Illinois Newspapers

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Newspapers can be a valuable resource because they often publish marriage, divorce, death, and funeral notices as well as obituaries. The notices may include names, including maiden names and parent names, dates, and places. Death notices and obituaries often name living relatives.

Newspapers also publish articles of local interest that often cover religious and social events in the community and include the names of people involved. Some newspapers serve several communities and devote columns to the everyday happenings in the area. They also include legal notices, estate sales, and advertising for local businesses.

One strategy for using newspapers in research, is to select a time period for which your ancestor lived and begin by looking for obituaries as well as birth, marriage, and death notices. Read all the articles which were generated in the county where your ancestor lived, especially articles which give information about the church and schools where your ancestor may have attended.

Resources for Illinois Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Inventory on the Internet[edit | edit source]

  • Over 6,500 Illinois newspapers are cataloged on the Illinois Newspaper Project. The web site briefly lists the newspaper’s title, town, life span, and repositories researchers can contact to obtain further details. Ordering microfilm copies at your local library through interlibrary loan is generally very inexpensive ($5 - $10).
  • The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections (IDNC) website is an online archive of digitized historic newspapers and trade journals from Illinois and other parts of the United States. There are currently over 1,000,000 pages of newspaper content ranging from 1831-2011.
  • The U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present is a national directory from the Library of Congress of over 140,000 newspaper titles. The directory provides a list of libraries from around the country that have the newspapers in their collections.
  • The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library holds newspapers titles for all Illinois counties. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library was created in 1889 from the Illinois State Historical Library and was charged with the responsibility of collecting and preserving records which would be useful to the historian. Among its holdings are a noteworthy collection of newspapers. Microfilmed newspapers are available through interlibrary loan, or the Newspaper/Microfilm Department can do searches for a fee. An online obituary search is provided.
  • The University of Illnois at Urbana-Champaign has a Newspaper Database as well as a collection of Historical Newspapers.
  • Some library web pages offer a searchable index of births, marriages, and deaths mentioned in local newspapers. Digital images may or may not be linked to the index entry. The Quincy Public Library's Quincy Historic Newspaper Archive covers Quincy newspapers from 1835-1919, and includes digital images. The Urbana Free Library's Local History On-line includes indexed summary information gleaned from Champaign/Urbana newspapers, official Champaign County court records, and other local history resources. The Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin includes a vital records surname search as part of their Local Newspaper Index of events mentioned in the Courier News and Daily Herald.
  • Check to see if the community you are researching has a public library. Many listings include hot links to the library's web page.

Published Inventories[edit | edit source]

Digital Issues Online[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: List of online newspaper archives ($) has a large collection of Illinois newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries under the name Access NewspaperArchive.

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

  • Many periodicals publish information from newspapers. These are referenced in the "Places" section of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) described in the "Periodicals" section.
  • See the "Newspapers" and "Obituaries" Wiki articles for help in locating other newspapers in Illinois. See Illinois Obituaries for help in finding obituaries.
  • Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has volunteers who are willing to look up newspaper articles for many Illinois counties.
  • The FHL has very few Illinois newspapers. However, the library does have some transcripts for Chicago and Rock Island County.
  • Vital Records From Chicago Newspapers. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Genealogical Society, 1971–. Other Libraries (WorldCat) FHL film 844952 item 5; book 977.311 V2c. Includes Death, marriage, and birth announcements in Chicago newspapers from 1833 to 1848.
  • Chicago Marriage and Death Indexes. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1983. FHL film 1321939. Chicago, Illinois marriages from 1833 to 1871 and deaths from 1856-1889. These typescript indexes to marriage and death records from Chicago newspapers are also known as the Sam Fink Collection.
  • Pease, Janet K. Genealogical Abstracts From Rock Island County, Illinois, Newspapers.38 volumes. [Arvada, Colorado: Janet K. Pease]; Rock Island, Illinois: Blackhawk Genealogical Society, 1973–1995. film 928133 items 1-5 (first of 26 films); book 977.3393 B38p. Abstracts in 38 volumes for the years 1850 - 1906. Many volumes are on film only.
  • Ruth E. Browning abstracted names and events from The Christian Messenger and created an every– name index. The Christian Messenger was a religious newspaper during the 1800's which included "letters with information about the churches, obituaries, death notices, names of subscribers, letters from preachers, etc."[1]  The information abstracted from this newspaper came from numerous counties in Illinois.

Websites[edit | edit source]

  1. Ruth E. Browning, Name Index to the Christian Messenger at