Brief History

The Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive

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 smae 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. The Society archivist and volunteers provide access and reference service to this collection.

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, original sales brochures and news articles are available on the Illinois Digital Archives at, or through the Society's website at

Ownership and responsibility for the photograph collection and digital project have already 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 in the custody of the Society. The videotape collection of about 135 3/4" Umatic tapes from the Cable companies, and many VHS tapes of past PFHS programs and a number of oral history interviews are also in the custody of the Society, held at the Archive Office.  The Park Forest Historical Society and Park Forest Public Library share the rent at St. Mary's, and the Village of Park Forest has contributed to the preservation of Park Forest History in the form of a grant to the Society.



Special note:  Beginning in May 2009, the Park Forest Public Library will be doing interior renovation.

The Park Forest Historical Society has foundsafe haven for some items in the collection.  Hard copy of the

Park Forest Reporter and the collection of historical videotapes of interviews and past programs

will be temporarily available offsite, with the assistance of volunteers from the Park Forest Historical Society.


Help Further Our Mission

The mission of the Park Forest Historical Society is to preserve, interpret and celebrate the unique history, diversity and achievements of the Village of Park Forest, Illinois through exhibits, publications and special programs;To educate residents, students and visitors in all aspects of village history;To encourage donations and enlist volunteers for the Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive and the 1950s Park Forest House Museum;To honor those who have, over a long period of time, contributed to the Village of Park Forest.

Your membership preserves history.
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