Illinois Archives and Libraries

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Archives, libraries, societies, private enterprise, groups and individuals are posting records online at lightning speed. Still, vast collections of invaluable offline records are available for research through these facilities.

Most have online catalogs or published record-finding aids, such as guides to their own collections or inventories of records housed elsewhere. Archives and libraries located near state boundaries usually collect records relating to the adjacent states.

Many archives and libraries have resources such as maps, gazetteers, and other place-finding aids to help you locate information about Illinois. They may have collections of previous research, such as family and local histories and biographies. Many have record-finding aids such as guides to their own collections or inventories of records housed elsewhere in the state.

These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Illinois.

National[edit | edit source]

Allen County Public Library[edit | edit source]

Allen County Public Library 900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Telephone: 260-421-1225
Internet: Genealogy Center ACPL

Allen County Public Library.jpg
This is the second-largest genealogy collection in the United States[1] and the largest genealogy collection in a public library. Its holdings include more than 350,000 printed volumes and 513,000 items on microfilm and microfiche.[2] It has a premier genealogical periodical collection, local histories, genealogies, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, ethnic sources, and Canadians. They have a great Illinois collection.[3]

National Archives at Chicago[edit | edit source]

National Archives at Chicago

NARA Chicago.jpg

7358 S. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60629-5898
Phone: 773-948-9001
Fax: 773-948-9050
Internet: National Archives at Chicago

Includes federal censuses 1790–1930; selected military service indexes, pension indexes, passenger lists, and naturalizations. Free computers for Ancestry, Heritage Quest, or Fold3. Federal agency, civil, and criminal court records of Illinois and surrounding states.[4]

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center[edit | edit source]

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center.png

Denkman Memorial Library Augustana College
639 38th Street
Rock Island, IL 61201-2296
Telephone: 309-794-7204
Fax: 309-794-7443
Internet: Swenson Center Library

Nearly 20,000 volumes about the Swedish-American immigrant experience in North America, Swedish genealogy, and Swedish local history.[5]

Statewide[edit | edit source]

Illinois State Archives[edit | edit source]

Illinois State Archives.jpg

Illinois State Archives
Margret Cross Norton Building
Springfield, IL 62756
Phone: (217) 782-4682
Fax: (217) 524-3930
Internet: Illinois State Archives

Since the Illinois State Archives responds only by mail to inquiries, all fax, telephone, and e-mail inquiries must also contain a mailing address.
The Illinois State Archives preserves county and state records, including pre-Chicago fire documents. They have indexed vital records, early land grants, military records such as muster rolls and Civil War registers. All federal and state censuses are available. Their surname card index covers much of the collection.[6] A helpful guide to the holdings of the Illinois State Archives is:
  • Descriptive Inventory of the Archives of the State of Illinois [7] This source is also available on compact disc from the state archives. Internet Archives has a free copy available online.
  • Illinois Digital archives, Image collections arranged by subject.

Illinois State Library[edit | edit source]

Illinois State Library

Illinois State Library.jpg

Gwendolyn Brooks Building
300 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 785-5600
Internet: Illinois State Library

The Illinois State Library collects official publications of the state and federal governments. This includes federal censuses to 1920, plat books, Illinois county histories, Sanborn fire insurance maps, and Revolutionary War pensions and bounty land warrants.</ref>
Illinois Digital Archives The collection includes histories, manuscripts, letters, photographs, newspapers, maps and etc.

Illinois State Genealogical Society[edit | edit source]

Illinois State Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 10195
Springfield, IL 62791-0195
Phone: (217) 789-1968
Internet: Illinois State Genealogical Society

The ISGS can provide research guidance about Illinois resources and repositories, teach through webinars and the ISGS blog for free, and look-up death certificates 1916-1947 for a fee. They do not handle research requests.[8]

Illinois State Historical Society[edit | edit source]

Illinois State Historical Society
P.O. Box 1800
Springfield, IL 62705-1800
Phone: (217) 525-2781
Fax: (217) 525-2783
Internet: Illinois State Historical Society

The State Historical Society was formed to support the Historical Library (now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum). The Society is independent of the Library and State, but continue to promote research, writing, and study of Illinois history.
See Collections of the Illinois State Histoircal Society.

Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries[edit | edit source]

Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI)
100 Trade Centre Drive, Suite 303
Champaign, IL 61820-7233
Phone: (217) 244-7593 or (866) 904-5843
Internet: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI)

CARLI's Digital Collection links to 96 independent collections that are freely viewable by the general public–from an 1829 Alumni Catalog for Illinois College to 1837 snapshots of Chicago streets and everything in between.

IRAD System[edit | edit source]

Many Illinois local government records are housed in the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories system. By following the links below you can find which county records are held at each depository. In addition, the depository sites can help you discover other possible sources for records and information not available from IRAD.

You may visit an IRAD depository to research available records.  Because many of the depositories are associated with universities and observe university holidays, be sure to call before planning a visit. 

IRAD welcomes mail and telephone requests for research help.  No e-mail requests are available at this time.  There is no charge for research help, except for photocopy costs.  You will be informed if your copies exceed $5.  Otherwise you will be billed for your copy requests.  IRAD requests that you limit your request to 2 names at a time and that you wait for that response before submitting addtional requests.  Send your request directly to the IRAD regional depository holding the county records of interest. You may send requests to up to 5 different depositories at a time. 

IRAD Guides[edit | edit source]

Regional Map of IRAD Depositories  Click on the approprate region, then click on the county of interest for contact information, county formation, and other information about the county.  To search which county records are available in IRAD, from any IRAD page click on Local Governmental Records Holdings Database or link to it directly from here. Once on this page, by only entering the county name in the search box, you can see all IRAD holdings for any individual county.

See A Summary Guide to Local Governmental Records in the Illinois Regional Archives, available from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System.[9]

For more information about IRAD and the regional depositories see Illinois Regional Archives Depositories.

IRAD Locations[edit | edit source]

Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD)[edit | edit source]

Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD)
Archives Building
Springfield, IL 62756
Phone: (217) 785-1266
Internet: Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD)

Illinois regions.png

IRAD - Eastern Illinois University (EIU)
Booth Library
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
Phone: (217) 581-6093
Internet: Eastern Illinois University
Hours: Monday – Friday, except state holidays 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

EIU Region: Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Jasper, Lawrence, Moultrie, Richland, Shelby, Wabash, Wayne

IRAD - Illinois State University[edit | edit source]

IRAD - Illinois State University (ISU)
2016 Warehouse Road
Campus Box 1520
Normal, IL 61790-1520
Phone: (309) 452-6027
Internet: Illinois State University
Hours: Monday – Friday, except state holidays 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

ISU Region: Champaign, DeWitt, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Livingston, Logan, Marshall, McLean, Piatt, Tazewell, Vermillion, Woodford

IRAD - Northeastern Illinois University[edit | edit source]

IRAD - Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)
Ronald Williams Library
5500 N. St. Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-4699
Phone: (773) 442-4506
Internet: Northeastern Illinois University
Hours: Monday – Friday, except state holidays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

NEIU Region: Cook and City of Chicago

IRAD - Southern Illinois University[edit | edit source]

IRAD - Southern Illinois University (SIU)
c/o Special Collections
Morris Library – 6632
Carbondale, IL 62901-6632
Phone: (618) 453-3040
Internet: Southern Illinois University
Hours: Monday – Friday, except state holidays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

SIU Region: Alexander, Clinton, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Saline, Union, Washington, White, Williamson

IRAD - Northern Illinois University[edit | edit source]

IRAD - Northern Illinois University (NIU)
c/o Regional History Center
Founders Memorial Library, Room 400
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: (815) 753-1807
Internet: Northern Illinois University
Hours: Monday – Friday, except state holidays 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

NIU Region: Boone, Bureau, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, JoDaviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago

IRAD - University of Illinois at Springfield[edit | edit source]

IRAD - University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS)
LIB 144
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
Phone: (217) 206-6520
Internet: University of Illinois at Springfield
Hours: Monday – Friday, except state holidays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

UIS Region: Bond, Cass, Christian, Fayette, Greene, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Sangamon, Scott

IRAD - Western Illinois University[edit | edit source]

IRAD - Western Illinois University (WIU)
University Library
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: (309) 298-2716
Internet: Western Illinois University
Hours: Monday – Friday, except state holidays 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

WIU Region: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, McDonough, Mercer, Peoria, Pike, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Warren

Regional[edit | edit source]

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum[edit | edit source]

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Lincoln Museum.jpg

112 N. Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (800) 610-2094 or (217) 782-5764
Internet: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Holdings include: family genealogies; oral histories; county histories; cemetery inscriptions; atlases and plat books; indexes and transcriptions of census, vital records, and naturalization records for many counties. Records of the Grand Army of the Republic , the Civil War Union veteran's society, are also included. The online collection has a statewide obituary search for newspapers held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.[10]

Arlington Heights Memorial Library[edit | edit source]

Arlington Heights Memorial Library

Arlington Heights Memorial Library.jpg

500 N Dunton Ave
Arlington Heights, IL 60004-5910
Phone: (847) 392-0100
Fax: (847) 506-2650
Internet: Genealogy and Local History

The local history and genealogy collection here is huge. They have printed genealogies, manuscripts, periodicals, newspapers, special aids, surname folders and a great overall genealogy collection.[11]

Chicago History Museum[edit | edit source]

Chicago History Museum

Chicago History Museum.JPG

1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (312) 642-4600
Fax: (312) 266-2077
Internet: Chicago History Museum

Formerly known as the Chicago Historical Society, their archives hold more than 20 million manuscripts such as letters, account books, certificates, diaries, genealogical charts, journals, licenses, log books, membership lists, memoirs, minutes, muster rolls, research notes, scrapbooks, sermons, speeches, subscription lists, and telegrams. They are strong in U.S. history through the American Civil War, especially in early Chicago history and social conditions.[11]

Chicago Title and Trust[edit | edit source]

Chicago Title and Trust

Chicago Title and Trust Building.jpg

171 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60601 USA
Phone: (312) 223-2000
Fax: (312) 223-2942
Internet: Chicago Title and Trust Company

For a fee they will search property records prior to the Chicago fire.[11]

John A. Logan College Library[edit | edit source]

John A. Logan College Library
700 Logan College Road
Carterville, Illinois 62918 USA
Phone: (618) 985-3741
E-mail: E-mail a question form
Internet: John A. Logan College Library

This library is a focal point of Southern Illinois genealogy. Their collection is huge.</ref>

Lincoln Library[edit | edit source]

Lincoln Library
326 S 7th Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701 USA
Phone: (217) 753-4900 x234
Fax: (217) 753-4905
Internet: Lincoln Library: the Public Library of Springfield, Illinois

They have indexed obituaries from the Illinois State Journal from 1861-1934 and 1959 to now. All Springfield city directories are here. The Sangamon Valley Collection has resources (photos, directories, yearbooks, histories, maps) for studying Sangamon and nearby counties.</ref>

Newberry Library[edit | edit source]

Newberry Library

Newberry Library.jpg

60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Telephone: 312-255-3512
Email: Contact a Librarian form
Internet: Newberry Library

A large Chicago repository with genealogies, local histories, censuses, military, land, indexes, vital records, court, and tax records many from Illinois, the Mississippi Valley, eastern seaboard, Canada, and the British Isles.[12] They have over 17,000 printed genealogies. The collection is noteworthy for its colonial America, especially New England holdings. They have church, town, and county histories from all parts of the United States, Canada, and the British Isles. This includes a comprehensive set of New England town histories, and strong collection of county histories from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. Their Civil War unit histories collection is one of the best.[11] This library has research guides on various subjects related to genealogy and library holdings cataloged from 1978.  See
  • Genealogy Collection Guides and Research Tools for more information about the collections. 
  • A surname index to genealogical periodicals and local history books in the Newberry Library was completed in 1915 and published as The Genealogical Index of the Newberry Library[13] Since this index is old, be sure to use the online guide sheet to this collection before using the source.

Peoria Public Library[edit | edit source]

Peoria Public Library

Peoria Public Library.jpg

107 NE Monroe St.
Peoria, IL 61602-1070
Phone: (309) 672-8835
E-mail: Ask a librarian.
Internet: Local History and Genealogy Collection

They enjoy a large genealogy and local history department, including many indexes, DAR files, and basic genealogy resources for the plains states.</ref>

Pritzker Military Museum and Library[edit | edit source]

Pritzker Military Museum and Library

Pritzker Military Museum and Library.jpg

104 S. Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
Telephone: (312) 374-9333
Fax:(312) 374-9314
E-mail: Ask a reference question
Internet: Pritzker Military Museum and Library

The research library has 45,000 books on military history including numerous unit histories, photos, uniforms, equipment, insignia, and ships for many of the world's militaries. They help genealogists.[14]

South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society[edit | edit source]

South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society
3000 W. 170th Place
Hazel Crest, Illinois 60429-1175 USA
Phone: (708) 335-3340
Internet: South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society

This is a very good genealogical collection with local histories, genealogies, naturalization records, Pullman Car Works personnel records, obituary files, and church histories.[11]

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Lovejoy Library[edit | edit source]

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Lovejoy Library
30 Hairpin Drive
Edwardsville, IL 62026 USA
Phone: (618) 650-4636
Internet: Library and Information Services

This is the best library in southern Illinois. They have a large genealogical collection including newspapers, biographies, county histories, family folders, and maps.</ref>

University of Chicago Library[edit | edit source]

University of Chicago Library

Harper Library, interior, University of Chicago.jpg

1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1502
Phone: (773) 702-4085
E-mail: Ask a librarian form
Internet: The University of Chicago Library

This library has plentiful historical records. Noteworthy is the Durrett Collection  of historical Kentucky and Ohio River Valley manuscripts. The size and content of this collection is comparable to the Draper Manuscript Collection. It includes the earliest people in the Ohio Valley.[11]

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Main Library[edit | edit source]

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Main Library

MainLibrary Urbana Illinois 4582.jpg

1408 W. Gregory Dr
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 333-2290
E-mail: Ask a librarian e-mail form
Internet: University Library

One of the best book collections in America, including county histories, and farmers registers. Think of it as another archives for Illinois.</ref>

Urbana Free Library[edit | edit source]

Urbana Free Library

Peoria Public Library.jpg

210 West Green Street
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Phone: (217) 367-4057
Fax: (217) 367-4061
Internet: The Urbana Free Library

Their strength is Champaign County history, but they have good basic genealogy for the entire United States including printed genealogies, manuscripts, family folders, and microfilms.</ref>

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of FamilySearch and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. There are many centers located in Illinois. Their goal is to provide resources to assist you in the research and study of your genealogy and family history by:

  • Giving personal one-on-one assistance to guests
  • Providing access to genealogical records through the Internet.
  • Offering free how-to classes (varies by location).

To find the nearest Family History Center:

  • Click on Find a Family History Center. Type your city and state in the search box, then tap [Enter]. A map showing nearby centers will appear. Click a FamilySearch Center icon on the map to view its address, phone, and hours.

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

Directory[edit | edit source]

Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of many Illinois archives, libraries, and genealogical and historical societies are listed in:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Allen County Public Library in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 28 April 2010).
  2. Genealogy Center in Allen County Public Library (accessed 28 April 2010).
  3. Genealogy Center Collections in Genealogy Center (accessed 27 February 2015).
  4. Genealogy in National Archives at Chicago (accessed 27 February 2014).
  5. Swenson Center Library in Augustana College (accessed 20 March 2015).
  6. William Dollarhide, and Ronald A. Bremer, America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1988), 41. At various repositories (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J54d.
  7. Bailey, Robert E., and Elaine Shemoney Evans, eds. Descriptive Inventory of the Archives of the State of Illinois. 2nd ed. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Archives, 1997. WorldCat 678163486 FHL book 977.3 J53ir
  8. Genealogy Committee in Illinois State Genealogical Society (accessed 21 March 2015).
  9. Bailey, Robert E., et al., eds. A Summary Guide to Local Governmental Records in the Illinois Regional Archives. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Archives, 1992. WorldCat 26342080 FHL Book 977.356/S1 J53s.
  10. Printed Materials in Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (accessed 7 April 2015).
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Dollarhide and Bremer, 39.
  12. Genealogy and Local History in The Newberry (accessed 27 February 2015).
  13. The Genealogical Index of the Newberry Library. Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall, 1960. WorldCat 83367401 FHL films 928135–928137 and FHL book 973 D22n vols. 1–4
  14. Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 30 March 2015).