Illinois Ancestors: Researchers need to evaluate progress

Illinois Ancestors: Researchers need to evaluate progress

Genealogical researchers, whether beginners or more advanced, need to "take stock" or evaluate their research notes from time to time in order to decide the next course of action. Perhaps a "dead end" needs to be re-studied, or a missing link needs to be identified.

Shoestring Genealogy offers a variety of forms, charts, and checklists, all free, at A click on "US Sources Checklist" takes one to helpful list of records that should be checked for any individual being researched. The list includes home sources, city records, county records, state records, federal records, immigrant records, church records, schools records, medical records, military records, career sources and Internet sources.

With over 100 possible sources of information, it is possible that that "brick wall" will no longer be a stumbling block.

Shoestring Genealogy's website at provides links to other helpful information as well, and the link to the list of forms and charts is especially important.

Surnames on RootsWeb

The RootsWeb Surname List (RSL) is a list of over 1 million surnames that have been submitted by more than 190,000 genealogists. One can search this list at and learn dates and locations associated with each name as well as information about how to contact the person who submitted the name.

For example, a search for the surname "Griffis" with no location specified resulted in 43 researchers identified; but a search for "Griffis" and "OH" resulted in 1 researcher. Since our family research deals primarily with Griffises in Ohio, the researcher also with an interest in that name in Ohio would be the person to contact.

There is no charge to add additional surnames to the list.

Sangamon County resources

The Sangamon County Circuit Clerk, Tony Libri, has an interesting website at that has indexes from 1821 to 1982 as well as links to other helpful genealogy web resources. For example, one can search for birth records that are at least 75 years old.

IRAD lists records

The Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD) provides its lists of Illinois county records in the 360-page document (in PDF format), "Local Governmental Records Listings Arranged by County." One can easily browse through any county's listings.

For example, a click on "Sangamon County" on the toolbar at the left takes one to the eight pages of records from Sangamon County that are maintained by IRAD at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS). These include birth certificates, 1866-1917. IRAD staff will look up specific records free.

Burned courthouse research

Genealogical researchers are sometimes confronted with the problem of learning that a county courthouse in the county where an ancestor had lived, had had a fire, destroying vital records having family information.

FamilySearch has provided a helpful article with a partial list of burned counties as well as advice for dealing with the problem at

The website states, "We cannot make missing records re-appear, but we CAN learn to make progress without them."

A click on Illinois' burned courthouses identifies the 22 counties (out of 102) that have suffered courthouse fires, the dates of those fires and extent of damage.

Midwestern roots 2014

It is not too early to make plans to attend the Indiana Historical Society's genealogy conference, Midwestern Roots 2014, Aug. 1 and 2 in Indianapolis. More than 30 motivating lectures from such well-known speakers as Curt B. Witcher and Amy Johnson Crow will be offered.

Pre-conference activities on July 31 will include a workshop for people who work or volunteer in genealogy collections, hands-on computer labs, writing sessions and photo identification. The day will conclude with The Great Google Earth Game Show with Lisa Louise Cooks.

Librarians may earn continuing education credits at this conference.

For more information or to register, visit or phone 317-232-1882.

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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