Newspapers publish marriage, divorce, death, and funeral notices, and obituaries. Notices include names, dates, and places. Marriage and death notices may contain maiden names and names of parents and other 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. Newspapers 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
Inventory on the Internet
- 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 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 it's 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 PublicLibraries.com to see if the community you are researching has a public library. Many listings include hot links to the library's web page.
- A list of newspapers in existance during the 1800's is found at19th Century Illinois Newspapers
- Newspapers in the Illinois State Historical Library. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Historical Library, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 1998. Other Libraries (WorldCat)FHL book 977.3 J53n) Most libraries in Illinois receive copies of this inventory; it is not available to individuals.
- Newspapers in the Illinois State Historical Library. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Library, 1964 and 1970. FHL fiche 6125938-39
- Illinois Libraries Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Library, 1955–. Other Libraries (WorldCat) FHL book 977.356/S1 A35i and selected volumes on 4 fiche beginning with FHL fiche 6125940 (first of 7 fiche)
- Scott, Franklin William Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814–1879. Springfield, Illinois: Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1910. Other Libraries (WorldCat) FHL book 977.3 B4i, vol.6; FHL film 1697636 item 2. A full view copy of this book is available on Google Book Search as well as on Internet Archive.
- James, Edmund Janes A Bibliography of newspapers published in Illinois prior to 1860 (1899). Springfield, Illinois: Phillips Bros. State Printers. A full view copy of this book is found at Internet Archive (free). Other Libraries (WorldCat)
- Boss, Henry Rush Early newspapers in Illinois: read before the Franklin Society of the City of Chicago (1870). Chicago: Franklin Society. A full view copy of this book is found at Internet Archive (free). Other Libraries (WorldCat)
Digital Issues Online
NewspaperArchive.org ($) has a large collection of Illinois newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries under the name Access NewspaperArchive.
- 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.
- More resources on local Illinois newspapers may be found in the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC)and at Worldcat.org. Explore how to search the FHLC and Worldcat.org. It is usually best to start with a search at a local level such as city or town and then to try county or state.
- http://newspaperarchive.org/ ($)
- http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/ ($)