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Family & Local History

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The library's Illinois Collection can help you research your family and local history. The Illinois Collection houses historic books about McLean County, city directories and other resources for research. The library also has an index to the Bloomington Pantagraph newspaper and copies of the newspaper on microfilm.

The Bloomington Public Library has a variety of resources useful for local history and family research. All resources are available for use when the library is open. For assistance in locating or working with any of the resources, please ask a librarian at the Reference Desk. Copy machines are available to copy print resources that do not check out. Copies are 15 cents per copy. The materials in this list are located in the Illinois Room Nonfiction, unless otherwise noted. Some of the materials are fragile or rare and are housed in the Illinois Room Locked Case. To use these materials, ask a librarian at the Reference Desk. Materials housed in the Locked Case do not check out. If you're unable to find what you're looking for at the library, librarians can assist you in placing an interlibrary loan request.

To Be a Writer, One Has To Be a Reader: The Life and Work of Clara Louise Kessler

Candace Summers, Directory of Education at the McLean County Museum of History, gives a talk at the Bloomington Public Library about Clara Louise Kessler, Bloomington-local author, teacher, and librarian on April 14, 2016.

Need help finding local history or family history information? Are you from out of town? The library will research for you for a fee. The charge is $5 for each 30 minutes of research, plus the cost of any copies made (15 cents per page). A "typical" search for an obituary in our local paper costs $5.15. Please email Reference - . Requests are researched on a first-come/first-served basis. You can also ask a librarian at the Reference Desk, 309.828.6091 option 2. If we are unable to supply the answer(s) you are seeking, our librarians often make referrals. Bloomington Public Library reserves the right to limit or refuse research requests.

If you live in the area, we invite you to come and visit with us!

The following resources can help you with your genealogy projects:

Provides electronic editions of record for local, regional, and national U. S. newspapers from the 1980s-present.
This resource is only available in the library.
One of the most popular resources for genealogical information, with family history data for over 500 million names, including census information for 1790-1930, city directories, military records, and much more.
Search for historical documents, personal papers and family histories held in archives throughout the world.
Contains the Chicago Tribune 1849-1992 in full-text PDF format.
Family history resource that includes U.S. federal census, family genealogies, local histories, tax lists, city directories, land and probate records, birth, marriage and death records, genealogical and local history serials, and more.
Access dozens of historical Illinois newspapers, including the Daily Pantagraph 1857-1985, the Weekly Pantagraph 1848-1954, and the Bloomington Observer 1838.
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