Joan Griffis/Illinois Ancestors: Civil War documents in library and online

Joan Griffis/Illinois Ancestors: Civil War documents in library and online

The State Library of Virginia employed two archivists to travel around the state from 2011 to 2015 to make digital copies of Civil War documents of its residents in a sort of "Antiques Roadshow" style. It was thought that a few hundred items would be located. Wrong! More than 33,000 pages of letters, diaries, documents and photographs were scanned and have now been made available online. To search this database, now called the James Robertson Jr. Civil War Sesquicentennial Legacy Collection, visit (Robertson is a noted Civil War scholar, author, lecturer and professor of history at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.)

For example, a search for "Illinois" results in 30 items including family papers, letters, photographs, and collections.

The Library of Virginia also offers a helpful Civil War Research Guide, which can be accessed free at

This website also provides links to LVA books and journals, manuscripts, newspapers, VA Confederate pensions, VA Confederate disability applications and receipts, Robert E. Lee Camp Soldiers Home applications for admission, VA Military Dead database, an index to VA Confederate Rosters, Confederate Navy Index, and index to Confederate Veteran Magazine.

Chicago Archdiocese cemetery records online

FamilySearch has released an extensive collection of cemetery records from the Archdiocese of Chicago with more than 1.9 million entries, and dated from 1864 to 1989.

One can search for a name, free, at The details that may be provided include birth year, death date, burial date and place, and name of cemetery. (To see an image of the record, one must sign in to a free account.)

FamilySearch is the largest genealogical organization in the world. It is a nonprofit volunteer-driven organization sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources and services to learn about their family history free online at or through more than 4,900 family history centers in 29 countries around the world, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Illinois casualties in Vietnam War

Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, part of Record Group 30, include a database called U.S. Military Fatal Casualties of the Vietnam War for Home-State-of-Record: Illinois.

This information is available at and consists of an alphabetical list with each veteran's full name, service branch, rank, birth date, county of record, incident or death date, and remains recovered (Y or N). It is sad to read, and remember, these thousands of veterans.

New Illinois Society Newsletter online

The November/December 2016 issue or the Illinois State Genealogical Society's Newsletter is now available, free, on the society's website at Included in this issue is information about Madison County's Probate File Project to process more than 44,000 probate files, which begin in the early 1900s. These files are proving to be a "treasure of information" and include stories of missing people who suddenly had relatives ready to claim any assets available, a family cemetery that was willed to a city, and guardianship files that predated Illinois statehood. This issue is sure to be enjoyed by Illinois readers. Previous issues are also available.

Happy Thanksgiving

Anyone who has ever wanted to express a special greeting in a language other than English can easily do so with the help of a handy website at For example, "Happy Thanksgiving" in French is "Joyeux Action de Graces."

Genealogists can be thankful that this website can also be helpful for translating any foreign word or expression into English. The German word "geboren" means "born" in English; "Nato" means "born" in Italian. There are dozens of nationalities from which to choose — and the site is free.

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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