National Archives at Chicago

Historical Research

The National Archives at Chicago has more than 140,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from 1800 to the early 2000's, including textual records and non-textual records such as maps and photographs from Federal courts and some 85 Federal agencies in:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

Federal law requires that agencies transfer permanently valuable, noncurrent records to the National Archives.
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Research Our Records

The National Archives arranges its holdings according to the archival principal of provenance. Archival materials are therefore arranged by the governmental entity that created them into discrete units called Record Groups (RG).   Learn More

Records in our holdings include such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln, Al Capone, Jack Johnson, Enrico Fermi, Aaron Burr, Abbie Hoffman, Etta James, Preston Tucker, and Fred Hampton. Historical themes documented range from the early nineteenth century opening of Midwestern public lands to the development of space exploration technology.

The records cover a wide scope of topics including, but not limited to:

- African American History
- Chicago and Regional History
- Civil Rights Movement
- Depression Era
- Disasters
- Environmental History
- Espionage and Sedition
- Ethnic History
- Famous and Infamous Personalities
- Farming and Agriculture
- Film and Entertainment
- Fugitive Slaves
- Immigration and Naturalization
- Indian Affairs

- Infrastructure and Development
- Inventions and Patents
- Labor History
- Legal History
- Maritime History of Great Lakes and Inland Waterways
- Military History
- Military Intelligence
- National Parks and Forests
- Organized Crime
- Popular Culture
- Prohibition Era
- Science and Technology
- Sports
- Women's History
- World War I and II Home fronts

Microfilmed Records

In addition to unique original records, the Chicago facility has extensive holdings of National Archives microfilm publications.

The publications reproduce basic documentation for the study of history, economics, public administration, political science, law, ethnology, genealogy, and other subjects.   Learn More

The bulk of the collection is the Federal population census schedules from 1790-1930 for all States. These holdings are complemented by microfilm rolls relating to:

  • 54th Massachusetts Infantry (from the film Glory)
  • 1864 Massacre of Cheyenne Indians at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory
  • Appellate Case Files of Brown v. Board of Education
  • Captured World War II German Records
  • Civil War Prisoner of War Camps
  • Development of the Atomic Bomb
  • Diplomatic and Consular Affairs
  • East St. Louis, Illinois Race Riots, 1917
  • FBI Investigative Case Files (1908-1922)
  • FBI, Kent State University Investigation
  • Flight 19 Bermuda Triangle
  • Freedman's Bureau
  • Investigation and Trial Papers relating to the Assassination of President Lincoln
  • Letters of Application and Recommendations During Presidential Administrations
  • Maritime History
  • Military Intelligence relating to "Negro Subversion" 1917-1941
  • Native Americans
  • Northwest Territory
  • Nuremberg War Crime Trials
  • Records of the Continental Congress
  • Records relating the Military Service of Ulysses S. Grant
  • Revolutionary War Service and Pension
  • Selected 19th Century African Americans Awarded the Medal of Honor
  • Selected Court Cases argued by Abraham Lincoln
  • Selective Service System
  • Slave Ship Amistad
  • Southern Claims Commission
  • Sultana Disaster, April 27, 1865
  • Territorial Papers of the United States
  • Trial of Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett
  • United States Customs Department Ship's Passenger Arrival
  • United States Postal Service, 1832-1971
  • United States Supreme Court, 1790-1950