"Life in Jewish Chicago" helps delve into
the lives of our ancestors in the Jewish communities of Chicago.
It is a guide to the historic institutions which our ancestors
participated in. As you locate materials, try to picture what life was
like. A history of the Jews of Chicago can be found on the website of
The following record types will aid you in painting
Jewish Newspapers &
Personal Collections &
The "Old" Neighborhood
|The best source
of information about the organizations, especially the landsmanshaften, is
Bridges to an
American City: A Guide to Chicago Landsmanshaften, 1870 to 1990. This book by
Sidney Sorkin contains a comprehensive directory of
Chicago groups including date founded, home country, officers, and
other information. Also included is an index of over 2600 individuals
mentioned in the book. The book is out of print
and can be found in the Skokie
Jewish Archives has collected information and records from many
organizations including such groups as:
|Akiba Schechter Jewish Day School
American Jewish Congress. Chicago Division Records, 1930-1986
American Woman's ORT, Chicago Region, 1966-1983
Chicago Home for Jewish Orphans
And many, many more, ...
For a current list go directly to the Chicago
Jewish Archives website.
Jewish Newspapers & Periodicals
|Over 500 different Jewish newspapers &
periodicals have been published here over the years. These publications
contain news of people active in the Jewish community. The
following periodicals are available at the Spertus
Institute of Jewish Study in the Asher Library.
|Advocate (later called
Reform Advocate) published in English from 1891-1946 was the
voice of Reform Jewry.
Daily Jewish Courier in Yiddish from before 1893 until
1944 was the voice of Orthodox Jewry.
Sentinel in English 1911-1996
Forward in Yiddish 1920-1953 was the voice of Socialist
and Secular Jews.
Other periodicals available include Israelitishe Presse
(first Yiddish publication 1877), Chicago Yiddish Tageblatt,
Daily Jewish Courier, Occident, The Jewish Advance, The
Maccabean, The Chicago Jewish Forum,
and The Jewish Way.
For complete details you can browse the online catalog of:
Institute of Jewish Study
|The most comprehensive
collection of synagogue records is housed at the Chicago
Jewish Archives. Their collection included over 120 synagogues with
each collection varying from one folder to over 20 boxes of materials.
Below you will see the start of the list of synagogues included. Please
consult the website and call their office if you are looking for a
Adas Shalom (Dempster)
(Cong.) Adas Jeshurun
Agudath-Achim Bikur Cholim
Agudas Achim North Shore (First Hungarian Cong.)
Agudath Jacob (Evanston)
Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living (Highland Park)
Albany Park Hebrew Congreg.
Am Echad (Park Forest)
Am Echod (E. 83rd St.)
Am Echod (Waukegan)
(Cong. ) Am Shalom (Glencoe)
|There is a collection of 526
from Sinai Congregation which is posted on Jewishgen at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/USA/sinai.htm.
These records are from 1861-1905.
If the synagogue is still operating it is always a good
idea to just call them and see what they have in their own archives. You
might also ask them to check their memorial boards to see if any plaques
were dedicated for your ancestors.
Personal Collections & Oral Histories
|The best set of personal collections and
oral histories can be found at the Chicago
Jewish Archives. It is best to first browse their website to see if
there is something that might pertain to your family.
The "Old" Neighborhood
|Many books have been written about the
history of the Jews of Chicago. The two most important books are:
Meites, H.L.. History of the Jews of Chicago. (Reprinted
1990, originally published in 1924 by Jewish Historical Society of
Cutler, Irving. The Jews of Chicago: From
Shtetl to Suburb. (University of Illinois Press, 1996)
The Meites book has been reprinted by the Chicago
Jewish Historical Society and can purchased directly from
them. The Cutler book is available at the Spertus
book store as well as other book stores.
For a complete listing of books about the history of Jewish Chicago see
the Reference Materials
on this website.
Every year tours of Jewish Chicago are run by Dawn
Schuman Institute and also the Chicago
Jewish Historical Society.