Research Online

Discover history at your fingertips! 

You can access hundreds of stories in our digital exhibits, browse thousands of photographs in our online catalog, or use databases for research.

Research Online

Online Exhibits

Lake Forest and Lake Bluff History Online

Discover Lake Forest/Lake Bluff history through the 300+ stories on our digital exhibits – and add a story or photograph yourself to help expand our archive and tell our community’s story.

Twenty in the 20s: A Century of Change

From roles and responsibilities to fashion, to the boundaries on aspirations, we look at the role of young women entering adulthood as it was envisioned by society in 1920 and how it is defined today.

A Candid Look at Covid-19

Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents document the first few months of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic through their camera lenses.

Facing School 2020

How local students, teachers and parents are facing a return to school amidst a pandemic.

History of Epidemics and History of Vaccines

A presentation adapted from our 2019 panel discussion "Managing Epidemics Over Time," and an overview of the history of vaccination efforts put together by board member and medical microbiologist Tom Thomson

A Spark of Genius: Local Inventors and Their Discoveries

Guide from a 2005 exhibit about local inventors, including Willard Morrison, Albert Blake Dick, Elisha Gray, Albert L. Marsh, Dr. Ernest Volweiler, and Dr. Donalee Tabern.

Online Tours of Lake Forest

Arcady Farm and its Neighbors

Thank you to Marge McClintock who has helped unravel the history of Arcady Farm and its neighboring properties in this self-guided, walking tour. A thirty year resident of Lake Forest, Marge lives in the Arcady neighborhood and is an avid gardener, nature enthusiast and history lover. During walks around the land, and while digging in her own garden, she has discovered several remnants and artifacts that have helped piece together this fascinating tour. In addition, Marge has spent hours researching the many people, places and events associated with this historic property throughout the past century. 

Lake Road Walking Tour

Immerse yourself in the magnificent architectural and community history of Lake Forest's Lake Road. The tour will open in a simple PDF file that is formatted for phones and tablets. Tour is 1.25 miles and takes about 25 minutes to walk.

11 Stately Observers: Witness Trees of Lake Forest

Leaf through Lake Forest's past on this journey highlighting the town's arboreal landmarks - trees that have observed history at significant Lake Forest sites. Tour is designed for driving or biking.

Online Databases and Documents

Online Collections Catalog

Browse through over 6,000 photographs from our museum collection.

Telephone Directories, 1900-1968

Transcriptions of historic Lake Forest/Lake Bluff telephone books; very helpful for genealogy or house history

Timeline of Lake Forest History

Highlights chronological milestones in Lake Forest’s past. (Published in 2011 in honor of Lake Forest's sesquicentennial.)

City of Lake Forest Officials Database

Find all the Lake Forest alderman, city managers, treasurers, city marshals and mayors and their years of service

Lake Forest City Charter

Text from Lake Forest’s City Charter, approved in 1861, amended in 1869

Lake Forest Lodge 1026, Petitions for Membership and Degrees

A database of genealogical information taken from petitions for membership and degrees for Lake Forest Masonic Lodge 1026. (For petitioners born in 1913 or later, visit to access the complete archive.)

1877 List of Lake County Taxpayers (selections from LF/LB area)

Includes name, occupation, and occasionally biographical information. Transcribed from The Past and Present of Lake County, Illinois,  Chicago: Wm. Le Baron & Co, 1877.


Online Local History Resources from Elsewhere

Newspapers

  • The Lake Forester - via the Lake Forest Library
  • The Chicago Tribune - via the Lake Forest Library
    • With your Lake Forest Library card, you can use ProQuest to search the Historical Chicago Tribune from 1849-1989 (library card # required for login).
  • Lake Forest College Stentor - via Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections
    • Student newspaper; 1898-1921 available online
  • Lake Forest College newspaper, The Black Rap - via Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections
    • Launched by Black students at Lake Forest College in the late 1960s and continued through the 1980s; recently relaunched in 2020
  • Lake County newspapers, 1890s-1930s - via Cook Memorial Public Library
    • Includes both full-text and/or index searches of the Lake County Independent, Lake County Independent and Waukegan Weekly Sun, Lake County Register, and Libertyville Independent
  • Wilmette newspaper database - via Wilmette Public Library
    • Includes both full text and/or index searches of Wilmette-area newspapers like Wilmette Life, Lake Shore News and The Local News, for various years.
  • Evanston History Center Historic Newspaper Collectionvia Evanston History Center
    • Digitized images from the newspaper microfilm collection at the Evanston History Center, 1872-1922

Maps and Aerials

Architecture and House History

Cemeteries

Records and Genealogy

Digitized Histories, Essays and Articles

Schools and Youth

Tours

  • African-American History in Lake Forest - via Lake Forest College
    • Published 1997, partial update 2011
  • Lake Forest Go app - via City of Lake Forest
    • (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the link to download or visit app store)
  • East Lake Forest Walking Tour - via Lake Forest Preservation Foundation
    • Published 2020. Visit an app store to download.
  • Lake Bluff Walking Tours - via Lake Bluff History Museum
    • Click or visit an app store to download
  • Ride By Architecture - via Evanston Bicycle Club
    • Bike routes created by the Evanston Bicycle Club, with help from the History Center and other local museums, that pass by a variety of architectural gems on the North Shore. (An app is available for download with voice navigation.)

Blogs and Websites

Online Collections and Archives

  • Lake Forest Library Archives - via Illinois Digital Archives
    • Images and articles related to Lake Forest Library, City Hall, Market Square, Edwin Hill Clark, and Villa Turicum
  • Lake Bluff Online Collections Database - via Lake Bluff History Museum
    • Digitized photos and archives housed at the Lake Bluff History Museum
  • Explore Chicago Collections
    • Online portal for searching photographs and archives housed at institutions throughout the Chicago region
  • Online Resources from the Chicago History Museum
    • Online catalog, digital images, online exhibits, Encyclopedia of Chicago, and more
  • Illinois Digital Archives
    • Online repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library as well as other libraries and cultural institutions in the State of Illinois
  • CARLI Digital Collections
    • Repository for digital content created by member libraries of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois - includes images and special collections