One of the tools we use in our research is the Proquest digitized version of the Chicago Tribune from 1849 to 1990. It is available on the Chicago Public Library’s website, but to use it you need a valid Chicago Public Library card. Even if you don’t live in Chicago you can obtain one if your library has a reciprocal agreement with the CPL. To use only the on-line resources you can obtain an e-card which you can obtain on-line via their website.
The Chicago Public Library often changes its website ( www.chipublb.org ) . You will find this on-line tool under A-Z On-Line resources. Click “C” to find it.
This huge digital file is fully searchable. Use the advanced feature; it gives you more options.
There is an “and” and “or” feature. For example,in a single search you can limit the search to those items that have to all of three words or phrases, or you can specify the search that includes one word /phrase OR another word /phrase. Keep in mind that for certain items, such as obituaries or classified ads, the entire page is what is searched. Thus, for example if you entered Joseph Smith you might find a page that showed both Joseph Jones and Mary Smith, but no Joseph Smith. If you want to limit the search to just Joseph Smith you would have to enclose the name in quotes, e.g. “Joseph Smith.”
You can also limit by time period, that is after a certain date or between certain dates.
You can also specify the list of hits to be oldest first, newest first, and most relevant. We suggest using the oldest first option.
Since history did not end in 1990, if you want to search the Chicago Tribune after 1989, you will need to locate the “current” digital file. It is also found under “C” in the A-Z on line resources.
And of course you can use Google itself. This is often a good way to begin as you never know what you may find. You can use Google for specific addresses as well as names of persons, e.g. 1676 Summerdale, Chicago. It is best to add the word Chicago as there may be other streets or persons or organizations with the same name in other cities and towns.
Unfortunately the local newspapers that covered Edgewater and other northside neighborhoods have not been digitized. They are known as the Lerner newpapers because the Lerner family owned them for most of their life. They changed their names over time. At one time each community had its own, e.g. the Edgewater News; however, over time they were merged with other communities with a combined title, e.g. Edgewater Rogers Park News. Most of the issues before 1994 are available on microfilm at the Sulzer Regional Library. Click here
for a list of the titles and the dates of these newspapers. If you know the date or approximate date of a local event (e..g. month), you may find these newspapers a good source of additional information.
Census records are available through Ancenstry.com. The Newberry library has a full subscription and it can be accessed there using their computers on the second floor. Census records can also be searched on-line through HeritageQuest, which is available though the Chicago Public Library. HeritageQuest can be found under “H” in the A to Z on-line resources.
These directories cover residents and businesses within the City of Chicago from 1855 through 1917. There were two directories published after that: One in 1923 and another in 1928, which was the last published. Prior to 1890, these directories did not cover the area north of Fullerton, as these territories did not become part of the City of Chicago until the great annexation of 1889.
The city directories are divided into two sections: alphabetical and commercial. The commercial section is generally found at the rear and is organized by the type of business, e.g. grocers. The alphabetical directories not only give the addresses for a person, both business and home, but they also give the person’s occupation. They are a valuable resource in finding where a person lived at various points in time. The directories generally came out in June or July of each year.
There are also reverse directories (directories organized by street addresses). Unfortunately, they are not available for every year. The first is the 1928 Polk Directory. There is also a reverse directory for 1953 and 1955 (both available at Newberry).
The city directories are available at both the Chicago History Museum’s Research Center and at the Newberry Library. The Chicago History Museum has the directories in both book form and on microfilm. The Newberry Library has only the microfilm. The Newberry Library is generally the better choice. Once you register you get a pass that allows full access for one year without charge. The Chicago History Museum charges for access unless one is a member of the museum. Also, while the books at the Chicago History Museum are on an open shelf, the pages are very brittle and what you might be looking for may be missing. To obtain the microfilm you must request the year you want at the desk. At the Newberry, access is self service. Also, the Newberry Library is easier to reach. One can take the Red Line, get off at Chicago Avenue and walk three blocks north on Dearborn, or one can take the 147 Express bus south, get off at the first stop, and then walk two blocks west.
In addition, certain city directories are also searchable via HeritageQuest, which is available on line though the Chicago Public Library. (See above under Chicago Tribune.). Go to A to Z on-line resources, select the letter “H” and then “HeritageQuest.” One advanatage of HeritageQuest is that it searches the directories of other cities and towns as well as Chicago.
A limited number of city directories are also available on line via the Newberry Library. Click here
to access them.
Telephone directories,,both residential and commercial, for almost all years can be found on microfilm at the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library., first floor. Unfortunately, in some cases, either because of poor scanning or poorly functioning microfilm readers, the text is sometimes unreadable.
These books were published for the City of Chicago and some of its suburbs during the period 1890 through to 1916. They are different from the Chicago City Directories in that they do not include all residents, only those that paid to be listed, thus generally the well-to-do. Each Blue Book is divided into two sections: (1) an alphabetical directory, and (2) and a community section where the listings are by street address. These books are found on the open shelves of the Chicago History Research Center. There is also another book, the "Elite Book." It is similar to the Blue Book. The Chicago History Museum has only three volumes: 1889-1890; 1891-1892; 1898-1899.
The Harold Washington downtown Chicago Public Library has a special collections section devoted to Chicago neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods are better represented than others. At one time most neighborhood library branches had neighborhood collections; however, most of those collections were transferred to the Washington Library for better security and access. One of the exceptions to this consolidation is the special collections of the Ravenswood-LakeView neighborhoods. It is housed at the Sulzer Regional Library. An appointment is necessary to view the collection. LakeView as used here includes not only the neighborhood of Lake View but also the township and former town and city of Lake View, which includes Edgewater.
The Archives of the Board of Education maintains records of Board of Education proceedings and annual reports, which for the earlier years are very well indexed. They also have a collection of high school yearbooks, which while by no means complete is extensive. For earlier years, Board of Education records include lists of students who graduated from each school. You would need to know the name of the school and the approximate year of graduation. You can contact the Archives by calling 773-553-1600.
For Catholic schools, you would need to contact the individual school. If the school was closed, its records would be in the possession of the Archives of the Chicago Archdiocese, 711 W. Monroe, Chicago IL 6066, telephone 312-534-4450.
There are various maps of the City of Chicago and Cook County that can be useful for researchers. One of the most interesting are the fire insurance maps. Click here
to learn more about them. Click here
to access to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s excellent guide on how to find the particular map that covers a specific property that you might be interested in.
The Chicago History Museum, the Newberry Library, and the Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago have extensive collections.
For Edgewater, and for LakeView Township of which Edgewater is a part, you can find a number of maps on this website: Click here
for the map page.
Recap by places
Chicago Public library
Chicago Tribune digital archives (on-line)
City Directories (HeritageQuest) (on-line)
Census records (HeritageQuest) (on-line)
Chicago Telephone directories (on microfilm)
Chicago History Museum
Permit information (on-microfilm)
Permit information (American Contractor magazine 1898-1912, on-line)
City Directories (bound as well as on microfilm)
Blue Books (bound)
Economist magazine (1889 through 1944, bound)
American Contractor (1898-1912 bound)
Photocopies of permit information from both the Economist and the American Contractor
Sanborn fire insurance maps (bound)
Census records (via Ancesry.com, library’s computers)
Other genealogical sources (via Ancestry. Com, library’s computers)
City Directories (on microfilm)\
University of Illinois at Chicago, Daley Library
Fire insurance maps (special collections)
Permit information (on microfilm)
–prepared by LeRoy Blommaert, July 2016, revised February 2017