Monday, February 15, 2021

Spotlight on DeWitt County, Illinois

DeWitt County is located in central Illinois.  It was formed in 1839 from Macon and McLean Counties. It was named for the seventh Governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton, and the county seat is the city of Clinton.

Birth and death records have been kept since 1878.  Marriage records, Probate files and Land Records date to the founding of the county.  Many of the early records may be found on

These records may also be requested in writing from the County Courthouse at 201 W. Washington St., Clinton, IL  61727.  Records are also found at the IRAD depository at Illinois State University.  In addition to vital records, the IRAD has naturalization records and Justice of the Peace dockets.

The Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton has some collections of local genealogical interest.  These include yearbooks, newspapers, and civil war diaries, among others. They can be found at  This library also holds the collection of the Dewitt County Genealogical Society.  More information about this society can be found at


Note: This was originally published in the "County Spotlight" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (November 2020).  

Monday, February 01, 2021

Tip - Where can I find old newspapers?

Q. Where can I find old newspapers?

A. Old newspapers can give us so much information about our ancestors’ lives.  In addition to major life events such as birth announcements, marriage notices, and obituaries, we can learn everyday details.  Newspapers often reported on social happenings, such as which family members were visiting from out of town.  Court proceedings ranging from land transfers and divorces to criminal cases were frequently newsworthy.

A good place to start to find a newspaper of interest is at the library in that town.  They often have microfilmed copies of their newspapers.  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield has a large collection of microfilmed newspapers from around the state.  Their holdings are listed at:

There are several online collections for Illinois newspapers.  The University of Illinois has an Illinois Digital Newspaper collection at  Several libraries around the state have also digitized area newspapers, such as Marshall Public Library at .      More sites are going online all the time.

There are also several online repositories for newspapers from around the country.  Many are subscription sites but there are free sites as well.  The Library of Congress has the largest free collection of US Newspapers at  And some digitized newspapers can be found on Google at


Note: This was originally published in the "Tips from the Genealogy Committee" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (November 2020).  While these tips were written for those researching Illinois ancestors, many of the principles can be applied to other locations.