Illinois Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups
Records and histories of minorities and ethnic groups may provide clues to immigrant origins, migration information and previous residences. See United States Minorities for further sources on ethnic, racial, and religious groups.
Ethnic Research in Illinois
You can find information on ethnic ancestors in most of the same records as other groups. Start your research in the same resources you would search for non-ethnic ancestors. The records listed on this page provide information about specific groups in Illinois.
Additional resources for Illinois ethnic groups may be found in the Illinois-Minorities topic page of the Family History Library catalog (FHLC). Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at FamilySearch Centers. Also find Illinois ethnic resources available at many libraries (WorldCat). Explore how to search WorldCat and the FHLC.
Some sources for early settlers of Kaskaskia and other French areas of Illinois are described in Illinois History.
Some African-Americans may be listed in the comprehensive index of servitude and emancipation records at the Illinois State Archives. These records are also available in IRAD depositories. See also the following sources:
- Tregillis, Helen Cox, comp. River Roads to Freedom: Fugitive Slave Notices and Sheriff Notices Found in Illinois Sources. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1988. The information was obtained from newspaper microfilm available at the Illinois State Historical Library. Available at many libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 977.3 H6t
- Hodges, Carl G., and Helene H. Levene, comps. Illinois Negro Historymakers. Chicago: Illinois Emancipation Centennial Commission, 1964. Available at many libraries (WorldCat); FHL film 982206 Item 5; book 977.3 A1 no. 15.
For further information, see: Illinois African Americans.
- Illinois State Archives Servitude and Emancipation Records Database (1722–1863) includes names of African American servants, slaves, or free persons from selected governmental records. A full description of this database can be found here.
- African-American Genealogy (Newberry Library) includes research guides, periodicals, and genealogical records.
- Illinois State Archives: African-American Records. In addition to the servitude records mentioned above, this site provides research guidance, military databases, and record descriptions.
- Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature has digital collections as well as archival collections.
- Mapping the Stacks: A guide to Black Chicago's Hidden Archives is a plan to identify and organize the collections of Black Chicago. Finding aids are included.
The most prominent Indian tribes in Illinois were the Illinois, Miami, Winnebago, Fox and Sacs (Sauk), Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie tribes. Most of these tribes were eliminated from Illinois by about the mid-nineteenth century either through warfare or resettlement to other territories by the federal government. See Illinois American Indians for additional information on tribes, reservations, agencies, and resources.
- Center for Belgian Culture
712 18th Ave.
Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 762-0167
Czech and Slovak
The Paul M Nemecek Research Library of the Czech & Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois (CSAGSI) offers an extensive ethnic collection, especially for Chicago and Cook County.
- The CSAGSI Library is in the
T.G. Masaryk School
5701 22nd Place
Cicero, IL 60804
CSAGSI publishes a quarterly journal, Koreny (Roots) FHL book 977.3 H25k
German Newspapers in Illinois available at Chronicling America,
Foreign Language Press Survey is collection of translated newspaper articles - many of which are German.
Karen's Gen website has many records for Germans who settled just south of Chicago.
Brinkman, Michael. Quincy, Illinois, immigrants from Munsterland, Westphalia, Germany. Westminster, Maryland: Heritage Books, 2010. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat) and FHL book 977.344/Q1 W2b, 2 vols.
Deitrich, Julius. Bloomington’s Deutsche in Wort und Bild = Bloomington’s German Population in Word and Picture. Normal, Illinois: McLean County Genealogical Society, 1993. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat) and FHL book 977.359/B1 F2d
Holtschlag, Lester and Kimbrough, Lenore, translators. Bornmann’s Sketches of Germans in Quincy and Adams County. Quincy, Illinois, Great River Genealogical Society, 1999. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat)
LaSalle County Historical Society, Genealogy Guild. LaSalle County Cemeteries : St. Joseph's Cemetery, Bureau County, Illinois. Ottawa, Illinois: LaSalle County Genealogical Guild, 1991. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat) and FHL book 977.3372/S1 V3L
Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, ed. Illinois’ German Heritage. Milford, Ohio: Little Miami Pub. Co., 2005. This is the most exceptional resources for Germans in Illinois. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat)
Woodruff, George, H., William Henry Perrin, & W. Le Baron Jr. The History of Will County, Illinois. W. Le Baron, Jr., Co., 1878. FHL book Digital Version
von Roeder, Flora. Deep in the Heart of America: A Chronology of six German Immigrant Lines to St. Clair County, Illinois. Houston, Texas: F. von Foeder, 1995. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat) and FHL book 929.273 G55v
Don Heinrich Tolzmann, “The German Heritage of Southern Illinois and Missouri,” The Palatine Immigrant.
Kircher, Henry A. and Hess, Earl J. A German in the Yankee Fatherland: the Civil War letters of Henry A. Kircher. Kent, Ohio, Kent State University Press, 1983. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat)
Freund, Hanns Egon. Emigration Records from the German Eifel Region 1834-1911. Crystal Lake, Illinois: McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society, 1991. This has a focus of emigrants whose final destinations were Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat) and FHL book 977 W2f
Klotz, Jane Smithenry. Immigrants from Mernes, Germany to Indiana and Illinois. Indianapolis, Indiana: J.S. Klotz, 1993. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat)
Marxkors, Heinz, compiler. Emigrants from the former Counties of Büren and Paderborn in the former Province of Westphalia in the former Kingdom of Prussia emigrated to St. Libory, St. Clair County, State of Illinois. Bielefeld, Germany: H. Marxkors, 2004. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat)
This is a wonderful resource for St. Clair County, Illinois and discusses St. Louis, Missouri historical associations.
Cunningham, Julie. LaBounty, William, editor.Church Book for German Evangelical Lutheran: Combined Friedens Church, Bloomington, Illinois. Normal, Illinois: McLean County Genealogical Society, 1995. Available at: Various Libraries (WorldCat) and ((FHL|828906|item|disp=FHL book 977.359/B1 K2c}}
The Early German Churches of Illinois publication coupled with the Illinois, Diocese of Belleville, Catholic Parish Records 1729-1956 <https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://www.familysearch.org/searchapi/search/collection/1388122> can be of assistance in establishing time-lines for Germans in Illinois.
Mintert, Roger P., editor. German Immigrants in American Church Records, Volume 10: Illinois North Protestant. 10 Volumes. Rockland, Maine: Picton Press, 2011.
Randolph County Genealogical Society, compiler. The German English Lutheran Zion Congregation at Blair, Randolph County, Illinois, translated from the German Church Records. Chester, Illinois: Randolph County Genealogical Society, unknown date. Available at < http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/48778461>
Schmidt, Martha Mae and Elsa E. History, Church Records, and Cemetery Burials of St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Lenzburg, IL 62255, 1878-1978. Marissa, Illinois: M.M. Schmidt, 1977. Available at < http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/12557826>
Stopp, Klaus. The Printed Birth and Baptismal Certificates of the German Americans. Six Volumes, Volume VI has Illinois entries. Mainz, Germany and East Berlin, Pennsylvania: The Author, 1998. Limited printing, available at < http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/48576724> FHL Book <https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/show?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fcatalog-search-api%3A8080%2Fwww-catalogapi-webservice%2Fitem%2F663689 >
Wendelin History Book Committee, compiler. Holy Cross Church, 1871-1996, Wendelin, Illinois. Wendelin, Illinois: Wendelin History Book Committee, 1996. Digital Copy available at < https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE922002>
German Press Club of Chicago < http://flps.newberry.org/article/5418474_8_0530>
Harzig, Christiane. Peasant Maids-City Women: from the European Countryside to Urban America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997. Available at < http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/36407723>
Keil, Hartmut and Jentz, John B., editors. German Workers in Chicago: A Documentary History of Working-class Culture from 1850 to World War I. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. Available at < http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/15589748>
Lundberg, Gertrude W., compiler. Some German Name Cemeteries, Cook County, Illinois. Glenview, Illinois: The Compiler, 1967. If entries are found, they can be looked up in the Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 database at < https://familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://familysearch.org/searchapi/search/collection/1463134>
Northern Illinois Chapter American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, compiler. Germans from Russia: Death extractions, years 1914-1915;from the John V. May Funeral Home, Chicago, Illinois. Palatine, Illinois: The Northern Illinois Chapter American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1997. Available at < http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/38077026>
Szucs, Loretto Dennis. Chicago & Cook County: A Guide to Research. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1996. Pages 253-264 discuss resources and provide a tutorial.
If searching for German origins of ancestors who came to Chicago, the records of the German Aid Society of Chicago (Deutsche Gesellschaft) may be the key. Records from 1878-1977 include surviving applications and case histories and are housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60607-7113
Telephone: (312) 996-7000
Illinois Chapter, Palatines to America, is a resource for searching your Illinois German-speaking ancestors. They publish six newsletters a year.
- Palatines to America - Illinois Chapter
P O Box 9638
Peoria, IL 61612-9638
- Otto, Ronald L. ed. Illinois German-Americana Genealogical Sources. Two Volumes. Quincy, Illinois: Illinois Chapter, Palatines to America, 1990–92. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL FHL Book 977.3 D27i.
- Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, ed. Illinois' German Heritage. Milford, Ohio: Little Miami Pub. Co., 2005. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 977.3 F2t.
- Irish American Heritage Center
4626 North Knox Avenue
Chicago, IL 60630
Phone: (773) 282-7035
- Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois
P.O. Box 515
Northbrook, IL 60056-0515
Phone: (312) 666-0100
- Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
610 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: (312) 322-1700
- Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture
6500 S. Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629
This museum is a repository of publications and artifacts of Lithuanian immigrants.
- Death Notices From Lithuanian Newspapers. Chicago, Illinois: Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture; Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1979. This is a microfilm of a card file of obituaries (1900–1979) from newspapers worldwide. It is not available at Family History Centers. FHL films 1206173–1206179
Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society
675 State Route 116
Metamora, IL 61548-7732
Phone: (309) 367-2551
The Library collection includes holdings in genealogy and Anabaptist history for research.
- Strand, A.E., compiler and editor.A History of the Norwegians of Illinois....Chicago, Illinois: J. Anderson Pub., 1905. This book, about early Norwegian settlers, can be viewed online. FHL Collection
There were Norwegian communities in Boone County and Kendall County. Alfred G. Stimes' article Long Prairie Norwegian Farm Families in Boone County in 1870 lists Norwegians whose names were changed in America. Index to Norwegian Immigration includes history, church records, and family group records of Norwegians in Kendall County.
- Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA)
984 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
In addition to a wealth of historical information about Polish ancestry, culture, and immigration, the PGSA has a number of free databases specific to Chicago research. Membership entitles you to additional access to some databases.
Haller's Army: During World War I, soldiers for the Polish army in France, commonly called Haller’s Army, were recruited among Poles living in the United States. Two forms that contain genealogical information were filled out by the recruits. Form A contains the volunteer’s name, address, and marital status; the number of children he had; how his family would be supported if he was accepted into service; whether or not he was a U.S. citizen; his age, physical description, and signature; the recruiting station; and the date. Form C contains additional information, such as the volunteer’s date and place of birth; the address of his closest relative in America and in Poland; his previous military service; and remarks. All volumes of the collection are available through PGSA at the above address.
- Haller’s Army Index Searchable by surname and first name, the index shows the volunteer’s surname and given name, the town and state where he volunteered, his form (A or C described above, or L, that is, loose papers), and page number.
- United States (with Some from Ontario, Canada) Recruits for the Polish Army in France, 1917–1919.... Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995. A microfilm copy of Form A records only. The forms are in Polish, but at the beginning of each film is a blank form printed in English. There is an alphabetical list of volunteers for each item.FHL film 1993525 (first of 11 films)
- Haller's Army wiki page with more information.
- Langum, David J. António de Mattos and the Protestant Portuguese Community in Antebellum Illinois. Jacksonville, Illinois: Morgan County Historical Society, 2006. Available at many libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 921.73 D392L.
- Swenson Swedish Immigration Center
639 38th Street
Rock Island, IL 61201-2296
Phone: (309) 794-7204
Offers Swedish immigration and genealogical research, their quarterly publication Swedish American Genealogist, and workshops.
- The Swedish-American Historical Society
3225 W. Foster Ave, Box 48
Chicago, IL 60625
Phone: (773) 583-5722
Also houses the Swedish-American Archives of Greater Chicago
- Swedish American Museum
5211 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640
- Olson, Ernst Wilhelm. History of the Swedes of Illinois. Tucson, Arizon : Filmed by W.C. Cox Co., 1974; original published: Chicago [Illinois]: Engberg Holmberg Pub. Co., 1908. Available at many libraries (WorldCat); FHL film 934968 item 1 (can be viewed online); Ancestry ($).
Multiple Ethnic Groups
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
has materials on various ethnic groups and ethnic migration patterns as well as a collection of interviews conducted by the Springfield African-American History Foundation. Search the card catalog.
- Linkpendium links for Ethnic resources - Free
A brief history of ethnic groups and a bibliography of literature on German, French, British, Irish, Scandinavian, and Swiss immigrants can be found in:
- Wyman, Mark. Immigration History and Ethnicity in Illinois: A Guide. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Historical Society, 19–?. Many libraries (WorldCat) FHL book 977.3 A1 no.293
Ethnic organizations and societies may suggest additional avenues of research for specific ethnic groups. Addresses and information for ethnic societies can be found as follows:
- Wynar, Lubomyr Roman. Encyclopedic Directory of Ethnic Organizations in the United States. Littleton, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1975. Available at many libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 305.8 W99e.
- "Immigration," Rock Island County Illinois Genealogy, The ILGenWeb Project, http://rockisland.genwebsite.org/, accessed 12 July 2011.