Chicago and the Midwest

Gaylord Watson. Chicago Fire Map. 1871.
Gaylord Watson. Chicago Fire Map. 1871. U 98.1632.
W.S.B. Mathews. Chicago Opera House. 1889.
W.S.B. Mathews. Chicago Opera House. 1889. Case V 209 .55, vol.#4.

The Newberry’s collections contain extensive research materials relating to the history of Chicago and the Midwest, including their settlement, growth, politics, and eclectic inhabitants. Explore the history of the Windy City and its surrounding area using cartographic resources, city directories, manuscript collections, newspapers and periodicals, and printed histories. In addition to the several research guides in the list below, our Research Guides page contains other subject-specific bibliographies and resources that can help researchers start their work in the Newberry’s collections. Please call the reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or Contact a Librarian with research questions.

Researching Chicago

Chicago Ancestors: An interactive online map of Chicago for genealogists and local historians created by the Newberry staff. Check the Tools page for links to other great Chicago resources.

Chicago and Midwestern Writers: A description of the Newberry’s rich collection of manuscripts, photographs, printed materials, periodicals, and ephemera related to Chicago and Midwestern writers.

Chicago Biography and Industry File: An index of over 48 volumes, published between 1876 and 1937, containing industial and biographical sketches. See also Biographical Resources.

Chicago Church and Synagogue Records: A guide to the location of church records for a variety of denominations.

Chicago History: A research guide to doing research on Chicago’s history at the Newberry.

Chicago Neighborhood Guide: A bibliography of neighborhood histories.

Encyclopedia of Chicago: Available in book format and online. Published by the Chicago History Museum and the Newberry.

Genealogy Collection Guides and Research Tools: A research guide listing commonly used sources for doing Chicago genealogy research at the Newberry.

Labor Trail: This resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago’s History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois.

Records and Histories of Professions in Chicago and Illinois: A guide to resources on various professions such as police, fire fighters and medical practitioners.

Digital Resources

Below is a list of related digital resources.

The story of the American West has exerted a powerful influence over the psyche of the modern world, helping to fashion senses of national identity as well as permeating literary and cinematic culture. The Graff collection is a unique resource which will allow scholars to explore all of these subject areas in great detail. *Access to this subscription database is only available on-site through any of the Newberry’s public computers.*

ChicagoAncestors is a project of the Genealogy and Local History section of the Newberry. The project is intended to help genealogists and local historians discover and share historical information about Chicago.

In partnership with the Chicago Genealogical Society, the Newberry has provided full-text searchable PDFs of volumes 1-39 (1969-2007) of the Chicago Genealogist.

When Chicago steel magnate Everett D. Graff walked into Wright Howes’ bookshop on Michigan Avenue in the 1920s he sparked one of the most important friendships in the book world.