Thanks again to Tom, one of my colleagues, who previously contributed information to me about the smallest cemetery in Illinois. He has also just sent me some information on Illinois Online Historical Newspapers. Thank you Tom!
A site called the Ancestor Hunt has posted information on the update to the Illinois Online Historical Newspapers. As the site notes, over 8,000 newspapers have been published in Illinois throughout its history. Granted, all are not available online. But many are and more come online as remnants of paper copies that still exist are being digitized.
The blog post has a long list of links to these various online historical newspapers. They are not really all organized by geographical areas. They are not really all organized by name of newspaper or the town in which it may have been published. Do you see what I am saying? You almost have to just peruse the long list within the categories to see if you discover something that might be for a town of interest in your genealogical research.
My one gripe on digital newspapers in general is how they are presented. Most of us that lived in a large city like Chicago should be able to come up with the names of the top papers of the city. But if you are from a rural area or researching a rural area, the generic name of a newspaper often does not connect you to a geographic location for you to know it might have a connection to an ancestor you are researching.
Does the name of a newspaper titled “The Prairie Farmer” help you know what geographic areas it serves? Rock Island? Decatur? Springfield?
Does the “Daily Gazette” help you know from where it was published? Rockford? Peoria? Carbondale?
So unfortunately, you just have to peruse and open up some of the links to these newspapers to see if they might have a connection geographically to the area of your Illinois ancestors.
These are fun to just open and peruse through some newspapers that might have been published as far back as the 1830s. Remember, there is very little “white” space in these papers. Ink is everywhere which can make it tiring on the eyes to read through a good amount. And these pages are full, beyond full with the news of the day.
Here is a link to the site of many lists to Illinois Online Historical Newspapers:
The Ancestor Hunt Blog: Illinois Online Historical Newspapers
Also, don’t be surprised to discover that where you think you hit the jackpot and found a paper for a town of an ancestor, you might sadly find that there are only 3 issues of the paper online rather than multiple years worth for you to really dig deep into. It could be that only those particular physical paper copy issues still existed. Or it could be that more will be digitized and will appear at a later date. My guess, it is likely that only the 3 issues may be known to exist at all. Sad but true. Storing old copies of old newspapers took up a lot of space. At some point you ran out of storage and chose to not save such material for historical purposes down the road. Who knows?
So enjoy what you can find that can help you expand your own research on ancestors connected to some of the newspapers that are online. Even if a newspaper does not connect you to an ancestor, it is enjoyable to browse through just as a picture of history and the words that were contained on that very day of the issue.
You will know more about your ancestor and what their lives may have been like just by knowing the news of the day for these localized areas.
Schaumburg Township District Library