The Edgewater Glen Storefront History Project
The Edgewater Historical Society is conducting a huge project to record the history of all the storefronts in Edgewater. With your help, we thought it would be fun to try to gather information about all our Edgewater Glen storefronts to share with the neighbors here.
If you, or anyone in your family, is interested in helping research our neighborhood history we’ve included instructions & downloadable forms for recording the information below.
You can email any interesting things you discover to us. We will post it here for the neighbors and pass it along to our friends over at the historical society: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding Storefront Information Using the Chicago Tribune Digital Archives
The archives are available on line and can be accessed from any computer; however, you will need a current Chicago Public library card. Note: access will be blocked if you owe any fines and have not paid them.
What you want to do
The goal to find evidence of every business that occupied a storefront and when it opened and when it closed. That’s the goal, but it is not one that is likely to be achieved for most storefront addresses. Not all businesses advertised in the Chicago Tribune and even when a business did it was rare that it gave it’s opening date or its last day. What is hoped for is an approximation.
It is not necessary to record every time there is a reference for a given business at the same address. What you want to record is the first reference and the last. To avoid unnecessary searching, it is suggested that you look on our website for the information we already have for the addresses that you have agreed to search and that you print it out for the range of address you have agreed to search.
Go to “local history,” then “businesses.” then “storefronts.” Go the street you want and highlight the addresses you have agreed to search. (Note: if you agreed to do only one side, you still need to select the full range). After you have highlighted the range of addresses, right click to “copy.” After you have done this, open a blank word document and the paste the highlighted material into it. Save it to a document you name; then print it out so you will have it next to you as you do your searches.
Let’s say you have agreed to search 5200 to 5240 Clark. Suppose our website material shows just two citations for 5202 Clark, one for the ABC hardware dated 3-5-1925 and another for ABC hardware dated 10-6-1932. Now you know you can skip any Chicago Tribune item between these two dates. Let’s say there were four citations: the above two plus one for Jake’s Restaurant dated 5-4-1940 and other for Jake’s Restaurant dated 9-1-1945. You can again skip responses between these second two dates; but you will want to check out the items between 10-7-1932 and 5-4-1940, as well as before 3-3-1925 and after 9-1-1945.
Getting to where you can begin searching
The best way to get to the Chicago Public Library website and find the page you want is surprisingly to google “Chicago Public Library.” The first official site will show below the official website address several options. Click “”OnLine Resources then A-Z Resources.”
If you enter the web address for the Chicago Public Library (chipublib.org), you need to go through a number of steps to find “A-Z Resources.”
Once you find “A-Z Resources” and you open that page, you will get a page with letters A to Z. Click on “C”; then scroll down to find Chicago Tribune. The Tribune archives are divided into two groups: the historical and the current. The historical is from the beginning of the newspaper through 1985, though sometimes it is through 1990; the current is from 1986 through the present. Start with the historical archives. When you click on this group, you will be asked for your library card number and your zip code. If you are using your own computer, check “Remember me on this computer.” Doing this will eliminate your having to enter your library card each time you come back to do a search. You will still have to enter your ZIP code each time however.
The page that comes up offers you a regular or advanced search. Select the advanced search. When you do this, you will get a page that offers three search lines. You will notice that the second and third, lines have an “AND” preceding them. Change lines two and three to “OR.”
Let’s say that you want to search for “5402 Clark” Enter “5402 Clark” on the first line; “5402 N. Clark” on the second line, and “5402 North Clark.” on the third. Be sure that each is in quotes; otherwise you will get additional items that are not responsive to your request, such as a page that includes “Clark” and “5402” but not necessarily “5402 Clark.”
The search page gives you the option of selecting the order in which the items responsive to your appear. Select “Oldest First” and then click on that option. That option is to the right.
The search page also gives you the option of limiting the search to items before a specific date, or after a specific date or between two specific dates. For your first search of an address ignore this selection. But suppose for example, you don’t have enough time to do a search of a specific address from beginning to end. Then this feature comes in handy. When you come back to the website you can just select only those responses after the date of your last one, and won’t have to go back to the first response and scroll to where you left off.
What Types of Responses are You Likely to Get
The responses fall into four general categories:
Classified Ads are the most difficult to search. What you will get is a full page of ads. Unfortunately, the wording of your search is not highlighted in yellow or some other color. Hence you will have to check hundreds of ads on the page to find the one responsive to your search. What you will get when the page first appears is many ads in very, very small print. However, since all the pages responsive to searches are PDFs you can increase the magnification. Go to the top and where is shows a percentage, such as 100% and then scroll down to increase the number to a higher percentage. You will then be able to read the print more easily. Because of the tediousness and length of time it takes to review a classified ad page, it is best to just ignore these, except in special circumstances. Suppose that the first item responsive to your search s a classified ad dated January 12, 1931 and then you find a display ad dated November 10, 1931. In this case it would not be necessary to go back and look at the classified ad because it is likely that the business identified in the classified ad is the same as the one in the display ad. However., suppose the next display ad was March 10, 1950, then it would be good to go back to that first classified as the business in the display ad is probably not the same business that appeared in the 1950 display ad.
Display ads are probably the best sources to find storefront businesses. Sometimes the display ad is just for the business at the address of your search. Other times it is an ad produced by some company that is advertising a product and the ad lists all the places where one can buy the product. This often represents a bonus as it may well include other Edgewater businesses in addition to the one responsive to your search. Write down these other businesses as well. Helpful hint: When you open a display ad, go to the top and reduce the magnification so you can see the entire page and you can determine where on the page the ad you want is located. Once you do that, increase the magnification so you can better read the print.
General Stories are also often helpful. For commercial addresses they usually relate to some event that took place at the address. Often is it a crime—a robbery or a shooting or some white collar theft. The heading of the story that appears on the page can be misleading. It is the heading for the first item in a group of stories; the first story may not be the one that is responsive to your search. You have to read all the articles on the page.
Obituaries. Unless the storefront address of your search is a funeral parlor, the address is that of a place of business owned by one of the deceased or (less likely) where one of the deceased worked. Again, unfortunately, you will have to read through all of the obituaries to find the one responsive to your search.
Recording the information
You have two options. You can record the information by hand; or you can record it on line as you find it. If you want to record it by hand use the word document the historical society has provided; it is formatted as a table. You will need to print it out—several copies; or you can make copies if your machine also is a copy machine. Ideally, you should print rather than handwrite the name of the business. Unless the type of business is obvious you can skip making an entry in the type of business column. Don’t forget to record the date.
If you want to record the information on line, you can use the excel spreadsheet provided. This option is preferable from the historical society’s standpoint, as then all they have to do is merge your spreadsheet into theirs, as opposed to typing in the data that you found. If you use the spreadsheet, for the address number you will need to enter the number twice if the address is but one number, e.g. 5202-5202. If the storefront has two or more digits enter the first and the last, e.g. 5202-5204. Also, record the date of the Chicago Tribune item in the column “Survey D.” You can skip the other columns to the right of “Survey D.” If you use the spreadsheet, use the save button periodically, to minimize the possibility of losing data.