Print Resources in the Local History Room
Our local history collection includes biographical information, house history information, newspaper clippings, local newspapers, oral histories, city directories, high school yearbooks, photographs, and more. The local history room is located on the first floor, and is available by appointment only. Please contact our local history and genealogy librarian, EvaAnne Johnson, to set up an appointment. Viewing yearbooks does not require an appointment; please ask a librarian to retrieve a yearbook for you.
We collect obituaries, wedding announcements, letters, and general news item clippings about prominent Wilmette residents in a series of biography notebooks. These are organized by last name, and many of these clippings are included in the online newspaper index of the Wilmette Life.
We collect newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and other materials related to businesses in our vertical files. The files are organized under the heading BUSINESS, and then by name of business. The Local History files also contain WILMETTE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE business directories for 1968-69, 1987-89, 1999-current year. Older directories contain the name and address of the owner, as well as information about the business. Search our index of vertical files here.
Information on Churches is listed under the heading of CHURCHES in our vertical files, and then by denomination and name. Denominations include Baptist, Catholic, Christian Science, Congregational, Episcopal, Latter-Day Saints, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and 7th Day Adventist. Specific churches or organizations include the Baha'i Temple, Skokie Valley Baptist, St. Joseph Catholic Church, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, St. John Evangelical Church, Wilmette Evangelical Church, and Mission of the Guardian Angel.
Information for local Synagogues are listed under the heading SYNAGOGUES. Congregations in this folder include Beth Hillel.
The library has a few Polk city directories for the years 1893, 1927-28, 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1939. These directories can be used to confirm the residence of a family in Wilmette, to get street addresses, and in some cases, obtain information on occupation. The Wilmette Historical Museum has an online index to Wilmette directories for 1890, 1898, 1908 and 1946.
The library has telephone books for Wilmette and Kenilworth for the following years: 1909-1912, 1924-1942, 1945, 1960-68, 1982. Several of these are available online.
We have some materials relating to local clubs, organizations, and associations. These materials are organized under the heading GROUPS in our vertical files. Search our index of vertical files here.
The library also owns some directories published by local clubs and associations. These are stored in the metal cabinet. Some of these include the Woman’s Club of Wilmette directories, dating from 1913-1915, 1922-1965, and 1972. The Wilmette Garden Club directories date from the 1940s.
The Local History Room has a collection of published books and histories relating to the history of Wilmette, Kenilworth, and the local area. These books have largely been cataloged and can be located by using the library’s catalog to search under “Wilmette -- History,” or “Cook County -- History.”
Some of the general histories of Wilmette and Kenilworth include:
- Wilmette at 150, by John Jacoby
- Wilmette : a history, by George D. Bushnell
- Antoine Ouilmette : a resident of Chicago A. D. 1790-1826, by Frank R. Grover
- Kenilworth, first fifty years
- Ouilmette : life in 1847
- Frontiers of old Wilmette : a series of historical sketches of the beginnings of the village, by Herbert B. Mulford
- Wilmette and the suburban whirl : a series of historical sketches of life in the suburb from the turn of the century, by Herbert B. Mulford
- The history of New Trier Township, 1850-2001 : 150 years of grassroots government
- Wilmette (Images of America), by Kathy L. Hussey-Arnston
- Looking back: essays on Wilmette history, by David C. Leach, Jr.
The 1956 book Wilmette and the Suburban Whirl : a Series of Historical Sketches of Life in the Suburb from the Turn of the Century by Herbert Mulford is also available digitally through the Library’s local history website.
Clippings from newspapers and magazines about local houses are organized by address in our “House” binders, kept in the Local History Room. You may also find house-walk programs that detail the history of some of the older homes in the village, or copies of zoning records regarding that address. Learn more about researching your house’s history on our House History page.
The Local History Room includes Wilmette Public Library’s archives, including early history, early library accessions, and pre-1950s library ledgers. Learn more about the library’s history on our Library History page.
The library has microfilm of historic local newspapers including The Local News (1891-1916), Lake Shore News (1912-1923) and Wilmette Life (1923-2013). The oldest newspapers are missing many issues and are not complete. The surviving issues of pre-1939 local newspapers have been digitized and indexed, and the full issues can be searched and viewed on the library's local history website. Full issues of 1939-current newspapers are only available on microfilm or in-house digitized issues. Learn more about what newspapers are available here.
The Local History Collection includes several atlases and maps of Wilmette and surrounding areas. Bound volumes include a volume of Sanborn Insurance Maps of Chicago Volume J, Ownership index to Wilmette, Ownership index to Kenilworth, Chicago Zoning Maps, and an Official Atlas of New Trier Township. Individual maps include maps of Wilmette, Gross Point, Kenilworth, New Trier Township, and other local areas. Some maps have been digitized and are available on our Local History website. Other maps may be viewed in our Local History Room. Learn more about the maps that are available.
Obituaries from the local newspapers are indexed for the years 1898 - 1939 (many early issues are missing) and 1955 - present on the library’s local history site. In addition, obituaries can also be searched in the digitally scanned newspapers noted above. Learn more about what newspapers & obituaries are available here.
Our Local History Online Collection includes digitized photographs, maps, oral histories, telephone directories, and full issues of pre-1939 newspapers. You can also search our obituary index, indexed newspaper articles, and Vertical Files index. Visit our Local History Online Collection here.
The library has a collection of Oral Histories recorded around 1976. Transcriptions are available in the Local History Room and on our Local History website. Visit our Local History website to listen to the full interviews.
During the village's Sesquicentennial celebration in 2022, the library will be collecting new oral histories from residents and others with a connection to Wilmette. Learn more about the Voices of Wilmette Oral History Project.
The library has a small collection of historic photos, including photographs of houses and buildings, local events, people, and more. All photos are arranged by topic in binders in the Local History Room. A paper index is available of all identified photos.
Photographs may not be copied, but arrangements can be made to digitize a photograph for you. Many of the photographs in the library's local history collection have already been digitized, and can be viewed on our local history website.
New Trier High School
- Yearbooks 1926-2018 (a few years missing)
- Alumni directories, 1901-1992, 2006
- A History of New Trier High School, 1901-1981
- New Trier : portrait of an American high school, by Julie West Johnson
- Some New Trier Reflections, by Robert Alexander Harper
- New Trier West High School : Northfield, Illinois, 60093
- Miscellaneous newspaper clippings, reports, and more can be found in the NEW TRIER HIGH SCHOOL drawer of our Vertical Files.
An extensive collection of yearbooks, school newspapers, and other information about the school can be found in the New Trier Township High School Archives.
Other local schools
Miscellaneous information about other Wilmette schools, including the school district, early schools, and individual schools, can be found in our SCHOOLS drawer of our Vertical Files. Search our index of vertical files here.
All archival materials, except yearbooks, require an appointment in the Local History Room. Yearbooks can be retrieved by a librarian and viewed on the first floor anytime the library is open. Please ask a librarian for more details.
The Local History Room has a few published taxpayer lists for 1909, 1913, 1924, 1931-1936, organized in rough alphabetical order by name with address. Filed in Local History Room under TAXPAYERS in our Vertical Files. Search our index of vertical files here.
The Library maintains a collection of newspaper clippings, programs, letters, and other paper ephemera in our Vertical Files. The files are arranged by topic, such as architecture, movie theaters, Wilmette Park District, and Wilmette Harmony Convention.
Search our index of vertical files here. Note: Our Vertical Files are currently in the process of being indexed. Please contact the Local History Librarian if you don't find any entries for your topic in the index.
An issue of the Wilmette Life dated September 4, 1952 contains a list of all registered voters in the Village by precinct. A precinct map is included in the issue. This paper is kept in the Vertical Files under VOTERS. An earlier list also exists, the Men Voters Poll Book for the election held at the Village Hall of Gross Point, 15 April 1919. This second list is filed under ELECTIONS 1873-1929. Search our index of vertical files here.
The Village of Wilmette has a War Memorial that names Wilmette residents who have died in war. Information on Wilmette residents about those residents can be found in notebooks in the Local History Room. These volumes have been digitized and are available on the library's local history website.