Genealogical, historical, lineage, veteran, and ethnic societies often collect, transcribe, and publish information that can be helpful to genealogists.
Lineage societies, such as the DAR, Colonial Dames, and the Sons of the American Revolution, require members to prove they are descended from people such as colonists or soldiers. The applications for membership in these societies are usually preserved and occasionally published. National lineage societies such as the DAR are described in United States Societies.
Genealogical and historical societies can provide historical information about families in the area or ancestors of society members. They may sponsor such activities as The History of Illinois Centennial Farms and Applications for Illinois Prairie Pioneer Certificates, cited in the "Genealogy" section.
Most genealogical societies focus on local and regional records, while others concentrate on the records and migrations of ethnic groups or minorities.
Societies may guide you to useful sources, suggest avenues of research, put you in touch with other genealogists who are interested in the same families, or perform research for you. The resources of the society may be helpful in determining immigrant origins. Genealogical and historical societies occasionally publish transcriptions of original records. Most publish quarterly periodicals, a few of which are listed in the "Periodicals" section.
Some genealogical and historical societies hold conferences in which lecturers discuss genealogical research methods, available sources, and other topics of interest to the genealogist. These lectures may include information on records or research helps on a local, regional, or national level. Transcripts, audio tapes, or syllabuses of the class outlines of these conferences are often made available to the public through the sponsoring society.
Many counties and some cities have historical and genealogical societies, most of which will be listed in the Directory of Illinois Museums and the book by Reithmaier, both cited in Illinois Archives and Libraries. See United States Societies for a national directory of genealogical and ethnic societies. Also see Illinois Ethnic Groups for additional ethnic organizations.
- Illinois State Genealogical Society
Illinois State Archives Building, 2nd Floor
Norton Building Capitol Complex
400 E. Spring Street
Springfield, Illinois 62756
- Genealogical Society of Southern Illinois
John A. Logan College Library
700 Logan College Road
Carterville, Illinois 62918
Telephone: 618-985-2828, Ext. 8338
Hours: vary by season, see website
The Society focuses on Alexander, Clay, Clinton, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, St. Clair, Union, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White, and Williamson counties. The Society's book and microfilm collection is housed at the John A. Logan College Library. The Society publishes a newsletter (click here for recent issues) and a quarterly journal The Saga of Southern Illinois (click here for a topical index that breaks down what has been published county-by-county).
Family associations and surname societies have been organized to gather information about ancestors or descendants of specific individuals or families. See the "United States Societies" Wiki article for a directory and more information about these societies.
Clubs or occupational or fraternal organizations may have existed in the area where your ancestor lived. Those societies may have kept records of members or applications that may be of genealogical or biographical value. Though many of the old records have been lost, some have been donated to local, regional, or state archives and libraries. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) is an example of an organization an ancestor may have joined. See the "Military Records" section for a discussion of their records.
Public librarians and county clerks may be aware of other local organizations or individuals you can contact for information and services. In many small communities, the elderly are a wonderful resource for history and memories. Some maintain scrapbooks of obituaries and events in the community.
Additional resources for Illinois societies may be found in the Illinois-Societies 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 society resources available at other libraries (WorldCat). Explore how to search WorldCat and the FHLC.