Illinois Ancestors | Site offers guides to Britain's archives

Illinois Ancestors | Site offers guides to Britain's archives

The United Kingdom's National Archives maintains an online catalog called Discovery, which holds more than 32 million descriptions of records held by the NA and more than 2,500 archives across the country. Over 9 million records are available for download.

An introduction to Discovery, at, provides links to getting started as well as links to guides (at are available in various topics such as family history, World War I, World War II, foreign and colonial history, land and maps, and online collections.

A total of 197 guides are available, and it is possible to request "only guides with all records online." Descriptions are provided that indicate the value of the records.

For example, "the 1939 Register provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. As the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed ... and no census was taken in 1941, the Register provides the most complete survey of the population of England and Wales between 1921 and 1951, making it an invaluable resource for family, social and local historians."

Resources at Chicago's branch

The Illinois State Genealogical Society continues to provide free webinars the second Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m. Central time. On Aug. 14, the past president of ISGS, Jane Haldeman, will present "National Archives Resources at the Chicago Branch."

The society's website says this facility "holds federal records from agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, dating from the 1800s. There are General Land Office, Farming and Agriculture, Naturalization, Military, Taxes, Postal Service, Court Cases, and many more records that can be invaluable when researching your family history. Learn what's available and how to access" them.

To register for the webinar, visit Visit the ISGS website at for other society activities. Frequently asked questions about webinars can be found at

Surname index of Lincoln Library

Indexes to biographical sketches that are included in 19th- and 20th-century Illinois county histories in the Reference Collection of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library can be searched at

The results of a search, if found, list the citation to the biographical sketch, i.e., title, author, date of publication, page, etc. The volumes cited are in the library's Steve Neal Reading Room, but copies may also be found in a local library or online.

For example, a search for William Black resulted in 21 persons with that name, along with a year of birth and a reference. William P. Black, born in 1842, is mentioned on pages 666-667 in "Soldiers' & Patriots' Biographical Album" (publisher, Chicago: Union Veteran Publishing Co., 1892). Also, William P. Black, born in 1842, is mentioned on pages 496-498 in "Beckwith's History of Vermilion County" (publisher, Chicago: H.H. Hill & Co. 1879).

For more information contact the library's reference desk at 217-524-6358.

Search online records by location

FamilySearch maintains a most helpful website that provides links to online records in individual states, provinces or countries around the world. Visit to select a location or record type.

These online records may include vital records (births, deaths and marriages), biographies, cemeteries, censuses, church records, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, newspapers and probate records.

Be sure to click on the link to Illinois Online Genealogy Records. The list of links available is most impressive. Also note links to additional resources on the right side of th epage; categories include Illinois background, ethnicity (African-American,Native American, etc.), local research resources (archives, libraries, societies, Family History Centers) and adoption.

As has been mentioned earlier, it is necessary to open a free account in order to use FamilySearch. A username and password are all that is required.

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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