Local History

The Illinois Collection at Bloomington Public Library offers patrons resources to research family and local history. The collection contains books about McLean County, city directories, and more. The Pantagraph and other local newspapers dating back to the 1860s are available on microfilm. 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 Adult Services Desk. 

Fragile or rare materials are housed in the Illinois Room Locked Case. This material is currently unavailable due to building project construction.

Bloomington Public Library offers online resources which give patrons access to articles and photos pertaining to local history. Genealogy assistance is also available. For more information or to make a request, please visit the Genealogy Assistance Request Form

African American Heritage

African American Heritage by Proquest logo

Search primary sources devoted specifically to African American family history. This resource also includes exclusive partnership with AfriGeneas -- a popular networking site devoted to African American genealogy -- for direct access to expert advice, moderated forums, chats, mailing lists, surname registry, and more. For more information please view this video on African American Heritage by ProQuest.

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Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry Library Edition logo

With Ancestry Library Edition, patrons can access genealogical information using this popular resource which offers family history data for over 500 million names, census information for 1790-1930, city directories, military records, and much more. Online tutorials are available.

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Archivegrid logo

Search for historical documents, personal papers and family histories held in archives throughout the world with ArchiveGrid.

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Black Freedom Struggles in the United States

Black Freedom Struggles in the United States logo

This curated collection features open primary source documents such as historical newspaper articles, pamphlets, diaries, correspondence and more from specific time periods in U.S. history marked by the opposition African Americans have faced on the road to freedom. This resource supports a wide range of students, from middle and high school to college, and anyone interested in learning more about the ongoing Black Freedom Struggle. No library card is required to access this collection.

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Black Life in America

Black Life in America logo

From Black-owned newspapers to mainstream publications, this primary source collection offers an expansive window onto centuries of African American history, culture, and daily life-as well as the ways the dominant culture has portrayed and perceived people of African descent. Packed with information unavailable elsewhere, Black Life in America is updated daily and sourced from more than 19,000 American and global news sources, including over 400 African American publications. Access is available 24/7. Online tutorials are available.


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Bloomington-Normal City Directories (1854-1920)

McLean County Museum of History Logo

After partnering with McLean County Museum of History to house Bloomington Public Library's priceless collection of historical documents, the City Directory from 1854-1920 is now digitized and available for convenient access. Students, researchers, and community residents now have improved access to examine this treasure trove of material.

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Bloomington-Normal Local History

Bloomington Normal Local History logo

Through Bloomington-Normal Local History, patrons can view selected images from Bloomington Public Library's Illinois Collection Picture File. These photos relate to the history of the City of Bloomington, the Town of Normal, McLean County, and the surrounding communities.

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Fold3 by Ancestry logo

Find stories, photos, documents, and military records for the men and women who served our country using this military genealogy database. Fold3 helps you discover and share stories of the everyday heroes, forgotten soldiers, and the families who supported them. Online tutorials are available. 


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HeritageHub logo

Providing access to hundreds of years of obituaries and death notices from thousands of newspapers across the United States. This one-of-a-kind collection helps Patrons and family historians uncover new family members and understand family relationships on a deeper level than ever before. Online tutorials are available. 


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HeritageQuest logo

This family history resource, HeritageQuest includes U.S. federal census information, family genealogies, local histories, tax lists, city directories, land and probate records, birth records, marriage records, death records, genealogical and local history serials, and more. Online tutorials are available. 


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Home Town in the Corn Belt

Home Town in the Corn Belt logo

The McLean County Museum of History recently digitized all five-volumes of "Home town in the Corn Belt" which debuted in late December of 1950. The volumes contain 171 articles with 39 biographical sketches and 52 poems relating to local history. With 132 authors contributing to the 1,740 pages, these collections offer a wealth of primary and secondary source material to support local history research. 

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Newspapers.com, Pantagraph Archive 1857-1925

Newspapers.com logo

Access dozens of historical Illinois newspapers, including the Daily Pantagraph 1857-1925, the Weekly Pantagraph 1848-1925, and the Bloomington Observer 1838. 


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Pantagraph - Negative Collection: 1933-1959

The Pantagraph logo

Nearly 86,000 photos taken between 1933-1959 by photographers for The Pantagraph have been digitally restored and preserved and can be viewed online at no charge. Work continues to restore and preserve the negatives in this collection which date 1960-2000. 


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Pantagraph - Online

The Pantagraph logo

Find full-text articles about local news, issues, events, people and more as you search the Bloomington Pantagraph archives from 1989 - today. Updated daily, the archive includes obituaries, editorials, announcements, sports, real estate and more. Online tutorials are available.


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Pantagraph - the full issues starting Jan. 1, 2019

The Pantagraph logo

Read full issues of this daily newspaper from Jan. 1, 2019, through the present. Earlier dates are available on microfilm. To search The Pantagraph for specific articles, use The Pantagraph Online (Newsbank) database. This resource is only available for use when you're inside the library.

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Post Amerikan

Post Amerikan logo

The Post Amerikan was Bloomington-Normal's underground alternative newspaper published from 1972 to 2004, making its 32 years the longest continuous publication run for any underground newspaper in America. This historic newspaper is now available online due to a collaboration between the McLean County Museum of History, owner of an archive of nearly all the Post Amerikan's 32-year-run of issues, and EIU's Booth Library.

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State Journal-Register

State Journal-Register logo

Explore Springfield area history through local news, events, and people using the State Journal-Register Collection. Search current and archived issues with full-color newspaper pages, full-text articles, and content only published online. 


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