Back to the WPL
Last week I visited the Wilmette Public Library and checked out their collection of genealogy books and reference materials. For this week’s 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy (hereafter 52WtBG) challenge, Amy Coffin asked us to return to our local library and this time check out the Local History Room and/or Special Collections area.
WPL’s Local History Room Closet
While the WPL is being renovated, their Local History materials are temporarily stored in a closet behind the reference desk. The reference librarians were nice enough to open it up and let me take a few pictures on the night I visited. When will everything be back to its rightful place? “Spring,” was the wistful answer from the reference staff.
What’s in the Local History Room?
Here are some of the materials housed in the Local History collection that sounded particularly useful to genealogists:
- Biography Files — interfiled obituaries, wedding announcements, letters, and general news items clipped from the local paper in alphabetical order
- Business Files and Directories — individual files on historical businesses in Wilmette, along with Wilmette Chamber of Commerce business directories for 1968-69, 1987-89, and 1999-present.
- Clubs and Associations –includes directories from groups like the Woman’s Club of Wilmette (1913-1915, 1922-1965) and the Wilmette Garden Club (1940s-present)
- Histories — published histories of the Village of Wilmette and Cook County. Only the most unique and fragile of these are housed here instead of on the regular library shelves.
- Photographs — All identified photos owned by the library of local residents, buildings and events are filed by topic and indexed. An online database of these photographs is in the works.
- Polk City Directories — The WPL has these for 1893, 1927-28, 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1939.
- Taxpayer Lists — Published lists for 1909, 1913, 1924 and 1931-1936 are organized roughly in alphabetical order by name with address.
- War Memorial — Info on Wilmette residents who died in war, and whose names are on the Village War Memorial, is maintained in notebooks which include biographies of each soldier.
The WPL’s Local History Room definitely deserves consideration by anyone researching a Wilmette ancestor. The unique resources it offers remain largely accessible during renovation and the knowledgeable reference staff are eager to help you get the most out of a research visit.