Newspapers for
Illinois Genealogical Research

Newspapers contain a wealth of information of interest to genealogists and historians. Obituaries and marriage and birth announcements are commonly found in newspapers. In many locations, the executor of an estate is or was required to advertise that the estate was being settled - often the newspapers have these advertisements. Sometimes you find information about who is moving into or leaving a community.

Newspapers also give a window into the life of the time and location. In small town newspapers, you often find references that Aunt Sally went to shopping in the big city, or that Cousin Joe broken his arm falling out of the apple tree.

For an example of what you may find, take a look at some extracts from the 1880s from a small town newspaper called the Leon Indicator, Leon, Butler County, Kansas. These are extracts about the Beadles family who moved to Kansas from Fulton County, IL, as well as other Illinois names and places which I recognized.

Newspapers can be tedious to use, but they are valuable resource you won't want to miss.

Newspapers in Illinois

Newspapers of the Past

Illinois State Historical Library Collections

The Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois has a very large collection of historical newspapers. Their report in 1994 stated they had 4,900 titles. Most are available on microfilm for interlibrary loan (more than 71,000 reels in 1994). The collection is being catalogued through OCLC.

Periodically, the Illinois State Library publishes a special report listing the titles available through the Historical Library, as well as titles known to have been published. Anyone who has missing titles or issues are asked to contact the library. See, for example:

Newspapers in the Historical Library, Illinois State Library Special Report Series, Vol. 1 Issue 1, 1994, Cheryl Pence (guest editor), George H. Ryan, Secretary of State of Illinois and State Librarian.
This book has 144 pages of titles and issue dates for Illinois newspapers and a few non-Illinois newspapers. The book is organized alphabetically by city or town of publication. There is also an alphabetical listing of counties which lists those towns in each county with further listings in the book.

You will also want to check the web site ILLINOIS NEWSPAPER PROJECT which provides similar information.

Contact your local library for assistance in obtaining film on interlibrary loan.

Other Sources

Many local libraries and archives have microfilmed copies of their local papers. If you're looking for information within your local area, your library may have them already!