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Research

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

The archives hold a significant amount of material related to people and houses in Evanston. In addition, our staff has years of experience interpreting the primary sources and assisting people with figuring out the stories of their families and their homes.

  • Contact the archivist to learn about how they can help you with research.
  • Visit the Evanston History Center between 1-4 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday to conduct in-person research.
  • View the Evanston History Center’s digital collections.
  • Archival collections documenting many Evanston schools, churches, civic and social organizations, businesses, and residents, including correspondence and organizational records.
  • 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), film, videotapes, and DVDs.
  • Oral history interviews and other audio recordings

Collections

The Evanston History Center’s collections document and detail the rich history and growth of the city of Evanston. Our exhibits and research are entirely dependent on these collections.

Visitors can view artifacts on display while taking a tour of the Charles Gates Dawes House and by viewing our current exhibits.

A vast majority of the collections are in storage. Therefore, visitors can also make an appointment to see the artifact or costume collection. Research collections can be viewed with a research appointment or by viewing digital collections (coming soon).

To coordinate a private appointment, please contact Kris Hartzell for Artifact Collections, Rachel Jennens for Costume Collections, or Grace Lehner for Archives.

The Evanston History Center archives include many primary and secondary sources, such as city building records, Sanborn fire insurance maps, newspapers, city directories, photographs, VHS, oral histories, and many other materials documenting and detailing Evanston’s history.

The artifact collection is a vast array of objects that tell many stories of life in Evanston.

From toys to typewriters, fine china to glass bottles, and sports equipment to furniture. The collection even includes building signs and packaging from local stores.

EHC’s Costume Collection includes clothing worn by men, women, and children from throughout the community. In addition to garments, the collection includes accessories and other garment-related artifacts. The collection is the second most extensive costume collection in the state of Illinois.

Educational Resources

The Evanston History Center’s educational resources offers a variety of Evanston history resources for the general public, educations, and students. They include online exhibits, lesson plans, speakers bureau, and much more.

Visitors can view these resources by visiting our online collections (coming soon).

Interested in donating an item to the Evanston History Center's collection?

The Evanston History Center’s collections are always growing!

The EHC maintains collections that interpret the rich history of the City of Evanston and all its people.

Before an item is accepted into the collection, it is reviewed by curators. Not everything is accepted. Please review our donation criteria. If you think that you have materials to donate to the collection, please contact the EHC about making a donation.

  • The Evanston History Center collection is dedicated to Evanston-associated artifacts. Each item contributes to the multi-faceted story of our community and its people.
  • We carefully screen and curate our incoming donations before accepting the responsibility of their care. Each of the three collection divisions has a distinct curator. Please contact the appropriate person directly.
  • To offer a donation to the artifact collection, or for general questions, please contact Kris Hartzell, Director of Collections.
  • To offer a donation to the archives, please contact Grace Lehner, Director of Archives.
  • To offer a donation to the costume collection, please contact Rachel Jennens, Costume Curator.
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