Illinois Search Strategies

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Illinois  Gotoarrow.png  Search Strategies

This set of Wiki pages describes major sources of information about families from Illinois. As you read the Illinois Wiki pages, also study the United States Wiki pages, which will help you understand terminology and the contents and uses of genealogical records.

Records of the Family History Library

The Family History Library has many of the records described in this set of Wiki pages. The major holdings of Illinois records include censuses and county courthouse records, such as probate, land, military, naturalization, and vital records of most counties. They generally date from the year the county was formed to the early 1900s, although some indexes for later years are available.

The library has acquired many printed transcripts and indexes of Illinois county records, as well as copies of census and biographical indexes found at the Illinois State Archives. The Family History Library also has some important collections and indexes for records of the city of Chicago and Cook County. Only a few sources are mentioned specifically in these Wiki pages.

Many early records of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in the city of Nauvoo and Hancock County are mentioned in the Tracing LDS Families Wiki pages.

Most of the sources described in the Illinois Wiki pages list the Family History Library’s book, microfilm, microfiche, and compact disc numbers. These are preceded by FHL, the abbreviation for Family History Library. These numbers may be used to locate materials in the Family History Library and to order microfilm and microfiche at Family History Centers.

The computer Internet is growing in importance to genealogists. Sources found on the Internet are cited in these Wiki pages with blue links to each.


FamilySearch at Family History Centers. FamilySearch is a collection of computer files containing millions of names. FamilySearch is a good place to begin your family history research. Some of the records come from compiled sources, and some have been extracted from original sources. The Family History Library and many Family History Centers have computers with FamilySearch.

Family History Library and Family History Center computers with FamilySearch have access to the Internet, computer on-line services, networks, or bulletin boards. Those services are also available at many public libraries, college libraries, and private locations. Limited access to the Internet is available on a few computers in the Automated Resource Center in the Family History Library.

FamilySearch™ Internet Genealogy Service. The Internet site at allows you to preserve your genealogy, order Family History Library publications, learn research strategies, and look for information about your ancestors in the following resources:

  • Ancestral File, a file of over 35 million names organized into families and pedigrees.
  • International Genealogical Index, an index of over 600 million names extracted out of vital records primarily from the British Isles, North America, and northern Europe.
  • Family History Library Catalog, a description and classification of over 2 million microfilm reels, and hundreds of thousands of genealogical books. You can search the catalog by family name, locality, author, or book or film number.
  • FamilySearch Research Wiki, how-to advice by the genealogical community for the community.

Family History Library Catalog

The library’s records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog available at the library and at each Family History Center, and on the Internet at: To find a record in the Family History Library Catalog, look in the Place Search for:

  • The place where your ancestor lived:
  • The record type you want, such as:

The page titles in these Wiki pages match the names of record types (subject headings) used in the Family History Library Catalog.