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Independent Research Projects

This section has a couple of ideas for large projects that are meant either for independent adults that are curious about local history or for advanced students, either in High School or in College that are looking for a serious research project. The Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Mount Prospect Public Library can help a person get started on these projects, but depending on how serious a person is about the process, it may require trips to some of the larger organization in the area. 

Research Projects

    Researching People

    Researching Buildings

    Researching Businesses

    Researching Organizations

Preserving Antiques and Family Collections

 

 

Research Projects

Research projects can be a lot of fun and are education for those involved. Below are some general guide lines for a couple of different types of projects that will help to increase your knowledge and apriciation of your local community. These projects will also be useful in class room settings for advanced high school students and college students who are looking for independant research projects. With each type of project there are a number of suggestions for specific topics, although these are simply suggestions, if you have other interests we would be glad to help you on those projects as well. If you need any help with any of the projects below feel free to contact either the Mount Prospect Historical Society or the Mount Prospect Public Library.

 

 

Researching People                                                                                     Top

Many people are interested  in researching their family's history or finding out more about specific members of their family. There are a number of commercial websites that, for a membership fee, assist people in this research. For many this is a good place to start, however these sites often can only offer the most general information. If you are interested in working with more original material and perhaps tracking down a more personal view of the individual you are researching this section should help you.  There are many good sources for information on individuals or families that have lived in the area. The first places to look are the Mount Prospect Historical Society and The Mount Prospect Public Library, both of which keep files on many individuals. While at the Library, you may also want to check their collection of Mount Prospect Directories and Phone books, as this can give you an address, and a in some cases basic information. The Library also has a genealogy section that could be helpful in your research. If neither of these organizations has information on the person you are looking for, you may want to extend your search to some of the larger organizations. The Cook County Clerk's office holds all of the records of births, deaths and marriages, or the vital statistics, of Mount Prospect. The Clerk's Office may be helpful for getting basic information on individuals. The Federal and State censuses are another great source of information. However, Census material is not very easy to go through. If you have an address of where the person lived, it will be much easier to find them in the Census, as Census material is organized by Enumeration District, or neighborhood, not by name. In the interest of protecting individual's privacy, the original manuscript census data, or the actual answers to questions given by individuals, is kept sealed for 72 years. This means that the most recent federal Census that you can access is the 1930 Census.  The National Archives Great Lakes Branch has the entire collection of manuscript census data that has been released to the public, which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in genealogy or tracing the history of communities. The Newberry Library is also a great resource for people interested in genealogy or tracking down an individual. They have an extensive collection, which includes many resources for genealogical research and a microfilm collection of national and Illinois Census data.

If you are interested in doing a research project on an individual and would like a suggestion of an interesting person from the history of Mount Prospect, please consider the following people:
Frank Bierman (Local Businessman, Fire Chief, Local Booster)
Meta Bitner (Founding member of the Library, involved with numerous local organizations)
William Busse, (First Mayor of Mount Prospect, Cook County Commissioner, Businessman, etc.)
Dan Congreve (Mayor of Mount Prospect, Local Businessman)
Salvatore DiMuchi (Controversial large scale Developer in Mount Prospect)
Bertha Ehard (Founder of the Mount Prospect Camp Fire Girls)
Edith Freund (Local Columnist and Historian)
Herman Haas (Pastor and teacher at St. Paul Lutheran Church)
Edwin Haberkamp (Early Settler)
Richard Hauff (Controversial owner of the Mount Prospect Country Club)
Louise Koester (First Doctor in Mount Prospect)
Linneman Family (Early Settlers)
Axel Lonnquist (Major Developer in Mount Prospect)
Meeske Family (Early family in Mount Prospect and owners of Meeske's Market)
Mensching Family (Early Family in Mount Prospect)
Meyn Family (Early family in Mount Prospect, first Blacksmith)
Moehling Family (early Family in Mount Prospect, owner of the first general store)
Idlyl Nipper (Influential volunteer, important in development of Library and other group)
John Pohlman (First Station Master in Mount Prospect, early Trustee)
Owen Rooney (Very early resident, house is oldest standing in Mount Prospect) 
C.O. Schlaver (Mayor of Mount Prospect, Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Reporter, etc.)
Robert Teichert (Mayor of Mount Prospect)
William Wille (Early resident of Mount Prospect, builder responsible for Central school, Wille Hall etc.)
George Wittenberg (Long term Chief of Police)


 

 

Researching Buildings                                     Top   

Many people enjoy researching the history of their houses, or finding out more about the history of public buildings in the community. Buildings are like people, every building has a history, some are more famous than others, but they are all interesting in one way or another. If you are interested in researching your home or a building in the community there are a number of places you can look for information. Tracking down a complete history of a building can be time consuming, but these tips should get you started. The Mount Prospect Historical Society has files on around 250 buildings in the community, so it is a good place to call first. The Mount Prospect Historical Society also has information on almost all of the subdivisions within the community, this can give you an estimate of when your neighborhood was developed and who was the developer. If you want to extend the search from what the Society holds, you can try the Village of Mount Prospect www.mountprospect.com. The Building Department has records that go back into the 1970s for projects within incorporated Mount Prospect. If there has been no work done on your house that would require a building permit since the early 1970s, they will not have any information on your house. If you have not been able to find anything within Mount Prospect, there are a couple of county agencies that you may want to contact.  The Cook County Assessor's office keeps the records of property valuations, which includes basic information on the history of houses, location and boundaries. You can also get the Permanent Identification Number (PIN) for a property from the Assessor's Office, which will help you with further investigations. If you have your PIN you can contact the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office which will allow you to see information on title transfers and construction. This will give you at least a basic history of your building. There are also a couple of additional sources that can help you with the history of a building. The Chicago Historical Society has a large collection of fire insurance maps, these maps are dated and show the foot print of a building on a site. Different maps will also tell you additional things about the site, such as the material that a building is made out of or in some cases the owner of the building.

If you are interested in doing a research project on a building and would like a suggestion of an interesting site from the history of Mount Prospect, please consider the following structures:
2 W. Busse Ave (The Busse Building)
22 W. Busse Ave (Wille Tavern)
808 E. Central (William Busse's house)
10 S. Emerson (The Library and former site of Central School)
100 S. Emerson (Village Hall formerly The Mount Prospect State Bank)
501 S. Emerson (South Church)
203 E. Evergreen (Site of First Municipal Building)
15 S. George (Owen Rooney House)
1100 S. Linnemann (St. John old Schoolhouse)
1101 S. Linnemann (St. John Church)
301 S. I-Oka (St. Raymond Church)
101 S. Maple (Dietrich Friedrich's House)
Rand and Central (The Zenith Broadcasting Station)
Rand Road (Prospect Plaza)
Rand and Elmhurst (Randhurst Shopping Center)
100 S. School (St. Paul Church)
600 S. See-Gwun (Mount Prospect Country Club)
 

 

 

Researching Businesses                                                                                 Top                   

There are a number of businesses in Mount Prospect that have a long and interesting history. There are also a number of businesses that were very important to the development of the community but no longer exist. The Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Mount Prospect Public Library both have information on a number of businesses in the community. The Society has a large collection of information on the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce, including a complete set of Chamber Directories, which have listings, locations and often advertisements from many local businesses. The Library has a large collection of Mount Prospect Directories and phone books, which have addresses and some advertisements for businesses. If you are unable to find information at either of these sources, you may want to contact the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce and see if there is any information in their files on the Business. The Chicago Historical Society also has a large collection of directories and phone books that may be of some use in tracking down a business. You may also want to contact Cook County or the State of Illinois to look for records of incorporation, legal settlements, and tax information.

If you are interested in doing a research project on a business and would like a suggestion of an interesting business from the history of Mount Prospect, please consider the following companies:
Busse Automotive
Busse Bierman Hardware
Busse Flowers
Crowfoot Manufacturing
Jack Gunnel's Restaurant
Keefer's Pharmacy
Kensington Business Center
Kruse's Tavern
Meeske's Market
Moehling General Store
Mount Prospect Creamery
Mount Prospect State Bank
Old Orchard Country Club
Rob Roy Development
Zenith Broadcasting

 

 

Researching an Organization                                                         Top

Mount Prospect became the town that we know today largely through the efforts of local individuals. Many of these individuals worked within local groups or organizations that have had a large effect on the history of the community. If you are interested in researching the history a local organization here are a couple of tips to help you find sources. The first thing to do is find out if the organization still exists, or if any of it's members still exist. If the organization does not exist or you are looking for more information than you were able to get from the organization, you can contact either the Mount Prospect Historical Society or the Mount Prospect Public Library. The Society has extensive files on a number of different organizations, in some cases more information than the organization has. The Society also has a number of artifacts from different organizations, which can be helpful in understanding or documenting an organization. As well, the Mount Prospect Public Library has files on a number of organizations. The Library also has microfilmed copies of local newspapers going back into the early 20th century. This can be of great help in documenting what an organization has done or who was involved with the organization. If you would like more information than you can find in the local sources, searching for a national branch of the organization can be useful. If none of this brings you the information that you are looking for, an internet search for the name may turn up some information and you can always contact a member of the Historical Society and ask for help in locating information.

If you are interested in doing a research project on an organization and would like a suggestion of an interesting group from the history of Mount Prospect, please consider the following organizations:
American Legion
Business and Professional Women, Northwest
Campfire Girls
E-Hart Girls
Elks
Garden Club
Good Neighbor Party
Homemakers Club
Lions Club
Mount Prospect Baseball Association
Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce
Mount Prospect Citizen's Band
Mount Prospect Civil Defense League
Mount Prospect Historical Society
Mount Prospect Midget Football League
Mount Prospect Park District
Mount Prospect Public Library
Mount Prospect Women's Club
The Questers
The Rotary Club

 

 

Preserving Family Collections                                                      Top

There are a few common sense things that pretty much everybody can do that will help save the antiques you own. Most of these simple rules can be applied to almost any kind of antique, whether it is your grand mother's wedding dress or an antique arm chair, most of these rules will apply to both. The first thing to remember is that things don't just deteriorate on their own; there is some condition or contaminant that is causing the damage to the objects. In many cases, the damaging agent is the conditions of the rooms they are stored in. When considering the preservation of the antiques in your house, you should consider four basic conditions: temperature, humidity, stability, and light levels.

Temperature: You don't want to expose an antique to any extreme temperatures, either hot or cold. If there is a room in your house that does not have a controlled temperature, such as a glassed in porch or an attic, you do not want to keep any antiques in that room. Exposing an antique to ninety-degree weather in the summer or zero degree weather in the winter will take years off its life. Once damage is done, it cannot be undone. Exposing any antiques to extreme temperatures will do damage in a short period of time, although you may not be able to see it immediately. Different materials have different ideal temperatures, but in general a temperature between 65 degrees and 70 degrees is ideal and anything within two or three degrees of that range should be fine.

Humidity: Very high humidity levels can cause havoc on an antique collection. High levels of humidity, which are very common around Mount Prospect in the summer, can cause damage to wood finished, warping of art works and the development of mold. Any kind of mold is dangerous to the health of an antique. Mold spores discolor textiles, eat the finish off of furniture, and destroy leather. If you have a room in your house, for example your basement, which becomes very humid do not put antiques in it if you want them to survive. Of course, to make life confusing, too little humidity can also be damaging to antiques, causing them to become brittle and warped. In general, a relative humidity level between 30 and 40 percent will be acceptable for most antiques.  

Stability: The most important thing in terms of temperature and humidity is that there is stability. An antique that goes from 50 degrees to 80 degrees in one day is going to be worse off than one that is 80 degrees for a week. Rapid transitions between temperatures or humidity levels can cause dramatic damage in a very short time. So when considering a place to keep your favorite antiques, measure how dramatically the temperature and humidity fluctuate in a room before picking a home for an antiques. You can buy thermometers that record the highest and the lowest temperature and relative humidity reached, write down the extremes every day and then reset the thermometer. If a room fluctuates more than ten degrees in a day, it will reduce the life of your antiques.

Light Levels:     One of the most damaging things to any antique is sunlight. The ultra violet light in sunlight is very damaging to objects, it will fade the color in textiles, darken paper, make leather brittle, and cause silvering and fading in photographs. It is irreversible. One wants to be very careful about leaving any antique or fragile material in direct sunlight. Ideally, antiques would be kept in a room with little or no natural light and lighted by low watt, incandescent light bulbs, as florescent and Halogen bulbs also emit ultra-violet light. Finding spaces that fit this description can be difficult. However, there are a couple other options homeowners have. Some new windows on the market are made of treated glass that will filter out most of the light. If you are not looking for new windows, there are plexi-glass panes that can be cut to the shape of your windows and placed inside your window frames. These are clear plastic and will filter out 99% of the dangerous light; they are used by many museums. This is an expensive and difficult proposition that probably is not right for most homes. A more cost-effective solution can be found in plastic widow treatments. There is plastic sheeting that can be placed directly onto the glass panes in your house that will filter out 97% of dangerous light. If any of our readers are interested in learning more about these different options, they can contact the Historical Society for additional information. For others who are interested in preserving their antiques but are not interested in spending money on UV filtration, there are a couple of other pointers. First, note were the light directly falls in your house and move objects out of its path. Second, the light in the morning is stronger than the light in the evening, so if you cannot find spaces for antique furniture that will not be in direct light, it is better to have antiques in rooms that will get the evening light rather than morning light. Remember that some minor adjustments to your home's decor can often extend the life of your heirlooms for generations.

Airborne Irritants:         There are damaging particles that are floating around in the air in many homes. Many of these are hard to get rid of, although there are some steps that can be taken. There are expensive air filters but most of those available do not actually filter out many of the particles that are corrosive. Air purifiers with HEPA or equivalent filters are effective but very expensive. For most people, a cheaper and still effective process is to use a soft, dry cloth. If you regularly wipe objects down, keeping them free from dust and build ups of particles, you will greatly increase the life of your antiques. Make sure that the finish is intact and not delicate before you begin and then wipe down the object, changing sides of the cloth frequently so the surface touching the object is always clean. If you clean off your heirlooms on a regular basis and wipe them down with a soft cloth they will survive for many more generations than if you allow particles to settle on them or if you use furniture polishes or cleaning agents. Almost all furniture polishes and waxes, especially anything that comes out of a spray can, contain Silicone, which is actually damaging to the finish of your furniture. These polishes will build up a dull film on the furniture and damage the original finish in the long run.

You may be wondering, where are these damaging particles coming from? The first thing to think about is dust. The vast majority of dust particles in your house are actually made up of dead human skin cells, lint from clothing, and animal dander, if you have pets. This dust is abrasive and will slowly wear away at the finishes on objects. The dust will also attract insects and store moisture. There is not much that can be done about this except to be aware of it and to regularly clean off objects with a soft cloth. Other airborne contaminants that are easier to manage include things like cigarette smoke, candles and incense. These will leave tar or wax build-ups on objects in your house that will discolor objects and erode the finishes on wood. It is a good idea to avoid anything that produces smoke in a room with antiques. There are also contaminants that will come in from outside. Car exhaust is very corrosive, as is smoke from charcoal or wood barbecues. Although these can't be avoided entirely, you can choose to close windows in rooms with your most valued objects. Mold spores and pollen can also be blown in from outside. These are damaging and again your best bet is to keep certain windows closed and to clean regularly with a soft cloth.

If you would like more information or have a specific question about how to care for an object in your house, feel free to contact the Mount Prospect Historical Society at (847) 392-9006 or mphist@aol.com.