Illinois Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
Illinois sil.png
the Illinois Family History Research series.
History of Illinois
Illinois Vital Records
Census Records for Illinois
Background Sources for Illinois
Illinois Maps
Illinois Land Records
Illinois Probate Records
Illinois Court Records
Illinois Tax Records
Illinois Cemetery Records
Illinois Church Records
Illinois Military Records
Illinois Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Illinois Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Illinois Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Illinois
Illinois County Resources
Map of Illinois


Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly has been published quarterly since 1969 by the society, surveying Illinois original source material, family genealogies, and research questions.

Illinois Libraries, published by the Illinois State Library, often contains information on genealogical collections within the state.

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, published four times a year since 1908, has excellent articles on local and state history as well as book reviews.

Illinois Heritage, also published by the Illinois State Historical Society, is a bimonthly magazine aimed at a broader audience.


The Illinois Herald, published at Kaskaskia in 1814, was the first Illinois newspaper. Numerous indexes of genealogically important data have been compiled from local and county newspapers, not all in print. Researchers wishing to locate these indexes should contact local genealogical and historical societies in addition to searching online library card catalogs. As an example, the Newspaper Research Committee of the Chicago Genealogical Society has published Vital Records from Chicago Newspapers, 1833'1839 (Chicago: the society, 1971); Vital Records from Chicago Newspapers, 1845 (Chicago: the society, 1975); and Vital Records from Chicago Newspapers, 1843'1844 (Chicago: the society, 1974). Some suggested sources for more information on Illinois newspapers follow:

  • James, Edmund J. A Bibliography of Newspapers Published in Illinois Prior to 1860. Illinois State Historical Library Publications, Number 1. Springfield, Ill.: Phillips Brothers, 1899.
  • Stark, Sandra M. 'Newspapers in the Illinois State Library,' Illinois Libraries 70 (March'April 1988): 3-4. Updated publication in Illinois Libraries every three years.
  • University of Chicago. Newspapers in the Libraries of Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 1936.


Some of the very earliest records of Illinois are included in the J. Nick Perrin collection at the Illinois State Archives in Springfield. The Perrin collection is comprised of over 5,000 documents relating to the French, British, and American regimes at Cahokia and to early St. Clair County at Belleville, dating from 1737 to 1850. A 1737 marriage contract is one of the earliest items in this collection. Births and deaths (1840'58) are also included. Land claims, tax records, road petitions, registers of slaves and free negroes, and probate records are only a few of the multitude of historically important documents in the Perrin collection.

Also housed at the Illinois State Archives are the Kaskaskia Manuscripts, another significant collection for Illinois research. The records, which begin in 1708, are almost entirely notarial transactions. They include, among other agreements, acknowledgments of debt, marriage contracts, and land sales. Some clerk of court registers have been included in the notary's files. If a notary was unavailable, a priest might draft documents to be filed with the notary's records.

See also Draper Manuscripts in Wisconsin Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections.