Illinois Ancestors: Photos of Civil War veterans online

Illinois Ancestors: Photos of Civil War veterans online

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield maintains one of the largest collections of photographs of Illinois Civil War soldiers and they are being made available to researchers on the Internet. Known at The Boys in Blue, the database can be searched at for an individual, a military unit, residence, etc.

The collection of over 8,000 photos has been scanned and is now in the process of being digitized, cataloged and being made available online free. One can click on any thumbnail print in order to see a larger version of both front and back.

The Illinois units that are available so far include the 4th, 10th and 11th Cavalry, and the 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 26th, 33rd, 37th, 53rd, 56th, 64th, 77th, 86th, 101st, 108th, 114th, 117th, 120th, 122nd and 130th Illinois Infantry Regiments. Other information with each photo includes date and place where photo was taken, residence of the soldier and type of photo (tintype, cartes-de-visite, or cabinet card.)

For example, included in the list of veterans of the 26th IL Infantry are Albert Baldwin (Effingham, Effingham County), Albert W. Arenz (Berlin, Sangamon County), Cinly Diehl (Springfield, Sangamon County, living in Pleasant Plains, Sangamon County at time of enlistment), Francis M Cox (Homer, Champaign County), James A. Flack (Effingham, Effingham County), Alberd Rude (Albion, Edwards County), Thomas L. Vest (Greenville, Bond County, living in Mulberry Grove, Bond County at time of enlistment), William Costley and Thomas Malen (Island Grove, Sangamon County, residing in Berlin, Sangamon County at time of enlistment), C.A. Peace (Berlin, Sangamon County) and David H. Lemons (from Walnut Grove, McDonough County, living in Quincy, Adams County at time of enlistment). (Note: Soldiers' data that provides two locations can offer clues for further research.)

'Guide to Finding Civil War Photos'

Bob Zeller has created an interesting website at, "Guide to Finding Civil War Photos." It has been estimated that no more than 10 percent to 20 percent of individual soldiers' photos had been labeled (by the people who knew who they were) and thus such a search can be difficult, to say the least. Nevertheless, his list of possible websites can be helpful, especially the digital collection of Civil War photos maintained by the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center and searchable at

On a personal note, a search in PERSI (PERiodical Source Index) enabled me to find a photograph of Civil War veteran John Dearborn Walker in a genealogy periodical that had been indexed in that reference. My search for "Walker" and "Porter" resulted in locating the article, "John Dearborn Walker-Marg. Porter fam., PA" in the Susquehanna County Historical Society Newsletter (May 1990). After finding this article listed in PERSI, I sent an order to the Allen County Public Library Foundation in order to obtain photocopies of the page/s having the article. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the cover of that issue showing a likeness of young John as a drummer boy, "possibly the youngest Civil War Veteran."

PERSI "is the largest subject index to genealogy and local history periodical articles in the world. Created by the staff of the Allen County Public Library Foundation and The Genealogy Center ... [it] indexes articles in 11,000 periodical titles ... published by thousands of local, state, national and international societies and organizations."

For additional information on this helpful resource, read the FamilySearch guide at This guide explains how to search PERSI for articles on people (There are more than 126,000 surnames in the PERSI database.) or places in the U.S., Canada or other countries, and emphasizes that PERSI "is a subject index to articles, not an every name or every word index."

Photocopies of articles indexed in PERSI can be purchased from the Allen County Public Library Foundation, P.O. Box 2270, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270.

See PERSI order form at

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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