, photographs and sources for further reading.
Wood, David Ward. Chicago and its distinguished citizens; or, The progress of forty years. 1881.

Basic Sources for Evanston History

Buchbinder-Green, Barbara J. Evanston: a Pictorial History. 1979.
Perfect staring point for a readable, illustrated overview of Evanston's past.
Perkins, Margery Blair. Evanstoniana: an Informal History of Evanston and its Architecture.
Reeling, Viola Crouch. Evanston: Its Land and Its People.
Foster, Clyde D. Evanston's Yesterdays. 1979.
Robinson, Morris (Dino) E. A place we can call our home: the emerging Black community, circa 1850-1930.
Conversations with Blacks in Evanston, Illinois: an evaluation of African-American progress in this suburb of Chicago / [interviewed by] Williams, George W. 1979.
Hinky dinks, sundaes, and blind pigs: an oral history of Evanston / [Sally Greenwood, Susan Jennett].
Andreas, A.T. History of Cook County Illinois.

Newspapers and Periodicals

Chicago History Magazine. 1979.
Articles, many with pictures and bibliographies, on places and events in Chicago history. Online index from 1988 to 1996 on website. Index through 1995 is at EPL Reference Desk.
Chicago Tribune. 1979.
Chicago Tribune on microfilm, beginning in 1972, available in Magazines/Newspapers Department, 3rd floor. Indexed from 1972 to present.
Newsbank Chicago Area Newspapers Database. 1985 - Present.
Full-text of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, and 11 other Illinois newspapers, 1985-present. Also contains the Chicago Tribune Historical Archive, selected images and full text of historical articles from the Chicago Tribune clippings file, 1870 to present. Acces on Reference Department work stations, 3rd floor. Must be accessed from the EPL web page; you need an EPL library card to use from home.
General Periodical Databases
Search Infotrac General Reference Center Gold and Periodical Abstracts of WilsonSelect Databases for articles relating to Chicago history subjects. Years covered varies by periodical title, but none earlier than 1980. Articles may be full text or citation only. Access on Reference Department work stations. You need an EPL library card to use from home.


Heritage Quest
Searchable database of family histories, genealogical serials, local histories, the U.S. Federal Census, 1790-1930, and primary sources in full images. You need an EPL library card to use from home.
America’s Obituaries and Death Notices
Full text obituaries and death notices from newspapers in every state. SEarch by name, date range, or text such as residence, occupation, hobbies, family members, or other personal information. You need an EPL library card to use from home.
Chicago Imagebase-Maps
Supported by several departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago in order to promote learning about Chicago buildings and neighborhoods. Maps show Chicago population by decades from 1850-1990.
Metro Chicago Information Center
Data and information on user-defined area within the 6-county metropolitan Chicago region using data from the U.S. Census.
Sanborn Map Company Insurance Maps
Dating from 1867 to 1970, the Digital Sanborn Maps project encompasses most towns and cities in Illinois. The maps contain information such as the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. These maps are available online at the Northwestern University Library.

Sources at Other Libraries

Chicago Public Library
Learn Chicago, located on the Chicago Public Library's homepage, provides a gateway to a timeline of Chicago history with supporting information of all events listed. Also through Learn Chicago access "Bibliographies about Chicago," "Chicago in 1900," and "Deaths, Disturbances, Disasters and Disorders." Digital Collections, also on the homepage, gives information, images, and representations of primary sources on selected Chicago historical events.
Chicago Historical Society.
History Links from the Chicago Historical Society's homepage offer a wide variety of Chicago, Illinois, and general history sites. Chicago History Fair Bibliographies. Lists of materials that the Chicago Historical Society holds in its collections, pertaining to specific topics of Chicago history. Originally developed for students participating in the Chicago History Fair, these bibliographies can be used by casual researchers, the junior high and high school students, as well as by the more serious researcher. From the "Research and Collections" area of the homepage it is possible to accesss Research Links. These links provide a range of websites which include government and history resources. For example, the subject "Chicago-Architecture" links to the Frank LLoyd Wright Foundation and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Online Projects, also from the homepage, are studies of Chicago events, people, and places with digital images and primary sources. Subjects covered include: Haymarket Affair, Great Chicago Fire, Al Capone, World’s Columbian Exposition, Century of Progress Fair and Teen Chicago. The catalog of the Chicago Historical Society is not yet available online.
 Newberry Library: Scholl Center for Family and Community History.
Illinois Labor History Society.
Collects historical data about Chicago and its labor movements. Topics include: Pullman Strike, Memorial Day Massacre, and Haymarket Tragedy. Students may also visit their library or get help over the phone.
Finding and Using Websites for History Fair Research
History Helpers hosts our Resource Directory and Guide to evaluating and citing internet sources. It also contains rubrics for evaluating primary sources. History Fair hosts information about evenets and leads to topic essays.
Library of Congress
American Memory is the largest collection of historians, though not the only source. Many thematic or specialized collections are housed within the AmMem site, from African-American Pamphlets to the Collidge Era to the Works Progress Administration. Students may look in particular collections or through all of them; they can narrow the search to a particular time period, type of source, etc.
National Archives
Among government documents, many pertaining to Chicago, is a collection of photographs of Black Chicago in the 1970s. The great Lakes Regional office of NARA is located at 79th and Pulaski; personal help by staff and access to documents and microfilm.
Northern Illinois University Library
Houses a number of digital collections: Early Illinois, Gilded Age, Lincoln, Civil War. It also holds the back issues of Illinois History Teacher and other state government magazines.
Urban Experience in Chicago.
A mammoth collection of primary sources based on turn of the century Chicago through the work of Hull House -- but the wealth of materials makes it a must-search for many topics based in the time period.Center.
Great Migration/Primary Sources
Chicago History Project.Chicago/Metro History Education
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History grants, the project is a collaboration of CMHEC, CHS, Constitutional Rights Foundation, UIC, and the Newberry Library. Websites for American History are reviewed and linked.
Canal Corridor Association
Information about the Illinois and Michigan Canal; will link to the archives at Lewis University.
Digital Projects
On-line from Illinois libraries and historical societies.
Jazz Age Chicago
Teaching with Historic Places (National Park Service)
Two lesson plans, with photos, maps, and readings on Black Chicago and on Columbus Park.
Illinois State Archives
Use to search marriage, death, military service and other records for individuals.
Historical Census Browser
Local Archival Collections
Links to special collections in Chicago area.
Chicago Jewish Archives (Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies)
Collects historical material in all formats documenting the history of Jews in Chicago, including letters, diaries, photographs, memorabilia, audio and video tapes. Collections include the papers of families and individuals, Jewish organizations, synagogues, and oral histories.
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