Chicago happens to be one of my most favorite cities to visit. Along with its many sights, shopping and attractions, it is also home to one of the Midwest’s best historical & genealogical research libraries – The Newberry Library, located at 60 West Walton Street.
If you know the layout of Chicago pretty well, you will find it on foot, by walking North to the 900 block of N Michigan Ave, turning West on Walton Street. The Library will be on the north side of the street, across from Washington Square Park.
Or of course you can take a cab, bus, subway, bicycle or drive there. I came upon this library when I was researching my paternal grandfather, great grandfather & great great grandfather, none of whom I ever actually met, as they died before I was born. I had traced them to a certain county in Indiana and there I was stuck in my research, unable to proceed further back in time. A little detective work in the county courthouse gave me a clue that my great grandmother was jilted by her young husband, who deserted her and ran off to Chicago. My next step took me to the Newberry Library to try to find records there and sure enough, I found him there, living with another woman. I was also able to find my great great grandfather’s death certificate there. I was pretty excited to think that my ancestors were part of the Chicago historical fabric. My great great grandfather & grandmother were living near where a majority of the building laborers used to live (he was a carpenter). It is now the area near one of the major league baseball stadiums.
The Newberry Library features a Center for American History & Culture Programs, Center for American Indian Studies Programs, Center for Renaissance Studies Programs, and Center for the History of Cartography Programs.
Entry is free to all, but one can become a member of the Newberry Library by donating and participate in several activities and benefits. They have Adult Education Seminars that relate to the Newberry collections, programs for teachers and programs for genealogists. And near the end of July each year, there is the Annual Used Book Sale. Just inside the building, there is a bookstore one can browse through.