The Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive was started by the reference staff of the Park Forest Public Library in the early 1980s. Due to flooding in the Library basement, the bulk of the Archive was moved to remote storage in January 2007, where it remained for five long years. In January 2012, the Archive, Society office and Digital Lab were liberated from storage. They are now housed in Room 2 of the former St. Mary's Catholic School in the church by the same name at 227 Monee Road. Some materials, including circulating copies of "OH! Park Forest," oral history transcripts, more than 270 subject files, scrapbooks, yearbooks, duplicate and originals of a number of news and magazine articles, DVD's of documentary films, and catalogued books on Park Forest and city planning, or citing Park Forest are kept at the Park Forest Public Library, 400 Lakewood Blvd. The 5,000+ image photograph collection is housed at the Archive Office at St. Mary's, along with duplicate files, duplicate yearbooks, the oral history recordings andmaster transcripts, and a number of other things. The Society archivist and volunteers provide access and reference service to this collection, including that at the Library.
"Park Forest: An Illinois Planned Community" Illinois Digital Archives
In 1998-99, the Library was awarded an IMLS grant through the Illinois State Library, of $39,500 to create a digital project, "Park Forest: An Illinois Planned Community. "Photographs, the original Plan of Town of 1946, documents, 27 of the 79 "OH! Park Forest" oral history interview transcripts, original sales brochures and news articles are available on the Illinois Digital Archives at www.idaillinois.org, or through the Society's website at www.parkforesthistory.org.
Ownership of the Collection Items
Ownership and responsibility for the photograph collection, digital project, and Park Forest Reporter hard copies have been transferred to the Park Forest Historical Society. When the Society finds a suitable building and funding to support the Archive, the bulk of the Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive will come under their ownership, with some basic research materials retained at the Park Forest Public Library. Hard copies of the Park Forest Reporter, The Park Forest News and Park Forest View are at the Archive Office. The videotape collection of about 135 3/4" Umatic tapes from the Cable companies, and many VHS tapes of past PFHS programs and masters of oral history interviews are owned by the Society, held at the Archive Office. The Park Forest Historical Society and Park Forest Public Library share the rent at St. Mary's. The Village of Park Forest has contributed to the preservation of Park Forest History in the form of multiple matching challenge grants of $5,000 to the Society.
Grants and Aid
In September 2013, PFHS was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services Collection Management Grant to better describe and catalog the collections at the 1950s Park Forest House Museum and the Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive. Many hours of work have gone into this grant which should last thorugh September 2015, if we can keep a museum open. PFHS has purchased PastPerfect Collection Maintenance software, a computer and a printer/scanner/fax machine with the grant to make this work possible.
In December 2013 we were awarded a National Endowment of the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant which has paid for a preservation consultant to write a report on the collection and its care and to make recommendations for improvement. With that grant, we are able to purchase nearly $4,000 worth of supplies, including clean, acid-free buffered housing and cartons for the collection.
Hours and Contact Information
The Archive Office is officially open Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; or by appointment. The Archivist, Jane Nicoll is there many other times. Contact her to make an appointment. It is a good idea to let her know you are coming during open hours, as well.