The Des Plaines History Center collects historic objects and archives partly to make them accessible for research purposes. We are the best place to look for historic information on local businesses, homes, farming, families, schools, churches, organizations, and government. Please read this information about performing research in our collections and check out online resources below.
Doing Research at the Des Plaines History Center
People interested in researching Des Plaines history may be granted access to our various collections. We maintain collections of research files compiled on people, events, businesses, organizations, schools, and government topics that are open for you to view.
Our permanent collections (archival and three-dimensional) contain many of the same categories as the research files. We keep them under controlled conditions for the sake of long-term preservation, but they too are intended for research. To view these materials, you must file a research request with History Center staff/volunteers. You may fill this out in person, phone it in, or send an email detailing your research. Based on your request, we will locate appropriate material, provide space for you to view it, and monitor your use. Staff and volunteers will guide your research and handling of museum collections. We recommend that you bring a pencil and notepad, computer, and/or digital camera (with the flash turned off) during your research appointment. Photocopies and digital reproduction of materials are permitted only for research purposes. Reproduction for publication or commercial use requires a special request to the History Center due to copyright protocol.
There are fees for access to collections, photocopies, digital reproduction, and license to publish. All money collected through these fees is used in the long-term preservation of the collections, not staff salaries or general operations. Scroll to the bottom of this page for the current fee schedule.
Interested in doing research? Use the form below to ask a quick question, request information, or set up an appointment.
The History Center is in the process of creating and posting finding aids that detail our collections. In the mean time, contact History Center staff/volunteers to learn about our holdings.
Some of our collections may be useful to genealogists, but the Des Plaines History Center does not focus on genealogical collections or research. We strongly recommend you begin exploration into your genealogy by accessing resources at the Des Plaines Public Library. You can also begin your Illinois genealogy at the Illinois Regional Archives Depository system.
Des Plaines Memory, an online digital collection, is a collaboration between the Des Plaines Public Library and the Des Plaines History Center. You will find digital images made from photographs, local newspapers, telephone directories, diaries, and more. You may also contribute historic images you own but do not wish to give outright to the History Center.
Collections Services Fee Schedule, Effective October 19, 2017. many research services are free to members. click here to become a member.
Document or Photograph Reproduction Fees
- b&w photocopies, all sizes: $0.25 each page (free for members)
- color photocopies, all sizes: $1.00 each page (free for members)
- digital scan, 600 dpi: $5.00 per image (free for members)
- digital scan at custom resolution: $15.00 per image (free for members)
- digitization of audio/video media: $5.00 per item (free for members)
- Research Requests, 45 minutes free, $15/hour thereafter (free for members)
- In-person Research, $5 access fee (free for members)
- Image License Fee (use in publication/broadcast), $100 (both members & nonmembers)