Free Chicago City Directories Online

Today’s list is about sites that host free Chicago city directories online.

For links to other free Chicago resources, click here.

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.

Distant Cousin [offline as of Aug 2016]


Chicago Ancestors (The Newberry Library) – Chicago Blue Books, Social Registers, Business Directories

Don’s List – Chicago City Directories and Blue Books

Chicago City Directories 1844186618671869187018711873

Reverse Directory of the Elite of Chicago 1875 1880 1883

Blue Books 18851890-1915

Lakeside City Directories 1892189619001913

Chicago Jewish Community Blue Book 1918

Genealogy Trails

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.

Other Internet Resources for Free Chicago City Directories Online

Know about other free Chicago city directories online
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About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”


  1. Heather Kuhn Roelker 15 March 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Thank you for sharing these links. I was able to find my ancestor during some years between what is available on the “big” sites. Thanks!

  2. Sassy Jane Genealogy 15 March 2011 at 4:19 PM

    I’m so glad the links are helpful. Those city directories around 1890 were invaluable for tracking my immigrant ancestors.

    Stay tuned – I’ll be putting up more Chicago resources soon.

  3. Annette 19 March 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Thanks very so much for posting these links! I found my great-grandfather in 1910! Couldn’t find him on the 1910 Census will use the address to see if I can find the family now :).

  4. Sassy Jane Genealogy 19 March 2011 at 3:42 PM

    That’s great, Annette. Getting into the census by address is tricky, but can be done.

  5. Design & Promote 28 July 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Thanks for taking the time to put together so many good Chicago web resources.

Comments are closed.