Illinois Ancestors: Scholarships available for archivists, volunteers

Illinois Ancestors: Scholarships available for archivists, volunteers

According to the most recent issue of the Illinois State Archives Newsletter, "For the Record" (Spring 2014), the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board "is offering scholarships to Illinois archivists and archival volunteers to attend a professional archival workshop/seminar of their choice in Illinois, or an online professional archival development course. Awards are available for up to $200 per applicant per year, and may be used toward the cost of registration, housing and/or travel to the event. It is a reimbursable award."

The scholarships are awarded "on a first-come, first-served basis until the funding is exhausted."

Complete information and an application are available at the secretary of state's website.

Or contact David Joens, director, Illinois State Archives, M. C. Norton Building, Springfield, IL 62756; phone 217-782-3492; fax 217-524-3930.

Midwest Archives Conference

The Midwest Archives Conference will host its 2014 Fall Symposium, "Oral History, Archives, and Innovation," on Sept. 12-13 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. There will be discussions of collection management strategies, transcribing and indexing interviews, format obsolescence, metadata collection, digital preservation, ethical and legal issues and more.

For more information, contact Anke Voss at 217-531-7040. For information on the conference, visit

Preservation of records

The Archives newsletter also has a most helpful Guide for Sustainable File Formats for Electronic Records. "For example, will a given electronic format be available for users in 10 years? 20? 50? While no file format can guarantee perpetual accessibility, certain formats have distinct advantages over others in this regard. These formats are often referred to as 'sustainable' formats."

For an in-depth coverage of this subject, visit the secretary of state's website.

Archives newsletter

It should be noted that the current issue of the Archives newsletter (as well as past issues) can be accessed here.

Cook County naturalization papers

The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives has more than 500,000 naturalization petitions for the years 1871 through 1929. More than

400,000 of these are Declarations of Intention or what are known as "first papers" that were filed by persons wishing to become US citizens. (After 1929 "the local Cook County courts stopped granting naturalizations, and the task was given entirely to the Federal Courts.")

These first papers include the following information: declaration number, name, age, occupation, physical description, city and country of birth, birth date, current address, departure location, vessel of departure, last foreign residence, arrival location, arrival date, signature and declaration date. Most declarations also include marital status, name of spouse with birthplace and residence information.

To conduct a search, go to, click on "Declarations of Intentions Index" and fill in the blanks — even if only a surname. The result/s will indicate name/s, birth date, birth town, birth country and occupation. One can then click on an individual name in order to be taken to a page with additional details as found on the original Declaration of Intention.

Helpful hints for searching include the following: "Try using alternative spellings. If you are unable to locate a document by the full spelling of a last name, try using alternative spellings. Because some records were handwritten in cursive, the spelling of a name sometimes could be interpreted several ways. For example, an 'A' may an 'O' or 'U'; an 'L' could be an 'S,' 'F' or 'T'; the letters 'PH' could be an 'F'; etc."

Be sure to read the list of Frequently Asked Questions for more details on this valuable database.

Queries and 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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