Chicago History and Collections

View information about CPL's history-related collections, programs, exhibits and other resources, and how to use them for research. Questions? Contact

CPL Through the Years

Visit our online visual history of Chicago Public Library, including photos from our archives and special collections.


Online Resources

Chicago Newspapers: Online and on Microfilm

Find current and historical local newspapers available online from anywhere or on microfilm at Harold Washington Library Center.

Chicago Tribune Historical Archive

Search the full text of the Chicago Tribune, including classified and display advertisements, from 1849 to 1997.

Newspapers, Sanborn Maps and More

History & Genealogy Events

History & Genealogy Events


As part of research and discovery, our Exhibits department helps develop exhibitions based on Archives and Special Collections and also helps local organizations explore exhibition or artmaking opportunities. Browse some of the recent exhibits launched at CPL.

Chicago History in the Archives

Photos of Chicago's Past

Special Collections Divisions at CPL

Special Collections at HWLC

The Special Collections and Preservation Division at HWLC showcases rare and unique materials focusing on Chicago.

Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection

The Vivian G. Harsh Collection at Woodson Regional Library is the largest African American history and literature collection in the Midwest.
Girl with tricycle

Northside Neighborhood History Collection

The Northside Neighborhood History Collection at Sulzer Regional Library houses historical and contemporary materials.

Municipal Reference Collection

Learn about the trove of Chicago information in the Municipal Reference Collection at Harold Washington Library Center.

Local Resources

In addition to the archives and special collections available at the CPL, these resources and organizations provide cultural heritage assistance and access.

Chicago Collections Consortium

Chicago Collections is a consortium of institutions with archives that work to preserve the history and culture of the Chicago region.

Black Metropolis Research Consortium

The BMRC’s mission is to connect all who seek to document, share, understand and preserve Black experiences.

Chicago Area Archivists

CAA provides opportunities for local archivists, historians, librarians and others in the Chicago metro area to discuss and learn together.
Back to Top