This issue of Gateway Family Historian focuses on the Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD).
The IRAD system consists of seven Depository Libraries in which county genealogical records of long-term value have been stored. Each Depository holds the records from the 14-23 counties in its region (except the Depository at Northeast Illinois University, which holds records for Cook County and the City of Chicago). Each also holds a wide variety of records, including vital records, land and marriage records, and naturalization records. There is an IRAD Local Governmental Records Database on-line and a comparable guide to IRAD record holdings in book form. You can find more information on the IRAD system at www.sos.state.il.us/departments/archives/archives.html.
Researchers are welcome to visit IRAD facilities in person or contact them by telephone or mail. IRAD libraries cannot, at this time, accept e-mail requests. The IRAD library for Southern Illinois counties is located in the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL, 62901-6632. The library is closed Saturdays and Sundays, state holidays, and those times when the University is between classes, so phone ahead (618-453-3040) if you plan to visit.
The Illinois State Historical Library (ISHL) has large collections of books, maps, manuscripts, photographs newspapers, and other periodicals relating to overland journeys, midwestern settlements, the Northwest Territory, American Indian tribes, the Civil War and other American wars, Abraham Lincoln, and historical and genealogical information. ISHL owns approximate 172,000 books, 3,000 maps, and 1,200 periodicals. Photocopies of published materials are available for a nominal fee (if photocopying will not cause harm to the items in questions).
ISHLs Audiovisual Collection contains over 350,000 photographs, 2,500 films and videotapes, 1,000 oral history transcripts, and 3,800 tapes. There are also numerous photographs of Illinois Civil War soldiers (some taken during the war, some after). Most of the photographs in the collection can be copied for a fee by the library staff.
ISHL also houses 4,900 newspaper titles, which are preserved on nearly 73,000 microfilm reels. As the mandated newspaper repository in Illinois, the library holds at least one newspaper title for all 102 counties. Many of the newspapers date from the early and mid-19th century and include many published during the Civil War. A special card file is available, which lists newspaper references to particular Illinois Civil War regiments.
The Librarys newspaper collection had been cataloged through the nationwide program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Researchers may borrow newspaper on microfilm through interlibrary loan.
The ISHL newspaper collection may be searched online at the Illinois newspaper Project site: www.library.uiuc.edu/techserv/inp/webpages/main.htm.
Appointments are required to use the Audiovisual, Manuscript, or Lincoln Special Collections. For the information, call 217-785-7955 or visit www.state.il.us/hpa/lib/.
ISHL is located in the Old State Capitol in Springfield Springfield, IL. To reach a staff member call: Manuscripts: 217-785-7942; Audiovisual 217-785-7955; Lincoln: 217-785-7954. ISHL does not accept e-mail queries at this time.
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