Check Out 1898 – 1912 Chicago Building Permits List At

Hi Everyone!

Bob K., one of our participants at our monthly genealogy programs, made me aware of a nice “tool” available from the website. is a nice database created by the Newberry Library.

If you have any Chicago ancestral connections, you will definitely want to visit and use the ChicagoAncestors website that you can access at the following link:

Bob K. specifically steered me to a database at the site that covers 1898-1912 Building Permits for the City of Chicago that can be found under the “Tools” link of the website.  Look for the “Architecture and Buildings History” link under the Tools.  The database does not provide you with copies of any building permits or images, but does provide you with the ability to search the database by the name of an owner of a building that obtained a building permit during the 1898-1912 time period.

The database basically provides information on:

  • Owner’s Name
  • Street Address
  • Architect’s Name
  • Date of Issue (I think this is the Date of Issue of the Journal, not Date of Issue of the Permit?  This is unclear to me)
  • Page Number Where Found in Journal

The database also allows you to search by the name of an architect involved in the process (like for building a new building) or by street name to see what building had permits issued on a certain date along a certain street.

The data was obtained from a journal geared towards architects and contractors titled American Contractor.

Bob K. actually had an ancestor that was an architect who turned out to be the architect used by my grandfather when he had a 3 flat built in Chicago in 1906!

As they say, “Small World”!

So if you have any Chicago ancestral connection this is a nice database to play with and see if any ancestors living in Chicago at this time may have needed a building permit.

One thing to be aware of when using this database is that the time period covered is right at the time period when Chicago underwent a complete and total street numbering change in 1909.  An address you know now may not be the address known then, but it will turn out to be same building once you account for the 1909 Chicago street number change!  Your ancestor did not move in this case, the street number changed.

My own grandfather’s entry in this database shows a different address than I knew personally the location to be.  That is because the permit was issued in 1906 prior to the street number change, but I know for a fact the building was the one I grew up in  with a different address than the permit shows!

You can look at this neat database at the following location:

1898 – 1912 Chicago Building Permit Index List from the “American Contractor”

You may be pleasantly surprised as to what you might uncover in this database for any of your Chicago ancestors during this time period involved.

Thanks again to Bob K. for making me aware of this database and for making me aware that although we are not blood related (yet!)  that we have through our own grandparents a connection back to 1906!

Check out this database and all that exists under the umbrella of the ChicagoAncestors. org website for researching your Chicago ancestors by accessing the links above.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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