Family History and Genealogy Services

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Illinois Genealogy Resources

Illinois Libraries and Archives

The Statewide Illinois Library Catalog, known as SILC, is Illinois' first all inclusive statewide union catalog that integrates WorldCat and the Illinois Library Systems' local consortial OPACs, to provide both shelf status and interlibrary loan capabilities in a single searchable interface. SILC resides on the familiar FirstSearch platform as an additional WorldCat database that allows users to scope to regional groups within Illinois, as well as by type of library. From a single WorldCat record, users will be able to link to a local shared catalog record to see if and where an item is available for loan. I-Share catalogs holdings at the Illinois State Library and sixty-five Illinois college and private libraries, including the Newberry Library, Southern Illinois University libraries, and University of Illinois library.

Every Library in Illinois provides contact information for all Illinois libraries.
  • The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (112 North Sixth St., Springfield 62701) is the premier repository for materials relating to the life of Abraham Lincoln and the history of the Prairie State. The ALPL, originally the Illinois State Historical Library, was created in 1889 by the Illinois General Assembly, which charged the new library with collecting and preserving "books, pamphlets, manuscripts, monographs, writings, and other materials of historical interest and useful to the historian, bearing upon the political, religious, or social history of the State of Illinois from the earliest known period of time." 

    A part of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. County histories, plat books, census indexes, cemetery indexes, city material, family and association files, microfilmed newspapers, manuscripts, and photographs are included in its collections, much only available on site. Microfilmed newspapers from the library's extensive collection can be obtained via interlibrary loan. The library houses over twelve million Illinois and Lincoln artifacts, including 350,000 photographs; 175,000 publications, maps, and manuscripts; and microfilmed newspapers or interlibrary loan. Horizon Information Portal identifies most ALPL publications and manuscript collections.

    ALPL features published volumes, including cemetery inventories and indexes to biographies in Illinois county histories, federal and state censuses through 1880, and some county land, probate, and vital records. City directories, family genealogies, and books on Midwest settlement, the Northwest Territoy, and overland journeys round out ALPL's holdings. Its manuscripts division has a card catalog and finding aids for larger collections and special subject areas.

    ALPL has published an indexed series of transcribed original documents and laws concerning French Cahokia and Kaskaskia, Illinois territorial periods, and early American settlement. The volumes include biographies of early settlers and statesmen. ALPL also holds indexes of its Journal of Illinois History (formerly Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society), from 1907 through 1967, and Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society.

  • Allen County Public Library - Fort Wayne, Indiana
    - The library has the largest collection of genealogy and local history periodicals in North America.
  • Augustana College, Swenson Center. (639 Thirty-eighth Street, Rock Island 61201-2296). Is the North American agent for Svensk Arkivinformation, a division of the Swedish National Archives. The center arranges purchase of Swedish parish records on microfiche and provides resources for the study of Swedish immigration to North America.
  • Belleville Public Library
    121 E. Washington St.
    Belleville, IL 62220-2205
    Phone: (618) 234-0441
    Fax: (618) 234-9474

  • Blackhawk Genealogical Library
    19th St. and 4th Ave.
    Rock Island, IL 61201
    Phone: (309) 732-7323
  • Charleston Carnegie Public Library
    712 Sixth St.
    Charleston, IL 61920
    Phone: (217) 345-4913
    Fax: (217) 348-5616
  • Chicago History Museum. (formerly Chicago Historical Society, Clark Street at North Avenue, Chicago 60614-6071). Houses about twenty million items -- photographs, drawings, diaries, letters, costumes, textiles, sound recordings, films, books, newspapers, and artifacts. A newspaper clipping file organized by surname and topic covers the 1930s to the present. The collections include materials from the Chicago Division of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters,1925-69; Illinois Manufacturers' Association, 1893-1986; and District 31 United Steelworkers of America, 1934-79. More than fifty-five thousand newspaper photographs online.
  • Chicago Public Library (404 State St. Chicago 60605) The official repository for city documents and ordinances, maintains clippings from forty newspapers dated 1956 to the present.
  • The Chicago Public Library's List of Illinois Colleges, Universities, and Libraries
  • Every Library in Illinois Directory - Connections to every public, private, and school library in the state.
  • Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.  The Agency operates over 60 historic sites and memorials. The Agency also administers the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The library is the state’s chief historical and genealogical research facility that is home to the state’s world-renowned Abraham Lincoln collection. The library houses the Agency's collection of more than 12 million items of Illinois history.
  • Family History Centers in Illinois - a listing and their phone numbers.
  • Illinois Digital Archives (IDA). Provides digital images of Illinois documents, historical books, journals, magazines, manuscripts, and monographs contributed by libraries statewide. Access is through "Find-It! Illinois."
  • Illinois Heritage Association - Help for Historic Preservation Projects and Questions
  • Illinois Historical Survey Library - on the U of I Champaign-Urbana campus on the 4th floor of the Main Library. This library has a large collection of Illinois materials including historical and genealogical. Visit the U of I Library Web Site to search for publications. There is also an excellent Map Library on the fourth floor of the Main Library. Of interest to genealogists are Grand Army of the Republic post records and registers of Baptist, Presbyterian, and Quaker churches.
  • Illinois Libraries With Genealogical Collections.  Springfield, IL : Illinois State Genealogical Society, 1992.
  • The Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD)
    IRAD Coordinator
    Illinois State Archives
    Margaret Cross Norton Building
    Capitol Complex
    Springfield, Illinois 62756
    - As part of the state archives system, seven regional depositories at state universities include archival material from 102 counties. The records include original local government records turned over to IRAD and microfilmed local government records as well. The amount of material in IRAD's collection varies from county to county. A printed version of the IRAD holdings is available in A Summary Guide to Local Governmental Records in the Illinois Regional Archives, 2d ed., 1999 and also on the Illinois State Archives website. The archives also has on their website a variety of research guides discussing county records in Illinois.
  • Illinois State Archives
    Margaret Cross Norton Building
    Archives Building
    Springfield, IL 62756
    Phone: (217) 782-4682
    Fax: (217) 524-3930
    Included in their extensive holdings are federal and state censuses, military records, land records, and other materials. Consult the Descriptive Inventory of the Archives of the State of Illinois, 2nd ed., Springfield, Illinois, 1991. You can also request the Genealogical Records and Mail Research Policy brochure from the archives. Its collections include published inventories and original records gathered by the Historical Records Survey, which located and described federal, state, county, municipal, and church archives throughout Illinois. ISA also holds historical records of state hospitals, penal institutions, and boards that regulate, examine, or license architects, barbers, dental examiners, mine operators, nurses, pharmacists, and veterinarians.

    ISA's Perrin collection contain miscellaneous court records, contracts, deeds, donations, marriages, and wills from old French Cahokia and early St. Clair County, for which a variety of finding aids and calendars are available. "Name Index to Early Illinois Records," on microfilm at the ISA and Family History Library in Salt Lake City, includes abstracts from parts of the Perrin collection. ISA produced a pamphlet series about its African American, census, death, land, military, and probate records.

    ISA's online databases include Illinois marriages (1763-1900), deaths (1877-1950), public land sales (from 1814) statewide, and Illinois war veterans (nineteenth-century) and veterans' home residents (twentieth-century).
  • Illinois State Archives - Main page
  • Illinois State Archives - Online Databases
  • The Illinois State Archives On-Line Reference Request Page
  • Illinois State Archives - Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database
  • Illinois State Archives - Statewide Marriage Index (1763 - 1900)
  • Illinois State Genealogical Society
    P.O. Box 10195
    Springfield, IL 62791
    - The organization publishes a newsletter and a quarterly, and is also involved in a variety of genealogical projects throughout the state. The society also sponsors the annual Genealogical Institute of Mid America, held annually each July on the campus of the University of Illinois-Springfield.
  • Illinois State Library (Gwendolyn Brooks Building, 300 South Second Street, Springfield 62701) Maintains a sizable map collection, largely available through interlibrary loan. It is a depository for federal and Illinois government publications, including those published with state funds by Illinois universities. ISL is the lending arm of ISA; the I-Share online catalog identifies its holdings.
  • LIBDEX: the Library Index
  • Newberry Library
    60 W. Walton St.
    Chicago, IL 60610-3394
    Phone: (312) 943-9090
    - The library has an especially strong Chicago area collection. It is a privately funded research library open to the public, focuses on genealogy. Its collection is nonci- The library has an especially strong Chicago area collection. It is a privately funded research library open to the public, focuses on genealogy. Its collection is noncirculating, but collection guides and "Quick Search" services for Chicago ward and enumeration district numbers, city directories, the Cook County birth and death index 1871-1916, obituaries from Chicago area newspapers before 1965, and a few church registers are available to genealogists by mail.
  • Southern Illinois University, Lovejoy Librarys and a special collection on Mormons.
  • State of Illinois Home Page - Link to Illinois libraries, and the ILLINET on line catalog.
  • U.S. National Archives Great Lakes Region
    7358 S. Pulaski Rd.
    Chicago, IL 60629
    Phone: (773) 581-7816
    Fax: (312) 353-1294
    Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Has more than sixty-four thousand cubic feet of historical records dating from 1800 to the 1980s, including records of U.S. District Courts and some eighty-five federal agencies. The staff provides limited assistance in some indexed collections, and researchers may visit in person. Print and online finding aids are available.
  • U. S. National Archives and Records Administration - Washington, DC
  • University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. (246A Main Library, 1408 West Gregory Drive, Urbana 61801) The holdings are catalogued in I-Share. Guides to dissertations on microfilm and special collections are available. Collections include civil War materials, several hundred dictionaries of German dialects, photographs of steamboats, and scrapbooks about river captains.

Additional Sources

  • Association of Illinois Museums and Historical Societies. Historical and Cultural Agencies and Museums in Illinois. Springfield, Illinois: Phillips Bros., 1993.