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Illinois Genealogy Resources

Directories

Directories have been published for various Illinois cities and counties since the 1830s, though they may not exist for every year. Some directories focus on the businesses or occupations of an area, while others include heads of households, landowners, and voters.

City and county directories are similar to present-day telephone books and are useful records for locating people. They were often published annually, listing heads of households, employed household members, and their occupations and addresses. They can be used with census records or as substitutes for them.

Directories are particularly helpful for research in large cities where a high percentage of the people were renters, new arrivals, or temporary residents. In fact, a directory may be the only source that lists a person if he was not registered to vote and did not own property. Most households were included because the directories were created for salesmen, merchants, and others interested in contacting residents of an area.

Directories have other clues that may require careful study to discover. For example, people in similar or related occupations were often relatives, in-laws, or friends. A year-by-year study of directories may reveal the movements of ancestors and relatives within the city and sometimes to or from other cities.

The Family History Library has various directories from throughout the state of Illinois. Many were published as county directories listing inhabitants of major towns in the county. Rural directories collected information on farmers, dairymen, and other rural residents.

The Newberry Library, the Chicago Historical Society (Clark Street at North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614), and other libraries have excellent collections of city and county directories.

The earliest dates of city/town directories in Illinois are:

Adrian 1867- Jacksonville 1890- Rockford 1857-
Alton 1858- Joliet 1861- Rock Island 1855-
Belleville 1860- Kankakee 1896- Springfield 1855-
Bloomington 1870- Keywest 1887- Sterling 1890-
Cairo 1864- Lake 1885- Streator 1898-
Canton 1893- LaSalle 1891- Waukegan 1895-
Chicago 1839- Lincoln 1889- Bureau Co. 1858-
Danville 1889- Lockport 1866- Coles Co. 1894-
Decatur 1889- Maywood 1896- Livingston Co. 1898-
Evanston 1887- Moline 1860- McLean Co. 1887-
Freeport 1896- Oak Park 1887- Randolph Co. 1859-
Galena 1847- Ottawa 1888- Sangamon Co. 1866-
Harlem 1896- Pekin 1870- Will Co. 1859-
Hyde Park 1883- Peoria 1844- Northern Illinois 1855-
Irving Park 1899- Quincy 1848-  
  • City directory for Danville, Tilton, & Richland, Illinois from 1944. 327 pages of directory listings, 575 pages total.
     
  • City directory for Peoria including East Peoria, Bartonville and Peoria Heights, Illinois from 1941. 712 pages of directory listings, 1164 pages total.
     
  • City directory for Peoria including East Peoria, Bartonville and Peoria Heights, Illinois from 1948. 599 pages of directory listings, 1039 pages total.
     
  • City directory for Rock Island including Meline, East Meline and Silvis, Illinois from 1941. 591 pages of directory listings, 882 pages total.
     
  • City directory for Rockford, Illinois from 1941. 735 pages of directory listings, 1074 pages total.
     
  • Directory of the City of Chicago Illinois for 1843
     
  • 1844 Chicago City Directory
     
  • Illinois City Directories. Lists city directories and locations at various major libraries.
     
  • Illinois City Directories Online Search
     
  • Illinois (State) Directories. Woodbridge, Conn: Research Publications, 1980–84. (FHL fiche 6043985–989 [set of 41]; computer number 654004.) The original directories in this collection were published between 1847 and 1860 by various publishers.
     
  • Lurie Index of People in Chicago in 1937 As Well As All of the Voters’ Registration for Chicago. Tucson, Ariz.: Reproduction, 19–?.
     
  • Rockford & Loves Park City Directory pages 558, and over 956 total pages.