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Illinois State Records and Chicago

If you have ancestors from Illinois, the state archives have placed indexes of many of their records and collections online for searching by the public. The variety of departments is enormous. Some of the materials are from police, mining, banks, Civil War rosters, schools, Illinois Centennial, state legislative, World War I and II, veterans and others.

There is a general search box at the top of the page. However, information for browsing is divided into tabs titled ‘Record Series’, ‘Subjects’, ‘Agencies’ and ‘Record Groups’ – placed in alphabetical order. Under subjects searching by dates, surnames, geographic names and occupations are some of the more useful areas for the family researcher to review. The main objective is to provide the researcher with an index of what is available. Once that is known then reviewing actually copies or digital ones is the next step.

Using the Illinois State Archives online database is the next best place to search. Their military records and old soldiers’ home records are excellent. Also available are the marriage and death indexes along with indexes for probate, court, almshouse and coroner files. A reminder, these are indexes with basic information. A good example are the listings of homicide cases in Chicago from 1870 to 1930. It will provide the name of the decease, the date, person involved with the killing and then the volume and page of the main record. If you find an ancestor listed you have a great starting point to then find the entire record. Always start with a surname since the given names can be done as initials or partially written.

To go along with researching homicides and other crimes in the city of Chicago is the following online site titled ‘Homicide in Chicago 1870 – 1930‘. Many details are covered of some of the most famous killings as well as the lesser known ones. Just placing the surname ‘Johnson’ produced 128 cases and the name ‘Wilson’ some 41 cases – some where the person was the victim, a witness, a lawyer, judge or the criminal.

So with any relatives in Illinois or especially Chicago, you will want to look over these sites.

Photo: Musso murder case, Mrs. Antonia Musso and daughter Catherine standing in a room. Murder of Antonia’s husband, Peter in April 1912, the defendant being Antonia. Peter was shot and then set on fire. Antonia was acquitted by April 1914.

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