Evanston Property History Resources

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The University Archives has collections of records and listings available for researching the history of Evanston properties. Many of these note properties with a block/lot number system, which corresponds to our interactive map of Evanston.

Land Books

  • Five books detailing the University's real estate holdings and transactions from 1856 to 1942. The school owned a significant part of Evanston during these years, so much of the city is covered by this records. These include maps of blocks divided into numbered lots, corresponding with the numbering on the Theodore Reese map, with a history of each lots use, sales, ownership on the facing page. Properties are located in Chicago, Wilmette, and Wisconsin in addition to Evanston. For more information, see the inventory to this collection  and an example of the land book records.

Evanston City Directories

  • An extensive, though incomplete, collection of directories ranging from 1879 into the 1960s. Residents are listed along address and, usually, occupation. Many contain a reverse-directory organized by street. These directories are available both in the Archives and online, at the Internet Archive.

Northwestern University Property Abstracts

  • Legal abstracts of titles for property owned by Northwestern through the 1920s. Abstracts of different dates relating to the same property are collected. Most are identified by block and lot numbers corresponding to the Theodore Reese Evanston city map. These abstracts contain: dimensions of the plot, complete record of conveyances, and, in most cases, a map showing its location in the city block.

Northwestern Real Estate Transactions

  • Records relating to University real estate transactions. These contain land deeds, warranty deeds, waivers of reversion, title abstracts, and sales contracts spanning from 1897 to 1942, mostly consisting of records from the 1920s and 1930s. Also included are assessment bills, special assessments, and tax receipts from 1917 to 1941.

Cancelled Leases

  • Cancelled leases on property owned by Northwestern, grouped by property and arranged numerically in order of property real estate number.

The Evanston History Center

  • The Historical Society at the Evanston History Center has additional resources that may be useful while researching property history. Visit their website for more information.

Online Illinois Maps

  • Northwestern University Library has a collection of online maps of Illinois, Cook County, Chicago, and Evanston that can be found on its website.