**FOR QUESTIONS REGARDING ADOPTIONS,
What's Available, When?
Once you have your family information organized
(think about keeping your information in binders and /or in a genealogy program on your computer), pick one side
of your family you want to research first. If you try to take them all on at once, it can become pretty confusing
if you are new to all of this. As you gradually learn all the "ins and outs" of research, you can then
begin on your other family lines.
2. Birth and Death Records - It was a requirement in the State of Illinois, to record these records after about 1916. Prior to that time, it will just depend on whether the County recorded either in their record books. If you get stuck and can't seem to locate a birth or death record, try looking for a probate or a will (the probates and wills will come in very handy as you get back further in your family research) in the Circuit Clerk's office at the courthouse. You can also use tombstone readings as a guide. Online sources you should also check are the IL State Archives Statewide Marriage index, 1763-1900, the Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre–1916 and the Illinois Statewide Death Index (1916–1950). Once you find your person in the database, you can write away either to the Archives for a copy of the record or to the IL Dept. of Public Health.
3. Land Records - Land
records are normally held by the County Clerk's office. These can help you locate and prove your ancestor lived
in that County during a certain time period. Online sources you should also check are the Illinois State Archives Public Doman Land Database as well as the Bureau of Land Management records for federal land patents.
For a listing of what records each Illinois County Courthouse has available,
along with the earliest date the records are available, click here.
To view our "Courthouse Research Experience" database, click here.
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Census: This is a great way to find other family members, document your family in a county, find out where they were born, where their parents were born, occupations, etc. From 1850 on, the census will list all of the family members. Prior to that time, only the head of household will be listed and the family will be listed under special headings according to their age and sex. Again, pay close attention to the surrounding families, they often times are family members too. To see what Census information Illinois Genealogy Trails has online, visit our Census page. You may also want to visit this off-site link for links to more Census information: http://www.censusfinder.com
Cemeteries: Death certificates and obituaries often times list the cemetery where your ancestor is buried. Pay close attention to the stones that surround your ancestor. Many times married daughters and other relatives are buried nearby.
Divorce records: Yes, people did divorce "back then" and these records can really be a great help to you. They would be located in the Circuit Clerk's office at the Courthouse.
Wills, Probates and Guardianships: Also located in the Circuit Clerk's office, these records can offer you a variety of h elp. Wills and Probates will give you the date of death. They usually tell you the family members that were left items the deceased owned and any land he owned. Guardianship records may prove useful to find out where the minor children went to live. These are especially gratifying records when you cannot locate your family member after the death of a parent or parents.
Also check the County
histories, old newspapers, funeral homes, church records, etc. As you research, you will become aware of all the different resources available to you.
Your letter or online form must include the following information:
The U.S. Department of State has passport applications from Apr. 1925 to the present. All requests for passport records issued from 1925 to present should be mailed to:
Ellis Island Records - Searchable database
The Illinois State Archives, located
in Springfield, has all Illinois census on microfilm, with exception of the 1890, which was destroyed in a fire
in 1921 They also have listings for the military in Illinois, which includes, for Civil War Veterans, a description
of each man (eye, hair color, etc.) The IL State Archives also houses books on Illinois in general and some on
individual County history. Mortality Indexes are available. There are many other items the Archives has available,
and a visit to their website is a definite must. One area that seems to get passed over is the Descriptive Inventory
at the Illinois state archives.
There are all sorts of records listed that may prove to be beneficial to your research.
Illinois Genealogy Trails Online Databases
The Bureau of Land Management has an online database of land patents that are searchable AND include images of the original patents. Be sure to check this out!
To figure out the set up of the Principal Meridians and Base Lines Of Illinois Counties, Townships and Ranges, we have a map on our Schuyler County site
The National Archives can be of great help to you. They house many records, important to any genealogist. A few of their main resources are Immigration , Passenger Lists and Military Files. Visit their website for more information.
Illinois State Historical Library
(now called the Abraham Lincoln Library), just
down the road from the Archives, is another great resource. They have, among other things, old newspapers that
have survived over the years. To do a search to see what newspapers are available for the area in Illinois you
are researching, click here to access The
Illinois Newspaper Project's Database.
You can purchase a roll of microfilm or request a lookup. More information can be found at their website.
Included here are a large assortment of books on Illinois and other States. A terrific resource for anyone
researching in Illinois. To read about Events in Illinois, such as slavery, the 1811/12 Earthquake, Epidemics,
etc., visit the Illinois
Trails Events page. To find records regarding Illinois' history, Governors,
Old Laws and Trails, Institutions, Early Settlers, helpful hints and forms and so on, visit the
Illinois Genealogy Trails State Data page.
Other State resources include the Illinois Genealogical Society and the Also most historical
and genealogical societies have publications you can purchase. These include Census, Marriage, Cemetery, Military
and other transcriptions that can help you if you can't visit the Courthouse yourself. Here's a list of Societies and their contact information, including website, if known.
Illinois is rich in history. The Illinois State Museum has provided a terrific timeline that should be a great help to you. It gives a wonderful
view of different periods in Illinois history.
The Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) (*see The Illinois State Archives, IRAD section, for more information concerning your area's IRAD*), also houses County records. Their website gives you information on where to look for these records, and you can also do a search of what is available by County. We've provided you with a listing of what records are available at each County Courthouse.
Need to locate a church, cemetery or find out what county a town is located in? You can find the answers through the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The GNIS search form can pinpoint any place in the United States. Simply use the search form, follow the directions and you should find what you are looking for.
If you're looking for a town that no longer exists, try using our transcription of the 1850 Gazeteer Atlas
For later years, here's a link to the maps contained within the 1895 Atlas. They're maps only.
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