Today’s list is for sites hosting free Chicago city directories online.
Please note: This list is meant to include resources in addition to the ones found at commercial genealogical sites like FamilySearch, Ancestry, Fold3, and the like. And the lists are by no means exhaustive, so if you know of other digital collections on Chicago and Illinois that you’ve found useful in your research, please let me know.
Chicago History Museum
The 1928 Reverse Directory is available on-line from the Chicago Historical Society. This one works a bit differently by making sections available by alphabet for download. Adobe Reader is required to read the downloaded PDFs. Especially helpful because spouses’ names are included in many cases.
Chicago Ancestors (The Newberry Library)
Archive.org – Chicago Blue Books, Social Registers, Business Directories
Don’s List – Chicago City Directories and Blue Books
Chicago Jewish Community Blue Book 1918
Directory of the City of Chicago Illinois for 1843, Compiled By Robert Fergus, Printer, A Resident of Chicago since July 1, 1839. Chicago: Fergus Printing Company, 1896.
Only genealogists can really appreciate this introduction:
The basis for this work was Chicago’s first Directory of 1844, printed and published by Ellis & Fergus, from a careless and indifferent canvass made during 1843-August to December, by James W. Norris, and issued in December of that year.
One of the publishers, William Ellis who did the presswork of that volume, has been dead several years; the other is still here, and as he set the type, he knows how much he did for it and how much worse it would have been had he followed copy; but having been here over four years, he was somewhat acquainted with the business people in and about the business centre and in the vicinity of his home; the others-newcomers and those outside of the central part-he could do nothing for; and, as he later discovered, sailors were made tailors, and tailors sailors, names were spelled at and locations guessed, etc.; in fact, the names of many prominent men were entirely omitted, or as inserted might as well have been, as those for whom they were intended could not recognize them.
Some of the dates of death, as herein given, have been found to conflict with those of interested parties and relatives; but so far, in every instance, on investigation they have been found to be correct. The identity of the dates of many of those known to be dead has been difficult, and several instances have occurred where more than one date applies to the same name, and until identified will not be inserted.
Miriam Robbins Midkiff’s Bibliography of Chicago City Directories includes both paid and free sites:
https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa/il/cook © Miriam Robbins Midkiff, 2009-2010
Cynthia’s Guide to Chicago City Directories and Street Guides
For a list of other posts on Chicago genealogy resources, click here.