Marriage Records States Genealogy Genealogy Directory Search for Ancestors Surname Queries

Illinois Genealogy

Finding out more about Illinois genealogy usually just means a few forms sent in for vital records, or a visit to the local library or archives. There is at least 100 years worth of documented history to look through, and usually much more if you know where to look.

Illinois Vital Records

There are some privacy restrictions for getting Illinois birth, death and marriage documents, but exceptions are made for anyone researching Illinois genealogy.

Certified copies are the most restricted, and they are limited mainly to direct relatives. For genealogy purposes, you don't really need a certified copy so you can request an uncertified one. To get an uncertified birth record, you have to wait 75 years if they are still living. If you can prove that the person on record has died, then you can get copy more recent than 75 years. Death records are issued without question after 20 years have passed.

Either birth or death records can be requested from the Division of Vital Records, which is part of the larger Department of Public Health. Their website has the proper forms and current details for making your request. Marriage records are not held by this office, and can only be accessed by getting in touch with the county clerk's office of the county where the marriage is registered.

For birth and death records, you will have the best luck looking back until around 1916 though some areas by have additional records to 1877. Pre-1916 documents will have to be found through the county clerk's office as the state office does not have records that old.

The forms can be sent to the Vital Records office in Springfield, and you will need to include all the relevant dates, locations and names to specifically identify the record you need. The forms will also list what the current fees are. Birth records are currently $15 and death records are $10.

Illinois State Archives

Vital records are important but they are not everything in Illinois genealogy. You can also get a lot of good information from census records, military service records, draft cards, court files, land records and more. These are all found as part of the archives holdings.

The Archives are in Springfield, but if you are not able to visit their location in person they will do some searching and photocopying for you (for a fee). If you can go in person, they are open during regular weekday business hours.

Join a Local Society

Doing genealogy research can be difficult and having others in the same boat to turn to can be a great assistance. The Illinois State Genealogy Society is a very good resource to find others with their own collections of records for the region. Their website has some good databases available for free to anyone but members have access to additional material.

You can also delve into very specific areas of Illinois genealogy by joining one of the many county-based groups instead. Nearly every county in the state has at least one genealogy group.

State Resources 

Bible Records
  • Iroquois County   Bible records from the Iroquois County Genealogical Society.

Birth Records

Census Coal Mines and Miners
  • The Cherry Mine Disaster  On November 13, 1909 around 1:30 p.m. in the town of Cherry, Illinois, a thin puff of smoke rose through the escape shaft of the local mine.  In minutes it became so thick that people could hardly see through it.  Moments after the smoke got thicker came cries that the mine was on fire
  • Early Days of Coal Mining in Northern Illinois  A history of coal mining in the region starting in the 1860's when a farmer struck coal while drilling a well for water. For the next 50 years, thousands of people came into Will, Grundy, and Kankakee Counties to seek their livelihood in the coal mines.
  • The Herrin Massacre  The violence and bloodshed that occurred on a hot June day in Herrin, Illinois in 1922 left a legacy that still hangs over this community


Crimes and Criminals
  • The Birger Gang  Charlie Birger remains a legendary figure in southern Illinois, due to his prominent position as one of the region's leading organized crime figures during the prohibition era of the 1920's.  He was also known as a charitable member of his adopted community, Harrisburg, in Saline County

Databases and Indexes

  • Illinois Database of Servitude and Emancipation Records (1722-1863)   Database includes more than 2000 transactions found in governmental records involving the servitude and emancipation of Africans and, occasionally, Indians in the French and English eras of colonial Illinois (1722-1790) and African-Americans in the American period of Illinois (1790-1863)     

Death Records and Obits


  • The Eastland Disaster of 1915  On Saturday, July 24, 1915, the passenger ship Eastland was docked in downtown Chicago on the Chicago River preparing to depart for a Lake Michigan cruise. But, unexpectedly, the ship "tipped over" spilling passengers into the river and trapping others underwater. The disaster claimed over 800 lives.     
  • Illinois History  A special project of the US GenWeb and IL Genweb  has an abundance of information about all facets of Illinois history.
  • The Great Tornado of 1925   Widely considered the most devastating and powerful tornado in American history, the Great Tri-State Tornado ripped through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925
  • Illinois Poorhouse History     Public care of the poor in Illinois began in 1819. In that year, the General Assembly passed a law mandating public care and maintenance of those unable to support themselves and without family support. 



To have more space for the contents, the military section of Illinois Genealogy has been moved to a separate page,  Illinois Genealogy Military  Included are information about the major conflicts in which Illinois residents participated, as well as information about American Revolutionary Soldiers buried in Illinois.


Native American


Other Illinois Genealogy Resources


Select a state
AL  | AK  | AZ  | AR  | CA | CO  |  CT  | DE  | FL | GA  |  IA  | ID  | ILIN | KS  | KY  | LA  | MA | MD | MI  | MN  |  MO  | ME  | MSMT  | NC  |  NDNE  | NH | NJ  | NM  | NV | NY  | OH | OK   | OR  | PA  | RI  |  SC | SD  | TN  | TX  | UT  |  VAVT  |  WA  |  WIWV  | WY


  View and post searchable marriage records
  All Genealogy Sites Directory





African American
Birth Records
Church Records
Coal Mines
Colonial America
Commercial Sites
Diaries & Letters
Family Bibles
Goodspeed's History
Marriage Records
Medical Terms
Native American
Orphan Trains
Resource Sites
State Archives


New Sites
You'll Want to See!

Ancestor Archive  Find photos of your ancestors 

All Ancestors  Find the records your ancestors left!

All Surnames  Surname resources

Surname Archive  Find your surnames!

Genealogy Finds   Scanned documents with names! 

Colonial Ancestors  The colonies

All Biographies  Online Biographies

Ancestor Surnames 

Female Ancestors
Genealogy Data
Contact Us
Add a Site
Death Records on Surname Archive 

Free Searches:
Search for Ancestors
Free Look Ups

The Genealogy Register

Site Index