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.

Based on an exhibition originally mounted at the Newberry, this website explores how two histories, that of the United States and that of Indian peoples along the expedition route, came together two hundred years ago and how they remain intertwined today.

In the form of original scholarship and images, this exhibit charts the political and personal course of Lincoln’s views leading up to and during his presidency.

In images and text, this digital exhibit examines how The Plan of Chicago, or the “Burnham Plan,” contributed to the development and aspirations of the Chicago’s urban landscape.

This exhibit is meant to encourage civic engagement with the struggles over democracy and citizenship, which have occupied Chicagoans for the duration of the city’s political history.