Illinois Ancestors: Old maps on the Internet

Illinois Ancestors: Old maps on the Internet

Family Tree magazine's Genealogy Insider has a helpful website that provides access to four free websites having old maps at

They are the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, which focuses on 18th- and 19th-century maps in North and South America; the Margrett Library Rare Map Collection at the University of Georgia; the Library of Congress Map Collection; and the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection.

Maps are important because they can pinpoint the location of an ancestor's property and also indicate where that family went to church and school, who were his/her neighbors, and possibly the nearest county courthouse where legal transactions were recorded.

For example, the Library of Congress Map Collection at enables one to search "map" and "Illinois," resulting in 217 "hits," including 1867 bird's eye views of Aurora, Bloomington and Peoria.

(From this Illinois page, one can also click on "Civil War," resulting in 21 maps of locations where Illinois units participated during that war.)

Illinois newsletter online

The most recent newsletter (November/December 2013) of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, accessible free along with other back issues at ilgensoc. org/mo_newsletter.php, includes a most informative article on the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System.

Researchers unfamiliar with the resources of the IRAD system should visit

The newsletter also reported the 75th anniversary of the Illinois State Archives Building, the Margaret Cross Norton Building, which currently houses more than 75,000 cubic feet of state records. These include "French and English colonial records, territorial records (and) more than 100 Lincoln documents."

ISGS membership

An individual membership in ISGS costs $30 a year. Members receive four issues of the 64-page Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly and also have access to the members section at

Members may also submit surname information to the Surname Database and also enjoy discounts on publications, conference fees and death certificate lookups, as well as receive help with genealogical problems.

Write ISGS, P.O. Box 10195, Springfield, IL 62791-0195; phone 789-1968. A membership can be obtained at

Illinois census checklist

FamilySearch has provided a most helpful website, Online Illinois Indexes and Images, at

Although this website provides links to the subscription-based websites as well as links to free sites at some libraries, there are also links to indexes and images on free websites, such as FamilySearch.

Also scroll down this website to access links to non-population censuses (e.g., Illinois 1850 Mortality Census) as well as state and territorial censuses. It might be wise to bookmark this site so that quick access can be obtained in the future. (The Illinois State Genealogical Society has adopted this Wiki page and welcomes contributions.)

It is not known if all states have a similar website, accessed by substituting another state for "Illinois" in the URL shown above.

At least Indiana has such a site at

Sources, uses of death records

David Rodeback has posted a helpful link to "Nineteen Kinds of Death Records and Their Uses" at Be sure to heed his advice:

"As always, when your search leads you to a record, don't just record the information in your tree. Record the source, too. And if you find an actual document, upload it to your tree, share it with family members and put it in a file folder — all of which will help others to find it."

Rodeback's website also provides links to other helpful information, especially his genealogical tips.

For example, go to the link, "Middle Names: How to Use Them and How Not to Use Them" and "Map it Out: Using Maps to Answer Family History Question," which is relevant to the first article in today's column on maps.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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