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Are there any other resources?

There are a number of books available at the library which can help your search including:

  • A Field Guide to American Houses - McAlester, Virginia & Lee
  • The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture - Carley, Rachel
  • Researching Your Illinois House: Compiling a History of Your 1820-1920 Home - Koos,Greg
What other tips you can give me?      
  • Begin your research with the most recent documents and work your way backwards to the original owner. 
  • Make copies of every relevant document you find, they will be more reliable than handwritten notes.   
  • Talk to people in the neighborhood, older residents may remember things that will not show up in documents. 
  • Look around your house, the materials that were used in construction as well as the style of the structure can give clues as to when it was built.             
What can I do with the information I found?  

The documents and details you uncover will tell a unique story about your home.  We not only encourage you to preserve this information for future generations of your family, but for the community as well.  If you are interested in donating a copy of your research, please contact Local History by email or at 708-422-4990.  A donation will ensure that your research is safely stored and made available to present and future Oak Lawn residents.     

Researching Your Home


Why research my home?

No matter its age your home has a history waiting to be uncovered.  Although researching its past can be a challenge, the information below will guide you to available resources.                 


What am I looking to find?old photo

During your search you may look to find the answers to many questions including:

  • When was the structure built?
  • Who constructed the home?
  • Who has owned the property?
  • Who has lived in the house?
  • Did any newsworthy events take place in or near the home?


Where do I begin?

The Oak Lawn Public Library:

Local History - There are many resources available in Local History which may assist you including telephone books (1924-2011), photographs, maps, and other documents.  A large portion of our archives is available online through a database search on the Local History Page.  If you wish to come into the library to conduct research, we ask that you email or call the Local History Coordinator at 708-422-4990 to confirm that we have materials related to your search.     

Reference - The computers in the Reference Department or Computer Lab have access to several electronic databases including Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest Online.  These databases will allow you to view census records and other documents which may be relevant to your search.  Reference also holds a collection of Haines Criss - Cross Directories (1973-2011).     

Periodicals - The Periodicals Department maintains a large collection of local newspapers on microfilm including the Oak Lawn Independent (1933-2007), Oak Lawn News (1967-1982), Southwest Suburbanite (1959-1962), and Southtown Economist (1924-1993).  These newspapers may hold information related to the home you are researching.       

Click here to visit the Oak Lawn Public Library's web page


The Chicago Public Library:

The Chicago Public Library has access to an extensive database of Sanborn fire insurance maps, several of which feature sections of Oak Lawn in 1911, 1949, and 1952.  The database and accompanying index can be accessed under "Illinois Sanborn Maps" from the list here.  In order to search the database and view these maps, you must have a Chicago Public Library Card.  These can be issued to residents of Oak Lawn by following the instructions described on this page.   

Click here to visit the Chicago Public Library's web page


The Cook County Recorder of Deeds:

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds has documents related to properties in Cook County dating back to 1871.  If the property you are researching was purchased after October 1st,1985, you may search a database available here.  If the property was purchased before then, the records exist in "tract books" and are only available at the Recorder's downtown facility.  You will need the legal description and PIN number of the property you are interested in before beginning your research.


The Cook County Clerk:

The Cook County Clerk has documents, including birth certificates (75 years or older) and death certificates (20 years or older), which may help you discover information about previous residents or owners.  These can be accessed through an online database available here.         

Click here to visit the Cook County Clerk's web page


The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court:

The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court holds documents related to probate cases (1871-present).  These can be accessed through the court's archives located in downtown Chicago.   

Click here to visit the the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court's web page


The Illinois State Archives:

The Illinois State Archives contains records that may be helpful in your search including an online Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database and digitized Federal Township Plats of Illinois.  The Archive also holds State Census Records (1820-1865) which are available via request (mail, telephone, internet) or at the State Archives Building in Springfield. 

Click here to visit the Illinois State Archives web page


The Illinois Regional Archives Depository - Chicago Branch:

Located in the Ronald Williams Library at Northeastern Illinois University, the Illinois Regional Archives Depository contains many different records related to Cook County including a birth record index (1871-1916), death record index (1871-1916), probate records (1871-1923) , wills (1879-1928), and public domain land sales records.  These records and others are available for research at the depository or through mail and telephone requests.         

Click here to visit the Illinois Regional Archives Depository web page


The above list is not intended to be comprehensive.  We encourage individuals to contact other institutions while conducting their research. 



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