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
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
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. Available at many libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 977.3 D27i.
- Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, ed. Illinois' German Heritage. Milford, Ohio: Little Miami Pub. Co., 2005. Available at many libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 977.3 F2t.
- Irish American Heritage Center
4626 North Knox Avenue
Chicago, IL 60630
- Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois
P.O. Box 515
Northbrook, IL 60056-0515
Telephone: (312) 666-0100
- Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
610 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
Telephone: (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
Telephone: (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 is about early Norwegian settlers. FHL Collection
There were Norwegian communities in Boone County and Kendall County. Stimes' article Long Prairie Norwegian Farm Families in Boone County in 1870 demonstrates how to trace 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 U.S. 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)
- 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
Telephone: (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; 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 in:
- 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.