The Village of Mount Prospect
Departments in the Village Government keep records that might be of interest to those doing local history research. All of the village departments can be contacted through the official Village web site at www.mountprospect.org. Below is a brief description of what the departments hold in publicly accessible files.
The Village Clerks office is the official record keeper for the Village of Mount Prospect. The Clerk keeps all of the minutes from official meetings of the Village government, Ordinances passed by the Village, Resolutions passed by the Village, and records of any other official action taken by the Village of Mount Prospect. The Clerk’s office has all of these records going back to 1917 when Mount Prospect was incorporated. If you were interested in looking into the history of the village during a specific time period, such as during World War II, a review of the Village Trustees minutes may be of some help. If you are interested in the effect of a large event on the community, such as the Blizzard of 1967, the Village records would also be an appropriate place to look. This material is probably best used by individuals who are familiar with using public records and are experienced researchers.
The Building Department provides permits for work done on buildings in Mount Prospect. If you were interested in researching the history of your house it would be reasonable to see if the Building department has any records that might help. The department has records that go back into the 1970s for projects within incorporated Mount Prospect. If there has been no work done on your house that would require a building permit since the early 1970s, they will not have any information on your house. However, if you are interested in knowing how a former owner remodeled or extended your house, it may be worth your while to contact the Building Department.
The Planning Department has files on major developments in the community, such as construction of office parks or significant changes to the infrastructure. They have plans for some of these developments, generally the more recent ones, and they have Microfiche of some building permits in the community. The Engineering Department also has plat maps of subdivisions within the community
Chicago is home to a number of excellent resources for local history. The Newberry Library has an extensive collection, with resources that include material for genealogical research, microfilm of national and Illinois Census data, and original documents on a number of subjects. The Chicago History Museum has an large collection of artifacts and material on the history of Chicago and the businesses, communities, and people that have created the Windy City. The Chicago Public Library has excellent online resources on the history of the city as well as a large collection of volumes on local history. The National Archives Great Lakes Branch has the entire collection of manuscript census data that has been released to the public, which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in genealogy or tracing the history of communities.
Cook County holds a number of great assets for those interested in local research. The Cook County Clerk’s office holds all of the records of births, deaths and marriages, or the vital statistics, of Mount Prospect. If you are interested in genealogy, these can be very helpful. The Cook County Assessor’s office keeps the records of property valuations, which includes basic information on the history of houses, location and boundaries. You can also get the Permanent Identification Number (PIN) for a property from the Assessor’s Office, which will help you with further investigations. For those interested in researching their homes, this may be a good first step.
Illinois has a number of state wide agencies that may be useful for some local history research. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Chicago History Museum provide on-line access to many newspapers through the Illinois Newspaper Project. The Illinois State Museum www.museum.state.il.us/ and the Illinois State Historical Society both have many resources that may be useful for those researching the historical context of a local history question.
Information on People
There are many good sources of information on individuals or families that have lived in the area. The first places to look are the Mount Prospect Historical Society and The Mount Prospect Public Library, both of whom maintain research files on many people. While at the Library, you may also want to check their collection of Mount Prospect Directories and Phone books, as this can give you an address, and a in some cases basic information. If neither of these organizations has information on the person you are looking for, you may want to extend your search to some of the larger organizations. The Cook County Clerk’s office holds all of the records of births, deaths and marriages, or the vital statistics, of Mount Prospect. This information may be a good place to start. The Federal and State censuses are another great source of information. However, Census material is not very easy to go through. If you have an address of where the person lived, it will be much easier to find them in the Census, as Census material is organized by Enumeration District, or neighborhood, not by name. In the interest of protecting individual’s privacy, the original manuscript census data, or the actual answers to questions given by individuals, is kept sealed for 72 years. This means that the most recent federal Census that you can access is the 1930 Census. The National Archives Great Lakes Branch has the entire collection of manuscript census data that has been released to the public, which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in genealogy or tracing the history of communities. The Newberry Library has an extensive collection, with many resources for genealogical research. They also keep microfilm of national and Illinois Census data.
Information on Buildings
If you are interested in researching your home or a building in the community there are a number of places you can look for information. Tracking down a complete history of a building can be time consuming, but these tips should get you started. The Mount Prospect Historical Society has files on around 250 buildings in the community, so it is a good place to call first. The Mount Prospect Historical Society also has information on almost all of the subdivisions within the community, this can give you an estimate of when your neighborhood was developed and who was the developer. If you want to extend the search from what the Society holds, you can try the Village of Mount Prospect www.mountprospect.org. The Building Department has records that go back into the 1970s for projects within incorporated Mount Prospect. If there has been no work done on your house that would require a building permit since the early 1970s, they will not have any information on your house. If you have not been able to find anything within Mount Prospect, there are a couple of county agencies that you may want to contact. The Cook County Assessor’s office keeps the records of property valuations, which includes basic information on the history of houses, location and boundaries. You can also get the Permanent Identification Number (PIN) for a property from the Assessor’s Office, which will help you with further investigations. If you have your PIN you can contact the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office which will allow you to see information on title transfers and construction. This will give you at least a basic history of your building. There are also a couple of additional sources that can help you with the history of a building. The Chicago Historical Society has a large collection of fire insurance maps, these maps are dated and show the foot print of a building on a site. Different maps will also tell you additional things about the site, such as the material that a building is made out of or in some cases the owner of the building.
Information on Businesses
The Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Mount Prospect Public Library both have information on a number of businesses in the community. The Society has a large collection of information on the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce, including a complete set of Chamber Directories, which have listings, locations and often advertisements from many local businesses. The Library has a large collection of Mount Prospect Directories and phone books, which have addresses and some advertisements for businesses. If you are unable to find information at either of these sources, you may want to contact the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce and see if there is any information in their files on the Business. The Chicago Historical Society also has a large collection of directories and phone books that may be of some use in tracking down a business. You may also want to contact Cook County or the State of Illinois to look for records of incorporation, legal settlements, and tax information.
Administered by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Chicago History Museum