Family History Research

A visit to IRAD at NIU

I visited the IRAD at NIU (Northern IL University) in DeKalb yesterday. My experience there was slightly different than my experience at IRAD at NEIU last month. At NIU, IRAD has a policy that you are only allowed to use one roll of microfilm at a time. When you are finished with that one, they will give you another roll. They also only have one microfilm machine in the reading room. The intern I worked with was very helpful and answered all my questions.

I much prefer to be given several rolls of film at a time so when I’m finished with one, I can go directly to another roll without wasting the time of getting up and down and waiting to be given the next roll, or as one case yesterday, waiting while the intern went to the basement to get a Probate book for me to look at. I waited at least 15 minutes for her to return and in that time I could have finished looking up the other records I wanted.

That was my experience yesterday.

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Illinois Regional Archives Depository – a wonderful resource

I am preparing to visit the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Northern IL University on Monday to research for a client. When I visited the IRAD at Northeastern IL University a few weeks ago, my son and I were the only ones there. In the past I have always sent letters requesting record searches as I did not have time to run up for one record, but after experiencing the archives, it is a place I plan to utilize as much as possible.

In Illinois there are several IRAD branches that cover certain counties in the state.  You can view the IRAD Region Map and click on one of the branches (NEIU, NIU, WIU, ISU, UIS, EIU, SIU, to see which county records are held. The map is color coded by region.

To find out what records each repository holds you can click the blue bar on the left that says IRAD Local Government Records Database and click search. You can either search by county or repository or type of record.  The website says, This database provides a listing of the local governmental records held by the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) system. Local governmental records include those from county, city, town, village, and township levels throughout Illinois. Numerous offices are represented from these levels. The record holdings of the IRAD system include over 5,400 different record series.

For each record series the following information is included: depository, accession number, title, county, beginning date and ending date.”

Many of the branches hold early birth, marriage and death records; naturalization records; probate and will records; in addition to local governmental records like court; license and permit registrations.

If you cannot visit an IRAD branch in person, you can write to them requesting up to two names to be researched at a time. They do charge a copy fee, minimum $1, even if they only copy one page. They will bill you when they send your copy(ies). They will also send sheets listing additional resources in the county(ies) you are researching.

IRAD is a wonderful system in the State of Illinois. Check it out if you have Illinois ancestors.

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