Park Forest's fascinating and unusual history is preserved in the Park Forest Historical Society's irreplaceable Local History Collection and Archive. It is of interest to the community, former residents, scholars, school children, city planners, sociologists and historians throughout the world. The collection contains vital information about Park Forest, from birth to the present, as well as extensive documentation of both personal lives of citizens and the municipal life of the community through the years. Photos and videos of such things as the annual Fourth of July parade, The Plaza shopping center (one of the first two in the country), Pancake Day, and other memorable Park Forest people, places, and events are included.
In recent years, the archival collection was moved from its former location in the library to a storage area there. In January 2007, the collection was endangered when the library storage area flooded. The collection was stored in PODS storage containers at a distant facility for five years. In January 2012, the collection was brought out of storage and is once again accessible to the public. The Archive Office is in St. Mary's Catholic Church, Room 2, at 227 Monee Road in Park Forest. It is open Friday 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and liberally by appointment. Contact us through our email for an appointment to visit the collection. Click here to see what files are available at the Library, along with OH! Park Forest transcripts. Work has begun on finding a permanent home to provide staff, space for files and shelving, an office area, a public reading room, and exhibit and display space. For now we have settled into our new temporary home with volunteer staff, shelving, a small office area, and space for researchers. Come see us. We are so happy to make the collection available again. Support for this space is provided by the Park Forest Historical Society and the Park Forest Public Library, with matching challenge grant help from the Village of Park Forest. We thank Father Tri, Father Dennis Spies, and St. Mary's Catholic Church for the space. Link to St. Mary's website for a map and driving directions, and for a photo of the church so you know what to look for. St. Mary's Catholic Church, click here.
Local History: The Park Forest Historical Society through its local history collection will preserve written or recorded materials, photographs, and other items which document the history of Park Forest and provide a record of current and past happenings in the community.
The Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive was established in 1980-1981 by the Reference Staff of the Park Forest Public Library. The purpose of the collection is to gather and preserve any and all written, audio, visual, and electronically-stored information, or other items-current and historical-which document the history of Park Forest, Illinois and the area surrounding Park Forest, Illinois which affects its residents and its history. The collection will also include information on the history of suburbia in general and on the history of city planning which helps students and researchers to better understand the place that Park Forest, Illinois holds in the history of suburbia and of city planning.The greatest majority of items acquired by gift or purchase should relate to this village, the geographic area immediately surrounding it, its residents, physical structures, sites, activities, historical events, politics, geography, and social life. In these categories the collection includes all primary and secondary sources related to Park Forest, Illinois, including, but not limited to directories, personal papers, correspondence, yearbooks, manuscripts, unpublished histories, photographs, films, recordings, organization records of clubs, businesses and agencies, etc.