Elgin History Museum





Please note these sites, except for the Courier News Photo Archive, are maintained by the owners of the site and not maintained by the Elgin History Museum.

If you are interested in setting up a research appointment please call the museum at 847-742-4248 or email museum@elginhistory.org with your inquiry. Please note that research and any copies will incur a fee.

Courier News Photo Index

Housed at the Elgin History Museum is an archive of photos (and sometimes the accompanying article) that were published in the Courier News from 1936 – 1986. The Museum has had help from MANY volunteers who have been working MANY years on getting the images scanned and the information digitized – and it is still ongoing.

How do I find a person or subject using this database?

Go to the Courier News Photo Index, which is a text based search engine. From there, type in a name, place or subject that you are looking for. A listing of any indexed article will appear. To see if the image has been placed in our online database, go to the Museum’s photo database and search for the 5-digit number in the “Req.” column. If nothing comes up in the search, you can still see the images in person at the Museum. Make an appointment by calling 847-742-4248, or email with the number/s you are looking for. Please note that if you want digital copies of unwatermarked images, that will incur a fee depending on usage.

Historic Homes & Architecture

Historic Elgin – Created by the Elgin Heritage Commission, historicelgin.com is an interactive map of Elgin that shows photos and the history of every house that has been awarded a Heritage Plaque. City Landmarks are also noted on the map.

elginbungalows.com – A colorful and picture rich site dedicated to Bungalow homes in Elgin.

Gail Borden Public Library – Tips for how to research a house in Kane County. Links to newspapers, directories, and more.


Elgin Genealogical Society – This website is a first stop resource if looking up information about your family roots in the Elgin and how to contact a researcher to help you. Email them directly at elgingenealogy@gmail.com or visit their page on Facebook.


Gail Borden Public Library Collections on Illinois Digital Archives – 

Illinois Digital Archives – A repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library as well as other libraries and cultural institutions in the State of Illinois. View the Elgin History Museum Gylleck Photo Collection or the Elgin American Collection. Elgin American became famous for producing women’s compacts, cigarette lighters and makeup vanities. This collection includes company newsletters, catalogs, and photographs from the 1940s and 1950s.

Courier News and Daily Herald Archives – This database website, maintained by Gail Borden Library, is a way to look up newspaper articles of Courier News and Daily Herald newspapers collected by various years based on author, title and subject. To access an article copy please contact Gail Borden Library. This database also includes the Vital Records Surname (i.e., last name) search which provides a way to find obituaries, birth notices, and marriage announcements listed in Elgin newspapers from July 1, 2002 to date with additional records for newspapers that were published prior to 1915 being entered as time permits.

Catherine and Thorton Thompson Civil War Letters – This blog, maintained by Ken Gough, Elgin Civil War historian, transcribed all 120 letters of Catherine Thompson to her husband Thorton, 1st Lieut. of the 79th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. These copied transcripts will be available to researchers in early 2017 through the Elgin History Museum.

Autolist – An online resource helping those research older, classic cars. Be sure to visit us each year for our Annual Classic Car Show.

Illinois Historic Group Directory – The Northern Illinois Historic League promotes projects and activities that promote local and regional history with its substantial network of historians, colleagues and experts from Illinois and other locations.

BeHistoric You Tube channel – The first series of videos retraces the original lines of the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin railway, visiting all of the former stations/stops along the Illinois Prairie Path and the Fox River Trail. To date, there are videos for the Elgin, Aurora, Geneva, Batavia, and Main Line branches of the former CA&E railway.