Illinois Newspapers

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United States Gotoarrow.png Illinois Gotoarrow.png Illinois Newspapers
Chicago Herald Examiner.JPG

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.

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 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.
  • 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

  • Newspapers in the Illinois State Historical Library. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Historical Library, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 1998. 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
  • 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).
  • 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).

Additional Resources

  • Many periodicals publish information from newspapers. These are referenced in the "Places" section of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) described in the "Periodicals" section.
  • 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–. 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.
  • You can find more resources for local Illinois newspapers in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:

ILLINOIS, [Name of County], [Name of Town]- NEWSPAPERS