Illinois Ancestors: New cemetery law is pending

Illinois Ancestors: New cemetery law is pending

State Rep. Charles E. Meier, R-Highland, has introduced HB5625 to the Illinois General Assembly that would require owners of private property on which a cemetery or graves are located to allow access by (1) family members and descendants of deceased persons buried there; (2) any cemetery plot owner; and (3) genealogists who have given notice to the owner of record or to the occupant of the property or both.

This Access to Cemeteries Act was filed on Feb. 13 and has to go through the legislative process before it becomes a law. A synopsis of the bill can be read at

The bill also "provides that a landowner may not erect a wall, fence, or other structure or device that prevents ingress and egress to the cemetery or grave unless the wall, fence, or other structure or device has a gate or other means by which ingress and egress can be accomplished."

Illinois cemetery laws

A helpful booklet has been published by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, "Stones and Statutes: Laws Governing Illinois Cemeteries," which can be downloaded free at

It defines the legal terms usually found in Illinois statutes such as abandonment, skeletal analyst and registered exempt cemeteries. Other items covered include federal programs, state government assistance, governmental obligations, and where additional information can be found. Visit the website of this agency at or call 782-4836 for additional information on cemetery preservation, publications, etc.

Copyright laws

Sharon DeBartolo Carmack has written a definitive book on copyrights in her 2005 work, "Carmack's Guide to Copyright & Contracts: A Primer for Genealogists, Writers & Researchers," but she admits "the law is dynamic and not always black and white."

Therefore it is wise to be aware of others' evaluations of this term.

For example, the Cornell Information Center has prepared a helpful chart that covers copyright and public domain in the United States as of Jan. 1. Visit

Genealogical societies as well as individuals who plan to publish need to be aware of this information.

The Legal Genealogist (online) recently addressed this situation in response to a reader's observation of large-scale book scanners in a major research library that was being used to "scan entire books free of charge no questions asked."

Read the article, "A library machine isn't a license" at, and notice the final reminder: "Just because a library has a book scanner shouldn't turn us into copy-thieves."

For more information on Carmack's book (or to purchase a copy) visit the website of the Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. at w

Jewish WWI POW cards online

According to the website of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee at, "A Collection of records of Jewish prisoners of war in Siberia from 1920 have been indexed and is now available online. The soldiers, depicted on the more than 1,000 cards that comprise the collection, served in the German and Austro-Hungarian armies."

Many of these records "contain biographical information and rare photographs, (and) are an incredible historical resource for those who have German, Hungarian or Galitzianer heritage."

A search can be made on this website for names in this database as well as other records of JDC's rescue and relief operations around the world.

British army diaries online

Diaries from British soldiers that describe life in the army during World War I are being made available online by Britain's National Archives. "The first batch of 1,944 digitised diaries detail the experiences of 3 cavalry and 7 infantry divisions in the initial wave of British army troops deployed in 1914. Diaries portray the apprehension and horror of war as well as accounts of leisure activities and poignant farewells at the end of the fighting."

Search free at "but there may be a charge to download documents."

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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