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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Genealogy Resources

A guide to finding genealogical materials at the University of Illinois Library.

Local Histories

The Library has a voluminous collection of county and town histories.  Many of these were microfilmed in the 1980s and 1990s by University Microfilms and included in the HeritageQuest database.  To find these in the online catalog, go to "Advanced Search." Type the name of the locality (county or town) in the first search box, and type "history" in the second search box, selecting "subject" from the drop down menu.

Local history for Illinois is classified in the Dewey range: 977.31 – 977.39

Examples of local histories:

City Directories

The Library holds city directories for communities throughout the country, dating in many cases from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.  For example, we have the New York city directory (Q.917.471 N489) from 1846/47  to 1933/34 (with gaps); the Cleveland city directory (Q.917.7132 C599) from 1872/73 to 1942; scattered volumes of the Milwaukee city directory from 1923 to 1954; the Albany city directory from 1844/45 to 1948/49; and the Minneapolis city directory from 1880/81 to 1931. 

City directories can be tricky to find in the online catalog.  Start with the "Advanced Search" and type the name of the city in one search box and the word "directories" in another search box.

Most of the city directories are in the bookstacks.  Some of them are shelved with oversized material on deck 2E (call numbers preceded by the letter Q), others are shelved on deck 8W.  They are classified in the Dewey number 917 (Geography of North America), with additional numbers to the right of the decimal indicating region of the country.


The Library of Congress has a digital collection of phone books from its collection:

Professional Directories

Many professional organizations publish a directory of their members, and these can be useful sources of genealogical information.  To identify these directories, you can try combining elements of a subject heading as a Boolean "Advanced Search" (e.g., "physicians" in one search box and "directories" in another, designating subject terms in the drop-down menus on the right).


Biographical Directories

Our collections include tens of thousands of biographical dictionaries, encyclopedias, and directories.  There is a very good two-volume bibliography of biographical sources by Robert Slocum, Biographical Dictionaries and Related Works (Detroit, 1986) located in the Reference Library: Q.016.92 Sl5b 1986.  The library also maintains a list of commonly used electronic resources for biography.


Family Histories

The Library has thousands of family histories published in North America and Western Europe, as well as from other parts of the world.  To find these works, start with the "Advanced Search" in the Library Catalog, and do a keyword search on the last name.


Published Vital Records

Although the vast majority of historical vital records have never been published, there have been notable efforts to publish these materials in the U.S. and England, and our holdings are very respectable.


Military Rosters and Regimental Histories

The best way to identify regimental histories and published rosters of military units in the UIUC collections is to use the formal subject headings, such as:

United States—History—Revolution, 1775-1783—Registers
United States—History—Civil War, 1861-1865—Regimental histories
United States—History—Civil War, 1861-1865—Registers
Confederate States of America.  Army—Registers
Soldiers—Confederate States of America—Registers
Military pensions—United States—War of 1812
United States—History—War of 1812—Registers, lists, etc.
United States—History—King George’s War, 1744-1748—Registers, lists, etc.
Military pensions—United States—Revolution, 1775-1783
Military pensions—Kentucky—Revolution, 1775-1783
Bounties, Military—United States
Mexican War, 1846-1848—Registers
World War, 1914-1918—United States—Registers
World War, 1939-1945—Regimental histories—United States
Spanish-American War, 1898—Registers


Publications of Genealogical Societies


Historical Maps and Gazetteers

The Library has an extensive collection of maps and atlases, including plat maps for many regions of the country.   Maps and atlases are located in the Map and Geography Library, the bookstacks, and the Illinois History and Lincoln Collection.


  • Andriot, John L.  Township Atlas of the United States(McLean, Va., 1987)  Q.912.73 An291t 1987
  • Abate, Frank R., ed.  Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America(Detroit, 1991)  11 vols.  Q.917.3003 Om5  
  • Columbia Gazetteer of the World.  (New York, 1998)  3 vols.  Q.910.3 C723
  • National Gazetteer of the United States of America(1983-  ) [different call numbers for different states]
  • United States Board on Geographic Names.  Gazetteer.  (1955-1990) [series with separate number for each country, e.g., Hungary: Official Standard Names Approved by the United States Board of Geographic Names.  (Gazetteer, no. 52)]

Legal Resources

The U of I Law Library holds the annotated codes and compiled statutes for all fifty states, as well as federal case reports, Illinois case reports, and a compilation of the decisions of other states’ courts.  There is also an extensive collection of legal encyclopedias and dictionaries. 

Miscellaneous Resources

Catalogs of other academic institutions

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, catalogs of American colleges and universities included not only information about courses and faculty, but in many cases also a list of students by undergraduate class or a list of graduating students.  The UIUC Library has a huge collection of the publications of other colleges and universities, particularly before 1970.  In addition to catalogs, for some institutions we have scattered holdings of commencement programs, lists of faculty publications, and yearbooks. 

The Library used a special cataloging code for college publications, starting with the letter C, and these materials are shelved between 378 and 379 in our libraries.  Not all of these catalogs and registers are represented in the online or card catalog, so please ask a reference librarian for help if you don’t find what you’re looking for through the online catalog.  For the most part, these materials are shelved on deck 9.5W of the bookstacks.


  • Catalogue of Dartmouth CollegeC.D25h
  • Columbia College Handbook and Register of Students.  C.C72uI
  • Howard University Catalogue.  C.H83uH

Publications of professional organizations

Many professional societies publish journals and newsletters containing information about individual members.  Some of these can be found in the UIUC Libraries.


  • Cigar Makers’ Official Journal.  (Chicago, 1875- ) 
  • North Carolina Beekeeper.  (Raleigh, 1917- ) 
  • Southern California Professional Engineer.  (Gardena, Calif., 1956-1963) 
  • Air Line Pilot.  (Washington, 1932-1970)
  • Thoroughbred Record.  (Lexington, 1896- )
  • Variety.  (New York, 1905- )

Publications of religious organizations

Throughout the 19th century and most of the 20th century, each major religious denomination in the U.S. published minutes of national and regional meetings, reports of local, regional and national committees, and accounts of missionary work.  Many of these documents record minute detail of the organizational and operational history of the church, with lists of clergy and lay office holders.  These documents are classified by denomination as follows:

  • 281 Eastern Orthodox
  • 282 Roman Catholic
  • 283 Anglican
  • 284 Lutheran
  • 285 Presbyterian, Reformed, and Congregational
  • 286 Baptist, Disciples of Christ, and Adventist
  • 287 Methodist
  • 288 Unitarian
  • 289 Universalist, Quaker, Mennonite, Christian Scientist

In addition, material pertaining to Judaism is classified under 296.  Material about missions may be included in reports of specific churches or may be classified under 266.


  • Methodist Episcopal Church.  Illinois Conference.  Journal of the Illinois Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  (1836- )  287.6M569i
  • Methodist Episcopal Church.  Northwest Iowa Conference.  Official Journal.  (Iowa City, 1883-1941)   287.6 M569nwi
  • American Jewish Year Book.  (Philadelphia, 1899- )   [Volume 2, 1900/01, contains an appendix, "Jews in the Spanish-American War"]
  • The Official Catholic Directory.  (New York, 1886- )  282 Of3  [Arranged by diocese, with lists of clergy, members of orders, school teachers]
  • Unitarian Universalist Association.  Directory.  (Boston, 1962- )  288 Un36d
  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  Synod of Oklahoma.  Minutes of the Synod of Oklahoma(Oklahoma City, 1952- )
  • Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.  Diocese of California.  Journal of the Convention.    283 P94c  [check years and place of publication]