Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Genealogy Resources at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago

The Harold Washington Library, in Chicago, Illinois, has a collection of material that could aid in genealogy research. They can be found in the Microfilm Room, on the third floor, where you will find rows of microfilm cabinets containing newspapers, city directories and telephone directories. Over the past six months, I have created inventories of what is currently available on microfilm for these collections and you can find them below.


The newspaper collection is by far the largest, taking up most of the space. The inventory I created was focused on newspapers from the Chicago area, although the library has many other newspapers on microfilm from around the world. The earliest available newspaper is the Chicago Democrat, beginning on November 26th, 1833.

You can view the inventory here: Chicago’s Historic Newspapers On Microfilm At The Harold Washington Library

City Directories

The library's collection of Chicago city directories ranges from 1839 through 1917, in 1923 and finally in 1928-1929. City directories contain the name of an individual, their occupation and address of residence. You may also come across a second address, an address of business, if the individual was a business owner. This collection is helpful in placing your ancestor at an exact addresses in Chicago between the censuses, as well as determining if they owned a business.

You can view the inventory here: Chicago City Directories On Microfilm At The Harold Washington Library

Telephone Directories

Where city directories end, the telephone directories pick up. The earliest telephone directory for Chicago was published in 1878. They are available for both the city of Chicago and Suburban Chicago up to 1971. The directories had separately published the Alphabetical (residential) and Classified (business), from 1914-1971. The library has directories from other localities throughout the entire state of Illinois: Algonquin, Alton, Altonwood River, Beardstown, Beecher, Big Rock, Cairo, Canton, Centralia, Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, Clinton County, Collinsville, Crown Point (Indiana), Danville, Decatur, Delavan, Dwight, Edgington, Edwardville, Elburn, Forest, Galina, Gibson City, Gilman, Greenville, Hampshire, Harristown, Harvey, Huntley, Ipava, Joliet, Kankakee, Kendall County, Kinmundy, Lake County, Lasalle, Lewistown, Lilly Lake, Lockport, Loves Park, Lowell, Manteno, McHenry, Momence, Morris, Mt. Vernon, Nashville, Oglesby, Olive Branch, Onarga, Oswego, Ottawa, Peoria, Peru, Petersburg, Plato Center, Quad Cities, Quincy, Rock Island, Rockford, Seneca, Springfield, West Suburban Exchange and Zion.

You can view the inventory here: Chicagoland Telephone Directories On Microfilm At The Harold Washington Library