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The digital content of the Illinois State Archives is strewn about three different sites that don't really seem to talk (i.e., link) to one another.   Make sure to check all three, as there's some phenomenal content available.

At what I suppose is the official website of the Illinois State Archives, you'll find some quite incredible genealogy resources as well as some deep content on more general history. 

Start off with the list of Online Databases, and prepare to be impressed.  This is some collection.

For starters, there's an all-too-rare slavery and emancipation database which allows lookups by name of slave or owner, or by other search parameters, such as location or date.

There's also an unusual set of more than half a million records of public domain land sales where you can find property ownership for the likes of Abraham Lincoln. 

Other treasures here include:

Illinois Veteran Records, including those from wars you don't often hear about, like the Black Hawk War, or the Winnebago War (probably not what you think!). 

Some fairly standard Vital Records Databases:
  • Marriage Index, 1763–1900
  • Death Index, Pre–1916
  • Death Index (1916–1950)

Perhaps most unusual of all is the collection of the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD).  Just look at the variety of (mostly county) records you can find here:
  • Birth Certificates Index
  • Death Certificate Registers Index
  • Court of Common Pleas Case Files Index
  • Circuit Court Case Files Index
  • Coroner's Inquest Record Index
  • Probate Case Files Index
  • Circuit Court Criminal Case Files Index
  • Will Record Index
  • Almshouse Registers Index
  • Chicago Police Department Homicide Record
  • Naturalization Papers
  • Farm Board Record Index
  • Guardian's Case Files Index

Best of all, for genealogy buffs, anyway, Illinois had the cyber-presence of mind to host a Global Database Search,  a one-stop lookup where you can search for family names (or anyone's name!) in all name-lookup databases in one easy search. 

Lastly, there is also a somewhat annoyingly-presented Illinois Township Plats site, with detailed maps from the entire state.

The second site of note is the Illinois Digital Archive with dozens of topic areas, but not always as much content as one might expect.   Only 42 documents on Abraham Lincoln! C'mon guys...there's gotta be more to Honest Abe's history than that!   Still, there are some interesting and very diverse materials here, in the following collections:

  • A University Goes to War, World War I Women
  • A Village Grows - Fifty Years of Life in Elmwood Park
  • Abraham Lincoln - Documents
  • Arthur, Once Upon a Time - Local History Images of Arthur
  • Bloomington-Normal Black History Project
  • Calumet Heritage Partnership - Acme Coke Plant
  • Cherry Valley Local History Collection
  • Chicago Ridge Online History Collection
  • Coal Mining, Machine vs. Man
  • Flora Digital Newspapers
  • Henderson County Historical Society Museum
  • Historic Champaign County - Neighborhoods and Homes
  • Historic Maps of Aurora
  • Historic Quincy Area Photo Collection
  • Illinois and the Civil War - Documents
  • Illinois Blue Books
  • Illinois Constitution
  • Illinois Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths Digital Image Collection
  • Illinois Historic Aerial Photographs, 1936-1941
  • Illinois State Fair Museum
  • Illinois State Highway Maps
  • Illinois State Library - General Collection
  • Illinois Veterans History Project
  • Images of Loves Park, Machesney Park and Roscoe
  • Lincoln and Lincoln-Related Documents from the Illinois State Archives
  • Madison County Genealogical Resources
  • Mining and Mother Jones in Mount Olive
  • Native American Collection - McLean County Museum of History and ISU
  • O'Hare Digital Collection
  • Oak Ridge Cemetery Interment Records
  • Oral Histories of Centralia
  • Park Forest - An Illinois Planned Community
  • Polo Area Cemetery Records of Ogle, Lee, Carroll and Whiteside Counties
  • Pullman State Historic Site
  • Remembering FDR
  • Remembering the Houses of Western Springs
  • Social Justice and Activism at Elmhurst College
  • Southeast Chicago Historical Society
  • Springfield Aviation Company Collection
  • St. Charles History - Then and Now
  • Sterling and Rock Falls Local History Collection
  • The Art Institute of Chicago Exhibition Catalogues
  • The Charles Overstreet Collection
  • The Living Museum
  • The Naperville Heritage Collection
  • The Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield
  • The Proviso Township Herald
  • The William Hayes Collection, 1820-1860
  • Towanda District Library - Towanda Area Historical Collection
  • Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science
  • Urban Landscapes from the Field Museum
  • Vachel Lindsay Collection
  • Warbler Digitization Project - Eastern Illinois University
  • World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 from the Field Museum
  • World War I - Documents
  • World War II - Documents
  • World War II - From Homefront to Warfront
  • World War II - Posters

Update...this next site has been retired and the datasets merged with the above two resources.
The third archives site, from the Digital Illinois pages of Illinois State Library has a lot of overlap with the other archives (same old 42 Lincoln documents), but also some distinct materials of their own, including a few materials, like the postcard collections, that are not focused solely on Illinois.  

At the risk of repetition, I'll list their collections as well: 

  •  A Selection of Lake Forest Architecture 
  •  A University Goes to War, World War I Women 
  •  Abraham Lincoln - Full Text Books & Documents 
  •  ALA Archives Digital Collections 
  •  Algonquin & Lake in the Hills Local History 
  •  Arlington Heights History 
  •  Arlington Heights Military History 
  •  Arlington Heights People and Places 
  •  Arthur, Once Upon a Time - Local History Images of Arthur 
  •  Attempted Nazi March in Skokie 
  •  Augustana College Special Collections 
  •  Ayer Art Collection (Newberry Library) 
  •  Barrington Cemeteries 
  •  Barrington Review Online 
  •  Barrington Telephone Directories 
  •  Bloomington-Normal Black History Project 
  •  Campus Archival Documents (University of Illinois at Springfield) 
  •  Campus News Archive (University of Illinois at Springfield) 
  •  Cary Area History 
  •  Cherry Valley Local History Collection 
  •  Chicago Postcards  
  •  Coal Mining, Machine vs. Man 
  •  Collector's Books, Cuba Township, 1885-1899 
  •  Collins Collection of Irish Political Cartoons 
  •  Davenport Public Library Special Collections 
  •  Deerfield Area History 
  •  Digital Image Collection (Western Illinois University) 
  •  Doc Horrell Photo Collection (Southern Illinois University-Carbondale) 
  •  Dr. Louise Klehm Archive 
  •  Dundee Township History 
  •  Eastern Illinois University Year Book - Warbler 
  •  Ela Historical Society Photograph Collection 
  •  Elgin Area History 
  •  Elisha Gray Reception and Banquet 
  •  Ethnic Heritage Museum 
  •  Evanston's Concerned Citizens Commitment News 
  •  Fort Sheridan 
  •  French World War I Posters 
  •  Friends of our Native Landscape Publications 
  •  Gail Borden Public Library History 
  •  Galesburg Public Library 
  •  General Postcard Views 
  •  German Emblem Books 
  •  Glencoe Historical and Architectural Survey 
  •  Graham School of Nursing History 
  •  Great Lakes Collection (Newberry Library) 
  •  Henderson County Historical Society Museum 
  •  Highland Park Buildings 
  •  Highland Park History 
  •  Historic Maps of Aurora 
  •  Historical Maps Online 
  •  Historical Photographs at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) 
  •  Historical Photos of Fox River Grove, IL 
  •  Histories of Park Ridge 
  •  Illinois and the Civil War - Documents from the Illinois State Library 
  •  Illinois Blue Books 
  •  Illinois Constitution - Documents from the Illinois State Library 
  •  Illinois Postcards 
  •  Illinois State Library - General Collection 
  •  Illinois State University History 
  •  Images of Loves Park, Machesney Park and Roscoe 
  •  International Postcards 
  •  Island Lake News 1940-1952 
  •  John Wesley Powell Collection of Pueblo Pottery (Illinois Wesleyan University) 
  •  Lake County Materials 
  •  Lake Forest Academy and Ferry Hall Collection 
  •  Libertyville History 
  •  Lincoln Park Architectural Photographs</options> 
  •  Lincoln Park Neighborhood Collection</options> 
  •  Local History Resources (University of Illinois at Springfield) 
  •  Manuscripts and Special Collections (University of Illinois at Springfield) 
  •  Mel Tierney Post Servicemen File 
  •  Midway Village and Museum Center 
  •  Midwest Postcards (NE,IA,IN,OH,KS,MO) 
  •  Mining and Mother Jones in Mount Olive 
  •  Mitchell Museum of the American Indian 
  •  Monticello Oral Histories Collection 
  •  Morton Grove History 
  •  Motley Collection of Theater and Costume Design 
  •  Mount Prospect History 
  •  Mount Prospect Public Library 
  •  Musser Public Library 
  •  Native American Collection - McLean County Museum of History and ISU 
  •  News from Other Towns 
  •  Normal Editions Workshop at ISU 
  •  Northeast Postcards (ME,VT,NH,MA,RI,NY,CT,PA,DE,MD & DC) 
  •  Northern Midwest Postcards (ND,SD,MN,WI,MI) 
  •  Northfield Historical Society 
  •  Northwest Postcards (WA,OR,MT.ID,WY,AK) 
  •  O'Hare Digital Collection 
  •  Oak Ridge Cemetery Interment Records 
  •  Oral Histories of Centralia 
  •  Outstanding Student Masters' Theses (University of Illinois at Springfield) 
  •  Park Forest - An Illinois Planned Community 
  •  Photographs of Highland Park 
  •  Pieces of Park Ridge 
  •  Polo Area Cemetery Records of Ogle, Lee, Carroll and Whiteside Counties 
  •  Prospect Heights Community Newsletters 
  •  Prospect Heights Photos 
  •  Pullman Digital Collection (Newberry Library) 
  •  Putnam Museum 
  •  Remembering the Houses of Western Springs 
  •  Rock Island Historical Society 
  •  Rockford College 
  •  Rockford Public Library 
  •  Rolling Meadows Business and Farms 
  •  Rolling Meadows Community News 
  •  Rolling Meadows Etcetera 
  •  Rolling Meadows Government 
  •  Rolling Meadows Maps 
  •  Rolling Meadows Schools 
  •  Russian Publics 
  •  Seven Settlement Houses-Database of Photos (University of Illinois at Chicago) 
  •  Skokie Fire Department History Project 
  •  Skokie History Project 
  •  Social Justice and Activism at Elmhurst College 
  •  South Midwest Postcards (TX,OK,AR,LA) 
  •  Southeast Postcards 
  •  Southwest Postcards (CA,NV,UT,CO,AZ,NM,HI) 
  •  Springfield Aviation Company Collection 
  •  St. Charles History - Then and Now 
  •  Student Art at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) 
  •  Swahili Expressive Arts Collection (IWU) 
  •  Teaching with Digital Content 
  •  The Argus, 2004- (Illinois Wesleyan University)
  •  The Charles Overstreet Collection 
  •  The Field Museum of Natural History 
  •  The Geographic Image Collection at Depaul University</options> 
  •  The Jack Bradley Photojournalism Collection (Bradley University) 
  •  The Living Museum 
  •  The Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield 
  •  The William Hayes Collection, 1820-1860 
  •  Tinker Swiss Cottage 
  •  USF Library History (U. of St. Francis) 
  •  Vachel Lindsay Collection 
  •  Views of Barrington 
  •  Village of Kildeer - Clayton Brown Collection 
  •  Vincentian Postcards from DePaul University</options> 
  •  Wauconda History 
  •  Wauconda Newspapers & Newspaper Articles 
  •  Wilmette Art 
  •  Wilmette Biographies 
  •  Wilmette Buildings 
  •  Wilmette History 
  •  World War I - Documents from the Illinois State Library 
  •  World War II - Documents from the Illinois State Library 
  •  World War II - Posters from the Illinois State Library 
  •  World War II Correspondence (Illinois Wesleyan University) 

Three cheers to the Unity Point Library in Carbondale. Enjoy!

More historical archives and research materials can be found at these excellent resources:

 Historical Newspaper Archives         

 Genealogy Tools                                US Historical Newspapers        

 European Historical Newspapers        International Historical Newspapers

Court Record Searches                        Public Records Searches 

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