Check Out The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections; Full-Text Searchable; Browse Through Newspaper Titles And Issues

Hi Everyone!

Digital Newspaper ImageThanks to a group of Genealogy Librarians that I participate with, I have been made aware of another nice online tool that could help with your genealogy research.

It is called “The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections”.

You can find it at:

Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections

Here is a small description of what it is that can be found at the site:


Welcome to the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections.

This collection contains 45 newspaper titles, 93,011 issues comprising 1,112,621 pages and 7,160,392 articles.

Since 2005, the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library at the University of Illinois has been developing unique digital newspaper content. The works collected here include digital facsimilies of newspapers and trade journals in a variety of fields. Users may search, browse, tag, and correct OCR text to improve searchability and access.


These do not appear to be large-scale newspapers from large metropolitan areas.  Most appear to be from very “rural” areas.  I wish the developers had included a connection to the name of the newspaper and the relative geographic area it served.  When you look at the newspaper names you do not know where they are from in Illinois in many cases.  So it can be hard to associate an ancestor from an area of Illinois to a newspaper to search.  Your best bet is to just search the entirety of all newspapers.

You can do full text searching using a simple search box or an “advanced” search box.  You can browse through a list of all of the newspapers in the digital collection.  There is a very nice and lengthy “FAQ” part of the site (Frequently Asked Questions) from which you will gain great insight about the resource and how to use it.

You may discover an interesting newspaper connected to the location of your ancestors but may also find out that a small amount of editions is all that is included in the digital collection.  This is likely if only a small amount of the original newspapers still existed from which to make digital copies.  So you could encounter some disappointments with minimal amounts of digital material.

You may also discover the omnipresent problem of the actual digitization process that may scan a name incorrectly.  I have this happen frequently for my name KIERNA.  The name KIERNA may appear in the search results index but when you look at the actual newspaper image, the real name in the actual newspaper is KIERNAN.  This happens because some of the ink fades and the scanning process does the best it can but it picks up the name incorrectly into the index.

Again, you may encounter more disappointment.

I actually did discover a newspaper article about the death of a related ancestor in 1914 as the result of a motorcycle accident as reported in the Rock Island Argus.

You can save the full image page of the newspaper as a PDF or save all of the text of the page as a text file.  It looks better to save as a PDF and then zoom in on the article on the page of interest to you.

You can also e-mail the image to yourself for any discoveries.  Just look at the top right upper part of the page for the icons, one of which is an envelope, another is a “+” sign.  I tried using the envelope icon to mail and I did not receive anything.  I tried using the “+” sign and saw a list of options to share the material.  You will find Facebook, Twitter and many other areas to share including a simple “Email App”.  I used that and I was able to get the email to me that contained the link to the page where my research material is contained.

It is worth adding this resource to your list to use when researching Illinois ancestors.  It is a relatively small collection of online searchable material, but you can still find something just like I did.  The data will continue to grow within this resource as more digitization takes place in the future.

Give it a try!

Thanks to all my library colleagues that shared this among all of us.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library



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