Research Room & Archive

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The EHC Research Room and Archive is reopening with some restrictions for public health and safety

The EHC is limiting the number of visitors to the EHC research room and archive. The research room and archive will be open Tuesdays – Thursday and Saturday from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Researchers must pick a 75-minute slot and can choose either 1:00-2:15 pm or 2:30-3:45 pm.

Click here to request a slot

Submitting this form does not reserve your requested date and time. We will get back to you shortly to confirm once we check availability.

The wearing of face coverings during the entire time visitors are in the research room is required. The registered researcher only will be admitted. No bathroom facilities will be available.

We have waived our regular fees for non members. Please consider joining to support EHC.

Click here to become a member today!

Research Room and Archive

Summary of Holdings

The Evanston History Center’s Archival Collection is extensive and offers a comprehensive view of Evanston over time.

For a complete list of the EHC’s archival collections click here to see Processed CollectionsYou may need to download Adobe Reader. Click on this link for the free application.

  • Archival collections documenting many Evanston schools, churches, civic and social organizations, businesses and residents, including correspondence and organizational records (minutes, financial reports, etc)
  • Building records, including: house files with city records and real estate listings for every house in Evanston and some commercial structures; Sanborn fire insurance maps; blueprints and plat surveys for many structures; and documentation for historic districts and local landmarks
  • Records of the town, village, and city of Evanston, and Ridgeville and Evanston township, from the 1840s to the present
  • Newspapers, and clipping files from local newspapers, including the Evanston Index, Evanston Press, Evanston News, Daily News, Evanston News-Index, Evanston Review, and Evanston Roundtable
  • Books and publications on various subjects, including:
    • Evanston history and Evanston authors
    • Evanston City Directories from 1879-1963 (some including Rogers Park and other North Shore communities)
    • Evanston Telephone Directories from 1926 through the present
    • Evanston Architecture
    • Family history
  • Maps of Evanston and vicinity
  • Photographs (biographical and subject files), slides, film, videotapes, and DVDs
  • Oral history interviews and other audio recordings

Location

The Evanston History Center is located at 225 Greemwood Street, Evanston, IL 60201 (View map)

The Research Room and Archive is in the basement level of the Dawes House. Entry to the archives is on the west side (driveway side) of the house. Take the steps that lead downstairs to the archives.

Hours

Tuesdays – Thursday and Saturday from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Visitors must pick a 75-minute slot. Visitors can choose either 1:00-2:15pm or 2:30-3:45pm.

Click here to request a slot
Submitting this form does not reserve your requested date and time. We will get back to you shortly to confirm once we check availability.

Admission

The Evanston History Center has waived the normal research room fee for non-members. We hope you will consider becoming a member! You can do so by clicking here.

Photocopies, photograph reproductions and publication rights are available for additional fees.

Parking

Free street parking is available on Greenwood Street.

Accessibility

The Evanston History Center is mostly wheelchair accessible. There is a wheelchair lift on the driveway and a ramp into the house. The second floor has limited accessibility. An elevator goes to the second floor and basement, it does not accommodate modern wheelchairs.

There are 6 stairs up to the front door with railings. For additional information or specific inquires, please call 847-475-3410.

For guests’ comfort, the Center does have climate control throughout the year.

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General History Questions

General (and brief) Evanston history questions can be made by phone (847) 475-3410 or by emailing Archivist Grace Lehner at glehner@evanstonhistorycenter.org.

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Fees for Private Research

Research requests can be made for more extensive research projects. Our research fee applies and the acceptance of the request is at the discretion of the archivist.

Hourly Fee: $30 per hour, one-hour minimum. Research fees must be paid before research can begin.  We accept cash or check (made out to the Evanston History Center) by mail, or you can call with your credit card information

Please contact Archivist Grace Lehner by calling (847) 475-3410 or emailing at glehner@evanstonhistorycenter.org to make a research request.

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Research a House

Tracing your house’s history can seem like a daunting task. With a little creativity and perseverance (and a trip to the EHC archives) you too can discover the story of your historic Evanston home.

Click here to download a guide to discovering your House History at EHC (You may need to download Adobe Reader. Click on this link for the free application.)

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Research a Family

You may be wondering where to start on a family history project, especially if your family lived in Evanston a long time ago, or the records you have are very incomplete. EHC has resources and staff to help you with this.

Click here to download a guide to researching your Family History at EHC (You may need to download Adobe Reader. Click on this link for the free application.)

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Oral Histories

The Evanston History Center (EHC) began collecting oral history interviews in 1970. Over the years these interviews have been added to and the collection now numbers almost 500 interviews. Most interviews were recorded on cassette tapes.

In 2015, EHC received a grant from the Illinois State Records Advisory Board (through funding from the National History the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), National Archives and Records Administration) to completely digitize the oral history collection. The taped interviews were transferred to MP3 files, for ease of access, and to WAV files for long-term preservation.

Access to Oral History Files

All of the interviews are now available at the EHC. To access the audio files of the interviews you can visit EHC during our research hours, or by appointment with the archivist. If you are not able to visit Evanston, access may be available but restrictions may apply.

A complete list of all of the interviews and other details about the collection can be found by clicking here. For most interviews, transcripts are not available. Where they are available, they are listed.

For more information, email glehner@evanstonhistorycenter.org.

EHC wishes to thank the Illinois State Records Advisory Board, the NHPRC, and the National Archives for their support of this project.

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Other Resources

There are great Evanston history resources available online in other collections:

City Directories

Many Evanston City Directories are available online at the Internet Archive. Click to go to the Internet Archive Collection.

Newspapers

Evanston History Center Historic Newspaper Collection, 1872-1922 The Evanston History Center Historic Newspaper Collection consists of digitized and edited images from the microfilm collection of Evanston newspapers at EHC. The images span the dates 1872-1922 and are from three separate newspapers published during those years: the Evanston Index (June 6, 1872 to December 19, 1914), the Evanston Daily News (April 1, 1912 to December 31, 1914), and the Evanston News-Index (January 1, 1915 to December 30, 1922). Though the EHC newspaper collection includes later images (both in hard copy and microfilm) only issues from before 1923 were digitized to avoid any copyright restrictions.

This digitization project was completed during the summers of 2015-2017 by graduate students of Northwestern University (NU) and was sponsored by the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies at NU. Project collaborators were: the Evanston History Center, the Northwestern Library, and the History Department at Northwestern. Substantial technical assistance was provided by the NU library and its staff, with special thanks to Peter Burtch and Josh Honn. NU graduate students who managed the project’s work were Sam Kling (who initiated the project), Bonnie Ernst, and Beth Healey. Users should be aware that a test showed that the search capability of the images is only 40-45% due to the condition of the original newspapers (when microfilmed) and the condition of the microfilm images.

Click here to view this collection.

The Evanston Public Library has information about local Evanston newspapers and their availability online.

Click here to view this collection.

Encyclopedia of Chicago

Many entries in this comprehensive online Encyclopedia of the history of Chicago and the Chicago area are Evanston related.

Click here to learn more.

Other Archival Collections

These collections have significant holdings of Evanston history materials and may be useful to researchers:

Shorefront Legacy Center

Northwestern University Archives

Evanston Public Library