Explore > Local History
Looking for photos of your house in the '40s? Curious about the history of the El or trolley lines? We've got a collection of print and online resources that can help. If you'd like some general research assistance, give us a call or email; we'll do our best to point you in the right direction.
Local History Online
The Forest Park Review Archives go all the way back to 1917. Every newspaper is fully searchable by date and keyword, so it is easy to find out information about people and places from Forest Park's past.
The Chicago Tribune Archives are accessible through the Chicago Public Library. Forest Park Library cardholders are eligible for a free CPL card, which grants access to all the online resources available though CPL. Or, the Forest Park librarians can perform a search for you at the library.
Roos Cedar Chests
The library has no information on how to determine the age or value of Roos cedar chests. Please contact an antique dealer for this type of information. To the best of our knowledge, there is no publicly available reference that gives years of manufacture by model number or serial number. However, we do have a collection of information on the company (PDF, 10MB), which was in business from 1916 - 1951. Interested indivduals might also contact the Forest Park Historical Society.
The library is the custodian of various historical artifacts recovered during construction projects in Forest Park. Information on these artifacts has been compiled in this document. (PDF, 34MB)
Local History at the Library
The library is currently working to digitize our collection of documents and photos from Forest Park's history. Check back soon for links to these items! If you have any documents or photographs you would like to contribute, please contact the reference department at (708) 366-7171.
Kenneth Knack's book on Forest Park, from the Images of America series, compiles many historical photographs of the area. For transportation history, Chicago & West Towns Railways: Transit Service in Chicago's Near West Suburbs, by James J. Buckley is a great resource on Forest Park's streetcar lines. Nearby METRA lines are covered in Chicagoland Commuter Railroads, by Patrick C. Dorin and Andrew T. Roth.
For a full listing of the Library's Local History collection, give us a call or stop by. All materials are available for Interlibrary Loan.
The Historical Society of Forest Park is currently located on the second floor of 7415 Madison St., in a space donated by building owner Art Sundry.
Visits to the collection can be arranged by appointment, and interested parties can call the Historical Society at (708) 232-3747, or mail inquiries to PO Box 1368, Oak Park, IL 60304. Society President Augie Aleksy has indicated that historic research services will also be available. A regular appointment schedule is planned beginning in the third or fourth quarter of 2012.
Historical maps at local libraries are ideal for researching properties. For help accessing any of the resources below, please contact a librarian.
Sanborn Fire Maps at the Chicago Public Library The Sanborn Maps were originally created for assessing fire damage in urban areas, and remain a useful tool in researching the history of a property. The maps cover the years between 1867 and 2007 and now provide an important record of urban architecture in the past two centuries. Look for "Forest Park (Harlem)" in the list of covered suburbs.
Haines Directories These criss-cross directories allow you to find a person only knowing their phone number or address, the reverse of a traditional directory. Available at many local libraries, the Haines directory can be requested through our catalog.
City Directories at the Chicago Public Library These directories cover a wide variety of subjects in Chicago and area suburbs.
This Forest Home Cemetery Tour Guide provides a look into one of Forest Park's most important historical aspects, its many cemeteries. This presentation can be loaded onto your Flash-capable smartphone for a self-led tour of Forest Home cemetery.