Large companies sometimes preserved records about their employees. These records usually contain hiring and termination details and may include biographical data about the employees and possibly their families. If a company where your ancestor worked is still in business, it may allow limited access to its historical employee records.
Few employee records have been made public. Below are some that are available for Illinois.
Farming is one of the major occupations in Illinois. Farmers' directories were published occasionally. Local farmers' associations may have kept membership records with biographical information. Farms that have been owned by the same family for 100 years or longer are called "Centennial Farms." See:
- Illinois Centennial Farm Heritage Association. The History of Illinois Centennial Farms. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media, 1986. This book gives a short history of farming in Illinois and contains family histories and property descriptions of the centennial farms. Many libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 977.3 D2h
- Crossley, Frederic Bears. Courts and Lawyers. Three Volumes. Chicago, Illinois: American Historical Society, 1916. This work gives a brief history of the court system in Illinois and biographical sketches of those who affected the history of the courts and those who were part of the bar about 1916.Many libraries (WorldCat); FHL film 934965; book 977.3 D3c
- Livingston,John, et al. "List of Lawyers in Illinois," in Law Register..... New York: Monthly Law Magazine, 1851. Viewable online at Google Books.
The Illinois State Archives and IRAD depositories have registers of those serving in medical professions, including physicians, midwives, veterinarians, dentists, optometrists, nurses, and surgeons. Search their holdings by county.
For state employees from 1921 and later, see:
- Illinois Secretary of State. Blue Book of the State of Illinois. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois Secretary of State, 1903–. FHL book 977.3 N2ib Additional years available at many libraries (WorldCat).
Pullman Car Workers
Pullman Car Works (Pullman, Illinois). Employee Records, ca. 1900–1949. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1993–94. These records include employment index cards (which contain hiring and termination dates) and service forms (which contain dates and places of birth as well as information on previous employment) for about 200,000 employees who worked in the Pullman car plant. FHL film 1908114 (first of 68 films) (Not available at Family History Centers.)
It is usually best to start searches for occupations at the city or county level. Links to county pages appear below. Additional resources for Illinois occupations may be found in the Illinois-Occupations or Illinois-Officials and employees topic pages of the Family History Library catalog (FHLC). Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at FamilySearch Centers. Explore how to search the FHLC.