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Research & Explore

Ask the Historian

"What was the name of the store at the corner of Harlem and Lake in the 1950s?"  
"Where were the old stagecoach inns in Oak Park and River Forest?"
"When was the Scoville Square Building built?"
Do you have a quick question about Oak Park or River Forest history?
Submit your question online and we'll try our best to satisfy your curiosity with an email answer.
(For more complex questions or in-depth research, please visit our Research at the Museum page.)

Hometown Legends

Our Hometown Legends pages present some of the fascinating people who called Oak Park and River Forest home and their contributions to society. From architects, artists, and writers to entrepreneurs, scientists, and social activists, their individual stories of innovation, creativity, and perserverance are remarkable and inspiring.

Explore local history online

Read brief histories of Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Home Cemetery-- the final resting place of so many residents of our villages. Learn about the legendary Philander Barclay and the Barclay Collection of the Oak Park River Forest Museum. And then visit our photo store where you can browse through examples of Barclay's photos as well as hundreds of other photos from our villages' past.

Research at the museum 

Whether you want to learn about the history of your house or your family, or you are studying the history of a person, place, or event from our villages' history, the Fields Research Center at the Oak Park River Forest Museum is a remarkable resource for your research. Our extensive collection of newspapers, directories, archives and manuscripts, photographs, architectural drawings, ephemera, and other materials makes the Fields Research Center an indespensable asset to homeowners, genealogists, reporters, government officials, authors, students of all ages, business owners, or anyone studying the history of Oak Park and River Forest.