23 November 2007

Chicago: Newberry Library interactive site

Looking for your Chicago ancestors?

The Newberry Library has announced a new resource to make it easier. I haven't had a chance yet to check it out, but here's the release:

The Newberry Library announced today a new interactive, map-based Web site for genealogists and Chicago historians - ChicagoAncestors.org. Developed by staff from the Local and Family History department at the Newberry, this online map makes searching and sharing historical information easier than before.

"There is a huge amount of local historical information about Chicago in books and on the Internet," said Jack Simpson, co-director of the project and curator of local and family history at the Newberry Library. "We're trying to help researchers find that data by allowing them to search by proximity of a particular address or intersection."

Data on the map includes historical church locations, neighborhood bibliographies and historical homicides. The site links to resources on the Internet, including historical photographs of Chicago. The Web site also allows visitors to research the history of a particular address or Chicago neighborhood and identify Newberry Library resources along with relevant educational institutions and places of worship. By creating a saved profile, users can share their research with other family members or fellow researchers. Registered users of the Web site can add comments to map points, or map their own historical and genealogical information.

"We hope that researchers use the site not only to find information, but also to share their expertise," said project co-director and Reference Librarian Ginger Frere. "Researchers have begun contributing their own information about schools, churches, and other institutions.

She added, "There is growing interest in how maps and idea of mapping online can be used in current research."

The Chicago Technology Cooperative created the technical design of the website. Built on open-source software, the project created a template for use by other communities for local historical mapping.

The Illinois State Library (ISL), a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, awarded the initial funding for ChicagoAncestors.org, using funds provided by the Institute for Museum and Library Studies (IMLS), under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Additional funding for bibliographic elements of the project came from a Carnegie-Whitney Award from the American Library Association. The Chicago Genealogical Society also supported the project with a gift. Ongoing support for the project comes from the Newberry Library.

About the Newberry Library

The Newberry Library, a preeminent humanities research and reference institution, is home to a world-class collection of books, manuscripts, maps, music, and other printed materials related to the history and culture of Western Europe and the Americas. The collections span many centuries. The Newberry offers research fellowships for scholars, exhibits based on its collections, and a broad array of programs and activities. Visit us online at www.newberry.org and in person at 60 W. Walton Street, Chicago, IL 60610.

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