Beverly-Morgan Park Collection
Scope and Contents
The Beverly-Morgan Park Collection contains range of manuscript, printed and photographic materials on the development of these adjacent community areas in southwestern Chicago. The documentation includes information on businesses, clubs and organizations, municipal agencies, parks, religious institutions, residences, schools and transportation.
Of note is the wide range of content that related to the Village of Morgan Park from its incorporation in 1892 until its annexation to the City of Chicago in 1914. The documentation includes broadsides, election materials, legal papers, news clippings, photographs and trustees’ reports. The bulk of the village and annexation material can be found in the subseries of Series 5: Historical Sketches, but as an issue that permeated all aspects of civic life in Morgan Park, some documentation can be found within by topic, such as Schools. The photographic views taken from 1889 publication, Views of Morgan Park, were taken before annexation and listed by topical area. The viewbook photographs were numbered based on the pencil notations on the lower right corner of each page from 1-32. Pages and possibly photographs for the numbers 3, 8, 12, 13 and 18 are missing. It is likely that the panorama views numbered as Photographs 33-37 were originally at the beginning of the view book. These pages were removed from the binding at an unknown time.
- Creation: 1874-2010, undated
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Biographical / Historical
The Beverly-Morgan Park area is a former homeland of the Potawatomi peoples. In 1833, they ceded their land rights to this area to the United States government. In 1839, John Blackstone purchased 300 acres encompassing land known as the Ridge, a heavily wooded highland. Chicago and Fort Dearborn were accessible by an indigenous trail, also called the Vincennes Trail. Additional settlers were attracted to the region after the Rock Island Railroad built stations in 1852.
Morgan Park was named after Thomas Morgan who purchased most of Blackstone’s land in 1844. After the Civil War, his children sold the land to the Blue Island Building and Land Company. In 1869, the company first platted the subdivision of Washington Heights, an area that includes most of the Morgan Park and Beverly communities. In the 1870s, the Morgan Park Military Academy (1873), the Chicago Female College (1875) and the Baptist Theological Seminary (1877) were founded. The Morgan Park Library, now the George C. Walker Branch of the Chicago Public Library, was established in 1893. In 1882, when the Village of Morgan Park was incorporated, the area was serviced by 46 Rock Island trains daily. From the 1890s to the early 1900s, transportation was expanded to surface lines on several main streets.
Adjacent to Morgan Park is the community of Beverly, or Beverly Hills. Located 12 miles south of the Loop, the area is considered part of the Blue Island Ridge. As the area was settled, single family houses predominated with more elaborate homes on the Ridge west of Longwood Drive and apartment buildings near the Rock Island Railroad tracks. With the nearby Dan Ryan Woods, Beverly and Ridge Country Clubs and Ridge Park, the area long resembled a suburban setting. Large sections of Beverly south of 99th and west of Western were undeveloped prairie until the 1940s.
In 1890, part of Beverly was annexed to Chicago and part to the Village of Washington Heights. The Village of Morgan Park was annexed to the City of Chicago in 1914 following a protracted fight amongst the citizenry. Organizations were formed to represent and lobby for both sides and were known as either “Annexationists” or “Home Rulers.”
Early settlers in Beverly-Morgan Park were mainly Protestants of English, Irish, Swedish and German descent. Despite a building boom between 1910 and 1930, the community did not permit the construction of factories or saloons near the Ridge. In the 1920s, Catholics began to settle in this predominantly Protestant community, and by 1936 there were two Catholic parishes. African Americans began settling near the Rock Island Railroad line east of Vincennes Road in 1915. In 1921, the Chicago Commission on Race Relations maintained that Blacks and whites in Morgan Park had cordial relations but that African American residences were limited to the area east of Vincennes Road.
The post-WWII building boom brought a great increase in population. In 1947, the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) was founded. In the decades to come, BAPA fought panic peddling by unethical real estate agents and promoted the area’s historical significance. The Ridge Historical Society, founded in 1971, worked to increase awareness of the neighborhood’s numerous landmark buildings. In the 1980s and 1990s, several significant houses and regions of Beverly-Morgan Park were designated as landmarks, including the Givins Irish Castle and Longwood Drive District.
21 Linear Feet (in 25 boxes, includes 148 photographs, 4 oversize folders)
Language of Materials
The Beverly-Morgan Park Collection contains range of manuscript, printed and photographic materials on the development of these adjacent community areas in southwestern Chicago. The documentation includes information on businesses, clubs and organizations, municipal agencies, parks, religious institutions, residences, schools, transportation, and the Village of Morgan Park from its incorporation in 1892 until its annexation to the City of Chicago in 1914.
The Beverly-Morgan Park Collection is arranged into 11 series based on topic:
Series 1: Biographical Data, 1952-1987
Series 2: Business Establishments, 1884-1992, undated
Series 3: Clubs and Organizations, 1894-2010, undated
Series 4: Historical Sketches, 1874-2002, undated
Series 5: Municipal Agencies, 1890-1998, undated
Series 6: Parks, 1896-circa 1980, undated
Series 7: Religious Institutions, circa 1870s-1986, undated
Series 8: Residences, circa 1899-1997, undated
Series 9: Schools, 1877-1987, undated
Series 10: Street Scenes, 1889, undated
Series 11: Transportation, 1894-1986
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Transferred from the Chicago Public Library, Walker Branch in 2006. The Morgan Park Academy Library accession book of 1892 was transferred from a collection of miscellaneous theater programs. Other materials continue to be added through transfer and donation.
The following photographs and images were removed to other collections.
Back of the Yards Community Collection:
Aerial view of the stockyards, circa 1890s Chicago City-Wide Collection:
Aerial view, [looking northwest] from light house [at Chicago River?], circa 1890s
Aerial view, [looking west] from Auditorium Tower, circa 1890s
Auditorium Building, exterior, circa 1890s
Auditorium Building, foyer, interior, circa 1890s
Auditorium Theater, interior, circa 1890s
Circus Day, aerial view [Loop, possibly Madison Street], circa 1890s
Lake Michigan, breakwater, circa 1890s
Libby Prison War Museum, exterior, circa 1890s
Lincoln Park, The Alarm, sculpture by John J. Boyle, circa 1890s
Lincoln Park, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller monument by Ernst Rau, circa 1890s
Palmer House, exterior, circa 1890s
Potter Palmer residence, exterior, circa 1890s East Garfield Park Community Collection:
Garfield Park lagoon, boaters, policeman, circa 1890s
West [Near West] Side Community Collection:
Haymarket Square, Market Day, circa 1890s
Woodlawn Community Collection:
Washington Park Race Track, Derby Day, circa 1890s
- Chicago Public Library. Walker Branch (Organization)
- Beverly Hills (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Beverly Area Planning Association (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- John H. Vanderpoel Art Association (Organization)
- Morgan Park High School (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Morgan Park Military Academy (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Morgan Park Women’s Club (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Mount Greenwood (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Ridge Historical Society (Chicago, Ill.) (Organization)
- Guide to the Beverly-Morgan Park Collection
- Lorna Doneley, 2009 February. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Michelle McCoy, 2022.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository
Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States