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.
The larger cities in Illinois began publishing newspapers in the 1830s through 1850s.
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).
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.
The best collection of Illinois newspapers is held by the Illinois State Historical Library. Microfilmed newspapers are available through interlibrary loan, or the Newspaper/Microfilm Department can do searches for a fee. For inventories of newspaper collections, see:
- 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
- Illinois Libraries. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Library, 1955–. 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. (Family History Library book FHL book 977.3 B4i, vol.6; film FHL film 1697636 item 2. A full view copy of this book is available on Google Book Search: Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879.
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.
- Many periodicals publish information from newspapers. These are referenced in the "Places" section of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) described in the "Periodicals" section.
- You can find more resources for local Illinois newspapers in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:
ILLINOIS, [COUNTY], NEWSPAPERS
ILLINOIS, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- NEWSPAPERS
- http://newspaperarchive.org/ ($)
- http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/ ($)