Need help with your local history research?  Reference librarians are happy to assist you at the Gail Borden Public Library.  Please contact the Information Desk at 847-429-4680 to schedule an individual appointment, or drop in during our normal business hours.

House Research

Many owners of historic buildings want to fully understand the history of their property. While unlocking the past of your home can be rewarding, the task of researching and establishing the validity of information can lead you to many sources. How to Research a House in Kane County can be a great starting point in your quest for information.


Located on the second floor, the genealogy collection contains over 4,400 books and hundreds of reels of microfilm. The collection concentrates on Elgin and Kane County, Illinois, but also contains materials relating to twenty-five other states, mostly east of the Mississippi River, and several European countries. Online databases such as Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest Online can also be accessed in this area. The Elgin Genealogical Society also cooperates with  Gail Borden by having volunteer members stationed at the library at certain times to assist with research. How to get started and sources for research are available at the Gail Borden Public Library website.

Elgin Watch Research

The Elgin History Museum's volunteers can help research old Elgin National Watch company timepieces. They specialize in Elgin watches made between 1867 and the mid-1960s. Visit their Research Services page for more information and download their watch research brochure.

The Illinois Digital Archive

Illinois Digital Archives is the library's online archive of historic Elgin photographs. The Gail Borden Public Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes, not for commercial use. The library requests that viewers acknowledge the Illinois Digital Archives and the Gail Borden Public Library when using an image from this site. For further questions, please contact Phillilp Schneider at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 847-608-5226.


A searchable index of Elgin area articles from the Courier News & Daily Herald is available. While helpful to researchers, this is not a comprehensive index.
Newspapers and microfilm are held at the Gail Borden Public Library.  


Books Online

Elgin: Days Gone By.  E.C.Alft.
According to the preface:"This book is not a narrative of the settlement of Elgin, nor of the growth and decline of its dairy and watch industries, nor of its more recent development as a service center. Rather, it is a selection of vignettes, revised and in several cases expanded, which were published in the "Days Gone By" column of the Daily Courier-News beginning in 1981.

Elgin: An American History.  E.C. Alft.
Written in 1984 for Elgin's sesquicentennial, this book chronicle's Elgin's beginnings through the mid-eighties.  A special update for the 80's and 90's is also included on the website.