Chicago Biography and Industry File | Newberry

Chicago Biography and Industry File

In a previous post, we introduced you to the Newberry Index. Another “uniquely Newberry” index is the Chicago Biography and Industry File (CBIF). This research guide is an index of biographical and industrial sketches of people and industries that appeared in forty-eight biographies and guides, all of which are in the Newberry collection. These volumes were primarily published between 1876 and 1937.

The CBIF sources include ethnic directories (German, Czech, Italian, Polish and others), business or occupational listings (musicians, attorneys, manufacturers and wholesalers) and general bibliographical publications. Although the majority of the individuals listed are men, there are some entries for women, many of which are taken from Who’s Who in Illinois, Women - Makers of History by Agness Geneva Gilman. There are also many company listings included.

Arranged alphabetically by surname (or company name), each entry includes a source abbreviation, the page number within the source where the individual or company is mentioned, and the page number of a portrait if one was included. The front of the CBIF includes a key to the sources along with a Newberry call number. If we’ve been able to locate a digital copy of the source, a link is provided as well.

For example, the CBIF listing for “Estes, L.V. (incorporated)” lists a source of MWI2 and pages 380-383. A quick check of the source listing at the front of the book gives the following citation: Currey, J. Seymour. Manufacturing and wholesale industries of Chicago. Chicago : Thomas B. Poole, 1918. Call Number: H 7083 .205. It also indicates that volume two is available on Google Books.

The entry on pages 380-383 provides: the details of the founding of L.V. Estes; their primary business as Efficiency Engineers; Mr. Estes’s background and experience; the organizational structure of the company; and contact information.


I inherited a mirrored dresser from my Grandmother. It was originally my Great Grandmother's, came to Montana when they homesteaded. The dresser is in excellent condition. On the back is the following information: L V Estes Inc., 6-10M 12.21. Can you give me any idea of how to research this piece?
@Dawna - L.V. Estes Inc. specialized in helping companies implement more efficient processes. It appears that sometimes their employees would work in the factories to assist in this effort. I suspect that this might have been the case with the manufacturer who made your dresser. Unfortunately I was unable to locate any extant records from the Estes Company to determine who their clients were. You may want to read the description in:

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