A Guide to Local History and Genealogy Resources
Westchester Township History Museum
The Leslie and Mary Pratt Local History Archives
The Leslie and Mary Pratt Local History Archives consists of resources pertaining to the history of Westchester
Township, located in the Indiana Dunes country in northern Porter County, Indiana. The Township consists of the
towns of Burns Harbor, Chesterton, Dune Acres, Porter, and the unincorporated communities of Furnessville and
Tremont, as well as the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Archives is named
for Leslie and Mary Pratt, local business owners and community leaders, whose memorial gift to Westchester Public
Library helps to fund the Westchester Township History Museum. The Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m.
Research appointments are recommended.
Appointments with Museum Researcher Eva Hopkins are recommended. Call her at 219-983-9715 or e-mail her at
How can the Archives help visitors? Museum staff are happy to assist with the following topics:
Genealogies of local families
House histories of local homes
Historic photographs of the area
Westchester Township history
Prairie Club Archives and the William and Flora Richardson Archives
Services and Appointments: While the Archives is a non-circulating collection, research assistance is offered
free of charge to Museum visitors on a first come first served basis.
Fees: While local residents and nonresident museum visitors are not charged, there is a $5/hr fee for research
assistance to nonresident researchers who communicate by e-mail, phone or letter. Photocopying must be approved by
the staff and will be charged at the rate of 10 cents a page. There is no charge for copying a photograph from the
collection and the museum will digitally scan up to 3 photos free of charge; after that the fee is $5 per photo.
The Museum requires that a credit line be given for all photographs copied from the collection.
Organization: Most of the holdings of the Archives are listed in the online public catalog of the Westchester Public
Library, but many items are yet to be added to that site. Museum staff have prepared indexes and user’s guides for
many of the Archives resources (see below). Some items are kept at Thomas Library, the main branch of WPL.
Artifacts – Local history artifacts are cataloged in a database with keyword access.
Artwork – The work of local artists is on display throughout the museum. Information about each artist is
available, as well as a 20 minute PowerPoint presentation on the artists.
Audio and Photograph Resources
Historic photograph archive, arranged by subject.
Oral history collection, 151 transcribed and indexed oral history interviews.
Postcard collection, local postcards are arranged by location and subject.
Slide Shows of the Duneland Folk Festival Local History Programs.
Exhibits – A permanent exhibit tracing the history of the area from the glaciers to 1981 and a
temporary gallery for local history exhibits that change every 3 – 4 months.
Forms, free genealogy pedigree and family chart forms are available at the Museum.
Genealogy Handbooks for adults and children may be found at 929.1 in the non-fiction sections at the Thomas
and Hageman Branches of Westchester Public Library.
Maps, Plats, and Property Abstracts
County Atlases, 1876 – 1921.
Plat Books, from 1876.
Sandborn Maps for Chesterton and Porter (1893 -1951).
Area Maps, arranged by location.
Museum Store sells books, photographs, and DVD’s relating to area history and past Museum exhibits.
Book Collection, relating to the history of the area, arranged by Dewey Decimal.
Chesterton Tribune, (1884 – present) microfilm and bound copies (index at Thomas Library).
City Directories, arranged chronologically from 1902.
County and Regional Histories
Duneland Historical Society, indexed newsletters and research papers.
Family Histories, arranged alphabetically within the 929.2 span
Phone books, arranged chronologically from 1911 (intermittent coverage).
Vertical File, local history topics arranged alphabetically within categories (Businesses, Churches,
Events, Organizations, People, Schools, and Statistical Data).
Westchester Township, photo-history produced by the Museum, published by Arcadia Pub.
Yearbooks and Graduation Programs, arranged chronologically from 1897.
The Prairie Club Archives, publications, manuscripts, photos, glass slides, etc. of the Club’s early
development and efforts to save the Indiana Dunes (user’s guide available).
The William and Flora Richardson Archives, publications, manuscripts, photographs, and glass slides of
two early 20th century Indiana Dunes conservationists (user’s guide available)
Other Regional and Online Resources to Consult
Genealogy Dept., Valparaiso Public Library (www.pcpls.lib.in.us/genealogy.htm) at 103 Jefferson St. Valparaiso,
IN, an excellent site to visit to use numerous online genealogy databases and special Porter County
resources; friendly and helpful staff.
Calumet Archives at IUN (www.iun.edu/~cra/) at Indiana Univ.
Northwest in Gary, IN, a wide variety of records of Porter and Lake County individuals and organizations.
Allen Co. Public Library. (www.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy/index.html) a renowned
genealogy collection, extensive national and state resources, well worth the trip to Fort Wayne, IN.
Indiana State Library (www.in.gov/library/) Indianapolis, IN, a
strong collection of family history records and a wide variety of online databases. Be sure to check out
Indiana Memory, Indiana’s digital library containing a wide variety of historical documents.
Indiana Historical Society (www.indianahistory.org/pub_prog/genealogy)
Indianapolis, IN, excellent family history collections, programs and publications.
Family History Library (www.familysearch.org) A wealth of
publicly available genealogy resources provided by the Mormons in Salt Lake City, UT.
Great Lakes Regional Archives, National Archives and Records Administration, (email@example.com) Chicago, IL, another great source of
regional historical records.
Newberry Library (www.newberry.org) Chicago, IL, rich regional
history and genealogy holdings; reference librarians will help by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (free!).
Chicago History Museum (http://chicagohistory.org) Chicago, IL,
an excellent research collection; check website for Research Resources, and Family Research.
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