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Do Research at the History Center

Our staff specializes in providing historical resources and information. Visit our Research Room to:

  • Discover facts about your home or property
  • Conduct genealogical research and learn about your family’s past
  • Document the history of your business or organization
  • Study maps or photographs from bygone eras

Our wide-ranging collection of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff materials includes records and archives; a research library of books and clippings files; photographs; periodicals; maps, plats and blueprints; and three-dimensional objects.

We also have a number of research databases on our website, including phone books, that can be found on our Online Resources page.

Hours and Appointments

The Research Room is open by appointment. Our staff also welcomes research questions by phone or by email. To make an appointment or submit a research question, call 847-234-5253 or email the staff.

research room Policies

Photocopies can be made when the condition of the original allows, for 10 cents per page. We also have pricing options for scanning images in our collection and use of those images – find out more about our image policies and fees.

For extensive research requests or those from researchers unable to visit us in person, we offer a Research for Fee service at $25/hour. This service is contingent on staff availability. Contact the staff for more information.

Research Library

Our non-circulating research library includes over 300 books for researchers to browse, reference, and use.

These books on Lake Forest history are a useful place to start your research:

  • American Communities Company, Lake Forest: Art and History, 1916.
  • Edward Arpee, Lake Forest, Illinois History and Reminiscences: 1861-1961; supplement by Susan Dart.
  • Susan J. Banks, Susan L. Kelsey and Arthur H. Miller, eds., Celebrating Lake Forest’s 150 Years: 1861-2011.
  • Newton Bateman et al, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Lake County, 1902.
  • City of Lake Forest, City Charter and Ordinances, 1898, 1909.
  • Stuart Cohen and Susan Benjamin, North Shore Chicago: Houses of the Lakefront Suburbs, 1890-1940.
  • Kim Coventry, Daniel Meyer, and Arthur H. Miller, Classic Country Estates of Lake Forest: Architecture and Landscape Design, 1856-1940.
  • Susan Dart, Market Square, Lake Forest, Illinois.
  • Michael Ebner, Creating Chicago’s North Shore: A Suburban History.
  • Mary Lloyd Estrin, To the Manor Born.
  • John J. Halsey, A History of Lake County, Illinois, 1912.
  • Junior League of Evanston, Inc., An Architectural Album: Chicago’s North Shore.
  • Susan L. Kelsey and Shirley M. Paddock, Downtown Lake Forest.
  • Lake Forest Foundation for Historic Preservation, A Preservation Foundation Guide to National Register Properties, Lake Forest, Illinois.
  • Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society, Lake Forest Day: 100 Years of Celebration.
  • Arthur H. Miller and Shirley M. Paddock, Lake Forest: Estates, People, and Culture.
  • National Register of Historic Places Historic District Nomination Forms
    • East Lake Forest, Vine-Oakwood, Green Bay Road, Deerpath Hill Estates
  • Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, Among The Oak Trees: A History of People and Events that Created Lake Forest Hospital.
  • The Past and Present of Lake County, Illinois, 1877.
  • Franz Schulze, Rosemary Cowler, and Arthur Miller, 30 Miles North: A History of Lake Forest College, Its Town, and Its City of Chicago.

Topical Clippings Files

One of our best-loved research tools, our clippings files contain real estate listings, journal articles, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, magazine images, and previous research compiled by Historical Society volunteers. Categories include:

  • Businesses
  • Organizations
  • City of Lake Forest
  • Village of Lake Bluff
  • Schools
  • Architects
  • People/Family Names
  • Churches
  • Events
  • Obituaries
  • Residences (organized by address and/or estate name)