Researching Chicago: From Pilsen to Pigeons

Hi! I am trying to find sources on Chicago accents and dialects for my linguistics class.

I am making a film project about the neighborhood of Pilsen in Chicago and looking for archival images from the 1960’s – 1980’s, especially of the protests and activism happening during that time.

Hello! I’ve been trying to find information about pigeons in Chicago for a paper, but I don’t get many results.

Hi, I was wondering if you could help me locate the employment rate for the North Lawndale community area in Chicago?

I’m trying to conduct some research about domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic within Chicago, would you be willing to help?

These are just a few of the questions and topics that have come across the Research Help Desk this quarter. If you are one of the many students researching a Chicago-related topic, read on to learn about the resources and tools available at the DePaul University Library that will help you find the information you need. From newspapers to e-books, article databases, and primary sources, we have the resources you need to research Chicago’s history, people and neighborhoods.

photo courtesy of Mark Jemerson

Where to start?

To get started, take a look at our Chicago Research Guide. The Key Resources page points you to a few of our most useful resources like the Encyclopedia of Chicago for background information and databases for searching historic Chicago newspapers. Along the side, click through tabs for other kinds of information such as statistics and data or primary sources, as well as tabs for researching specific subjects like music, politics, or business in Chicago.

The Chicago Collection

Located on the first floor of the John T. Richardson Library, the Chicago Collection is a curated section of books on Chicagoland history, politics, art, architecture, sociology, and a wide range of other topics. You’ll find books like:

Stop by in person or browse the Chicago Collection online to find a variety of books to support your research or spark your interest in a new topic. Books in the Chicago Collection can now be checked out by DePaul students, faculty and staff.

Current and Historic Newspapers

Looking for a recent article from the Chicago Tribune? Or do you need to search the archives of the Chicago Defender? Avoid paywalls by using Library databases for both current and historic newspapers. Our subscriptions include the Chicago Tribune Current Content; the Chicago Tribune Historical Content; the Chicago Defender Historical Edition; and the Chicago Sun-Times. Databases like Access World News and US Newsstream provide additional coverage for current Chicagoland and Illinois news stories.

And That’s Not All!

You may also be looking for primary sources to further your research, such as maps, photos, and letters. Librarians can recommend primary source collections that are relevant to Chicago-related topics like HistoryMakers Digital Archive for oral history interviews with historically significant African Americans; North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories; or Sanborn Insurance Maps that can be used to explore urban development in Chicago from the 1880s to the mid twentieth century.

Young Lords newspaper
Young Lords Newspaper vol 1 no 2, DePaul Special Collections and Archives

Our own Special Collections and Archives includes rich primary source materials on the history of Chicago and the Lincoln Park neighborhood, as well as on DePaul’s institutional history, campus life, and the legacy of faculty, staff and students. Digital Collections provide access to digitized runs of DePaul student newspapers and yearbooks, photographs and images of DePaul buildings from 1898 to the present, newspapers and other publications documenting the Young Lords in Chicago, Lincoln Park architectural photographs, and much more. To find out what might be relevant to your topic, search or browse across DePaul’s archival collections.

For access to even more primary sources, try Explore Chicago Collections, an online tool for locating archival collections and digital images held by members of the Chicago Collections Consortium, including DePaul. Be sure to take a look at outstanding digital exhibits on topics like The 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott and Race Riots and Chicago in 1919.

Still can’t find what you need? Join the many other DePaul students, faculty and staff who have asked us for help with their Chicago-related research! Use our Ask a Librarian service to chat online or schedule an in-person or zoom research consultation. You can always stop by the Research Help Desk at the Loop or John T. Richardson Library to talk more.

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