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The current presidential campaign is NOT referenced in the website Political Graveyard, in spite of its outward implications. Laurence Kestenbaum has single-handedly researched over 277,000 dead politicians and tells where they are buried. Founded in 1996, his website "is the Internet's most comprehensive free source for American political biography."

As described in Eastman's online genealogy newsletter, this website "has extensive lists of political figures, many of them with mini-biographies or else links to more detailed information."

The Political Graveyard is free to anyone at A surname search may surprise you — and me. (Four politicians were named Griffis.) Names having special distinction are also identified. For example, 18 politicians were born into slavery; six have been in space; 69 survived assassination attempts; and 908 were in trouble or disgraced.

Perhaps this website can help provide some new information for your family tree.

New Jersey adoptees pleased with new law

The New Jersey Department of Health's new law will "make it easier for adopted children to find information about their birth parents and their ancestry ... Beginning in 2017, an adult adopted child can request to see — and obtain a non-certified copy of — their original birth record ... The only people allowed to request an original birth certificate in the case of an adoption are: an adult adopted child; a direct descendant, sibling or spouse of the adopted child; an adoptive parent or other legal guardian of a minor adopted child; or a state or federal agency for official purposes."

Read the article at for more information.

New 'Research in the States' books published

The National Genealogical society (NGS) recently announced its publication of two new books in its Research in the States series. The new books pertain to researching in Florida and Texas and are available for purchase in the NGS store ( in both PDF and print versions. There are now a total of 24 such state research guides available (including one for Illinois.) To contact NGS, write NGS, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22204-4370; phone 800-473-0060; fax 703-525-0052.

"Founded in 1903, the NGS is dedicated to genealogical education, exemplary standards of research, and the preservation of genealogical records."

Convict registers online

The Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group has transcribed the convict registers of the Alson Prison (1833 to 1860) and the Joliet/Statewide Prison (1860-1975). These indexes can be searched, free, at Be sure to read the Introduction for information on years covered, etc. One can click on a link to an alphabetical index (a work in progress) or click on a name within an Illinois county (except Cook County names are in a separate database as are Wyoming Territory names, and names with "unknown counties.")

One may also click on a link to Prisoners in the Southern Illinois Penitentiary in Chester, Randolph County, as taken from the 1880 census.

The Illinois Genealogy Trails' website states, "The Joliet Correctional Center is the oldest of Illinois' four maximum security facilities. Thirty-three inmates were first received at Joliet in May 1858 ... In December 1872, Joliet had an inmate population of 1,239 making it the largest prison in the U.S., a distinction it held for several decades."

The Illinois Genealogy Trails has also posted (at a List of Convicts in the Illinois State Prison (Alton) who were pardoned, died or escaped from 1 Jan 1855 to 31 Dec 1858. Each entry includes name, date, county, crime and disposition.

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.