Griffis: Early Illinois newspapers’ indexes online – Danville Commercial News

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s (ALPL) Newspaper Microfilm Collection includes more than 5,000 newspaper titles on nearly 100,000 reels of microfilm. These include newspapers from every one of Illinois’102 counties. Researchers can view indexes that have been created for early issues of the Illinois State Journal and its predecessors from 1831 through 1860.

Visit and select a newspaper to browse the index. “Topics are largely Illinois-related, but you can search people, places and events, alphabetically and chronologically.”

At this website there is also a link to a list of categories of that library’s newspaper holdings: e.g., Illinois newspapers listed by city, by county, by out-of-state, etc. Information is also provided on purchasing microfilm or borrowing microfilm via interlibrary loan.

It should be noted that the website mentions an Obituary Finder, but a click on that link takes one to a page that states that the site “is currently under construction.” (Unfortunately this notation has been on this site for at least two years.) It could be that a request to library staff requesting a check for an obituary might be successful if enough information is provided (full name, place, approximate date/s, etc.) Write ALPL, 112 N. 6th St., Springfield, IL 62701; phone 217-558-8844.

It can be advantageous to a researcher to view other pages of a newspaper in which an obituary may appear. A death notice might be merely a brief statement of a person’s date and place of death, but the news of the day might include additional unexpected details. For example, Sarah Ann (Hunt) Porter Layden Bush died at the Soldiers’ Widows’ Home in Wilmington, Ill.

Her death notice is a brief, one-liner. However, the front page of that newspaper includes incriminating details of abuses at that home, resulting in investigations by the State of Illinois — leading to more documentation and information on the residents there. The Illinois State Archives has details of those investigations.

Have you read any of the newspapers written at the time and place your ancestor/s lived and died? Don’t fail to take advantage of this valuable resource!

Snow’s Genealogy Research Guide

Professional genealogist Barb Snow has several helpful research guides on the Internet. At one can select from a choice of guide topics within three groups: Locality, The Records, and Research Advice.

The locality category provide links to each of the US states (plus the District of Columbia), with each locality’s listing of further links (e.g., general guides, atlases, maps & gazetteers, statewide genealogy websites, societies, libraries, archives, etc.).

The records category provides links to dozens of types (e.g., bibles, cemeteries, church, etc.)

Research advice provide “tips and tools that will help you be a better researcher.”

Beginning genealogists (as well as many advanced) would be wise to study such guides as “Your Guide to Locating and Using Diaries, Letters, Personal Papers and Other Home Manuscript Sources” and “Your Guide to Finding Ancestors in Family Bible Records.”

Snow also has a helpful blog, Genealogy Etc., at

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing


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