Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries | Historical Sources | Maps | Special Features | User's Guide
User's Guide: Using the Encyclopedia of Chicago
User's Guide
Computer Workstation Requirements
Mac Help
Windows Help
Using the
Encyclopedia of Chicago
Beginning Your Exploration
Using Index Pages
Browsing Entry Pages
Viewing Historical Sources
Reading Bound Volumes
Exploring Rich Maps
Searching the Encyclopedia
Beginning Your Exploration of the
Encyclopedia of Chicago

The front page provides a variety of ways to enter and explore the Encyclopedia of Chicago and take advantage of its resources. This section of the User's Guide offers an overview of the page and introduces you to these methods for browsing, searching, or purchasing elements of the Encyclopedia. In this introduction, you will also find links to other sections of the User's Guide, which provide more detailed descriptions of these functions.

There are five entry points on the front page: the Main Navigation bar, Search box, Breadcrumb Trail, Purchase Area, and Content Area. You can use the tools available in any of these sections to access materials in the Encyclopedia. The Navigation Bar, Search Box, Breadcrumb Trail, and Content Area take you inside the Encyclopedia to its indexes or directly to its contents. The Purchase Area brings you to the Chicago Historical Society's online store, from which you can purchase prints of some of the images in the Encyclopedia as well as copies of the print version of the Encyclopedia.

Main Navigation

The Navigation Bar appears on every page in the Encyclopedia, immediately below the title in the upper left-hand corner of the browser window. In this area, you will find links to four indexes, as well as a link to the User's Guide. The indexes are lists of the Encyclopedia's content, separated by type, that allow you to browse the Encyclopedia and explore its various resources. (For more information on indexes, please see the "Using Index Pages" section of the User's Guide.)

The "Entries" link will bring you to an alphabetical list of the titles of every entry written for the Encyclopedia.

The "Historical Sources" link calls up an alphabetical list of all the historical sources (photographs, paintings, documents, drawings, maps, and other materials) used within the Encyclopedia. (For more information on these historical sources, please see the "Viewing Historical Sources" section of the User's Guide.)

A list of "Maps" is also accessible via the Main Navigation bar. In addition to historical maps, numerous maps developed for the Encyclopedia are available, including Rich Maps, which have been enhanced with hot spots providing access to additional, related data and resources. (For more information on these enhanced maps, please see the "Exploring Rich Maps" section of the User's Guide.)

"Special Features" provides a listing of multimedia and content features developed to enrich the Encyclopedia user experience. These include a biographical dictionary; timelines; heavily illustrated "year pages," which depict nine particularly significant years in the city's past; eight tables presenting data on a range of topics, such as Chicago mayors, railroad lines, and weather extremes; galleries of historical sources organized around subjects like religion or the city's grid street pattern; and interpretive digital essays, comprehensive collections of information on a particular topic, such as the history and legacy of the Plan of Chicago, or water and its impact on people throughout the metropolitan region.

All of these links are accessible at all times from every page of the Encyclopedia. Thus you have immediate access to the User's Guide, or to lists of the Encyclopedia's contents at any point during your exploration.


The Search box allows you to specifically target or direct your investigation of the Encyclopedia. Click your cursor in the Search box, type in a topic or keyword, hit the return key, and the Encyclopedia will generate a list of content materials containing that term or terms. (For more information on the Search function in the Encyclopedia, see the "Searching the Encyclopedia" section of the User's Guide.)

Breadcrumb Trail

Underneath the Main Navigation at the top of the page, you will notice a series of thumbnail images from pages you have visited. For every page you visit, another icon will appear in the Breadcrumb Trail box. If you place your cursor over any of these images, you will see a text title for the page. If you click on the thumbnail, you can move back to that particular page. On the right end of the trail, click on "Full List" to see a full-page list of your 25 previously viewed pages. The Breadcrumb function helps you retrace your steps and keep track of the path you have made through the Encyclopedia.

Purchase Area

The box in the upper-right corner of your browser window takes you OUT OF THE ENCYCLOPEDIA to the Chicago Historical Society's online store. From there, you can purchase select images from the Encyclopedia or the book version of the Encyclopedia.

Content Area

The strip of black-and-white photographs on the front page provides immediate access to the contents of the Encyclopedia. Click on an image to see a full-size version of the photograph, read the caption, and access links to related materials. Then use these links to continue your exploration through the Encyclopedia.