Chicago newspapers date back to 1833, the year the city was incorporated, and provide a rich source for family history information.
While there are some things that you won't find—birth announcements in the early Chicago Tribune, for example—there are many things you will find if you search carefully.
Chicago newspapers include marriage and death notices, articles about interesting divorce and probate cases, stories about prominent people, and articles about crimes that often include the names of victims.
In addition to providing information about individuals, Chicago newspapers are a rich source for background information related to genealogy searches. For example, articles about naturalization, census enumeration, and canvassing for city directories can provide valuable insights into how those records were created. Articles may also tell the story of a church congregation or help you learn more about the history of city institutions.
And the list goes on!
One of the best ways to locate offline Chicago newspapers, is to check the Illinois Newspaper Project database, a comprehensive list of holdings across the state. Search by title, city, and/or year, browse by title, or use the interactive map to locate local newspapers.
The database entries will tell you which papers are available for what years and where they're held.
If you're not able to visit the repository that holds the newspaper you need, check with your local library to see if interlibrary loan is available or contact the repository directly to see if they offer research assistance.
The following research facilities have significant collections of Chicago newspapers: Harold Washington Library, Newberry Library, Chicago History Museum, Arlington Heights Library, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (Springfield).
There are many Chicago newspapers available online at both free and subscription sites. The list below is just a sample of what's available.
The Library of Congress' Chronicling America includes the Chicago newspapers listed below. They can be searched or browsed for free on the website.
Chicago Daily Press and Tribune, 1858-1859
Chicago Daily Tribune, 1860-1864, 1872-1875
Chicago Eagle, 1889-1922
Chicago Tribune, 1864-1872
Dziennik narodowy, 1900-1918
The Chicago Tribune is widely available online through ProQuest. If you live in the Chicago area, you may be able to access it through your local library's website using your library card. It's also available on Fold3.
You can access the Chicago Tribune, 1849-1923, on Fold3.com. It's a subscription site, but you can use it for free at any Family History Center. The path is Fold3 > Non-military Records > Newspapers > Chicago Tribune.
Genealogy Bank lists 450+ newspapers for Illinois including a signficant number of Chicago titles. On the one hand, the issue count for many of the papers is small; on the other hand, even if there's just one issue available, it might be just the one you need. A short list of the titles with the most widespread relevance is provided below. For a full list of their current offerings, browse their titles for Illinois.
Daily Inter Ocean, 1865-1896
Sunday Times, 1869-1876
Latin Times, 1958-1975
Newspaper Archive lists many Chicago titles, including neighborhood newspapers, but check carefully before subscribing as there may be significant gaps in coverage. For example, The Chicago Daily News is listed as "1879-1945, but the browse-by-date option only shows three years, 1879, 1923, and 1845. It is a subscription site, but it can be accessed for free at Family History Centers. For a full list of their current offerings, browse their titles for Illinois.
Newspapers includes a number of Chicago titles, a sample of which is listed below. For a full list of their current offerings, browse their titles for Illinois.
Chicago Daily Tribune, 1849-1963
Chicago Eagle, 1892–1920
Chicago Heights Star, 1911–1955
Chicago Tribune, 1849–2017
Daily Herald (Chicago), 1901–2006
Day Book (Chicago), 1911–1917
Inter Ocean 1872–1914
Southtown Economist, 1921–1964
Suburbanite Economist, 1905–1975
If you know of other online newspapers that should be added to this list, please let us know.
There are many Chicago newspapers, both online and offline. Search the Illinois Newspaper Project to see what's available. It's worth searching online newspapers for names, addresses, and institutions of interest. If you're looking for specific articles and know the approximate date, especially if you're looking for obituaries, it's also worth searching offline newspapers or hiring someone to do it for you. The Harold Washington Library and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library have large newspaper collections. Chicago newspapers can provide valuable background information for your research.
One of the best ways to locate Chicago newspapers, is to check the Illinois Newspaper Project database, a comprehensive list of holdings across the state. Search by title, city, and/or year, browse by title, or use the interactive map to locate local newspapers.
If you access Chicago newspapers using subscription sites, full-text search is available.
Specialty indexes include the following:
Sam Fink's Index to Marriages Mentioned in Newspapers, 1833-1871
This index is available on Ancestry and on FamilySearch microfilm but the entries also appear in the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index with the word "FINK" in the license number column. If you find a match, you will need to go to the original to find the newspaper code. See the blog post titled Sam Fink's Marriage-Death Index Available on Ancestry for detailed information.
Yes. Well-known titles include Illinois Staats-Zeitung (German), available through FamilySearch, Dziennik Chicagoski (Polish), and Denni Hlasatel (Czech). Check the Illinois Newspaper Project for additional titles and access information.
An index to Denni Hlasatel obituaries, 1891-1970 is available in print. Check worldcat.org for availability. The Polish Genealogical Society of America has indexed Dziennik Chicagoski death notices, 1890-1929. See their Dziennik Chicagoski Death Notices 1890-1929 web page for more information.
Banner image created from Chicago Daily Tribune, 27 October 1860, p. 1; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov : accessed 24 April 2017).
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