African-American Resources for Illinois

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The Great Migration of African Americans brought many from the rural South to Chicago. Most came from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  By 2008, 15.0% of the population in Illinois was African American, with the majority living within the city of Chicago and the surrounding areas. 

Slavery was banned by 1818 when Illinois became a state, though the southern part continued to allow slavery for several more years.  This part, called "Little Egypt", was mostly settled by Southerners.   By 1853 laws were passed prohibiting all African Americans, including freedmen, from settling in the state.  This eventually changed after the Civil War.

In October 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed many buildings and records.

The following have information concerning African American research. 

Springfield Illinois African American History Foundation
883 Roanoke Drive, Springfield, IL, 62702
Tel: 217-698-6339

African Americans in Illinois Places Other Than Chicago has links to library catalogs with African American collections.


  • The Black Women in the Middle West Project: a Comprehensive Resource Guide, Illinois and Indiana; Historical Essays, Oral Histories, Biographical Profiles, and Document Collections, by Darlene Clark HIne.  It can be read at the Family History Library and many libraries here.
  • The Black Civil War Soldiers of Illinois: the Story of the Twenty-Ninth U.S. Colored Infantry, by Edward A. Miller.  It can be read on Google Books, at the Family History Library and many libraries.