Family History and Genealogy Services

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Illinois Genealogy Resources

Background Sources

Newberry Library in Chicago has been compiling a biography and industry card index. This index includes references to biographical sketches found in over twenty-five local histories and biographical compendia published in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most of the indexed works concentrate on Chicago and Cook County, although a few statewide biographical compendia containing a large number of Chicagoans have also been indexed as part of this project. Written requests for no more than three subjects per letter will be answered by the Newberry staff.

For more detailed and original local sources, contact the local historical and genealogical groups and city and county libraries that may have regional history collections. The September 1988 Illinois Libraries (vol. 70, no. 7) is devoted to Illinois public libraries with genealogical collections, with emphasis on the unique features of each collection. An April 1986 issue (vol. 68, no. 4) of this same publication describes private genealogical collections, university libraries, governmental agencies, and the Shawnee library system.

Chicago, founded in 1833, has extensive records for research. The Chicago fire complicates the search for accurate records prior to 1871.  For Chicago records, see Szucs' work listed below.

The Illinois State Genealogical Society sponsored the bicentennial project which endeavored to index at least one history for each of the 102 Illinois counties. It was completed in 1976 by the Genealogy Projects Committee of the Winnetka Public Library. This index can be used at the Winnetka Public Library or at the Illinois State Archives, where a search request can be made for no more than two specific individuals. If found, copies of the biographical sketches will be sent.
  • Descriptive Inventory of the Archives of the State of Illinois. 2nd ed., Springfield, Illinois, 1991.
  • Dollarhide, William. Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735–1815. Bountiful, Utah: AGLL Genealogical Services, 1977. 
  • Gooldy, Pat and Ray Gooldy. Manual for Illinois Genealogical Research. Indianapolis : P. Gooldy, 1994.
  • Howard, Robert P. Illinois: A History of the Prairie State. Grand Rapids, Michigan : W.B. Eerdman Publishing, 1972.
  • "Illinois County Histories at the Illinois State Library," Illinois Libraries 82 (2000): 92-141.
  • Rubincam, Milton. “Migrations to Illinois, 1673–1860.” Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. (Springfield, Ill.: The Society) vol.4, no.3 (Oct. 1972):127–34.
  • Schweitzer, George K. Illinois Genealogical Research. Knoxville, Tenn. : the author, 1977.
  • Sinko, Peggy Tuck. Guide to Local and Family History at the Newberry Library. Salt Lake City : Ancestry, 1987.
  • Szucs, Loretto Dennis. Chicago and Cook County: A Guide to Research. Salt Lake City : Ancestry, Inc., 1996.
  • A Summary Guide to Local Governmental Records in the Illinois Regional Archives, 2d ed., 1999
  • Wolf, Joseph C. A Reference Guide for Genealogical and Historical Research in Illinois. Detroit : Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, 1967.
  • Wyman, Mark. Immigration History and Ethnicity in Illinois: A Guide. Springfield, Ill.: Illinois State Historical Society, 19–?.
Genealogy in the Illinois State Archives Genealogical Research Series Pamphlets from the Illinois State Archives