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Genealogy & Local History

ancestry.com - This genealogy website gives you access to a wide variety of databases; census records, military records, immigration records, and much more.
FamilySearch - We are now a FamilySearch Affiliate Library! Free genealogy database maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fold3-provides convenient access to military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served.

Access from Home

  FindAGrave.com- (Free resource-FR) Find information about cemeteries and the people buried there; create and edit memorials with a free account.
Newspapers logo

Newspapers.com-The largest online newspaper archive, established in 2012. Used by millions for genealogy and family history, historical research, crime investigations, journalism, and entertainment. Search for obituaries, marriage announcements, birth announcements, social pages, national and local news articles, sports, advertisements, entertainment, fashion and lifestyle pages, comics, and more. Everything you’d expect in the paper—and maybe something you didn't!

Accessible in the library and at home with a Joliet Public Library Card.

newspapers archive

Explore your family history and discover key historical events with NewspaperArchive.com, one of the world's largest online newspaper archives.



The Genealogy/Local History collection, housed at the Ottawa Street Branch, includes:

  • Books about Joliet and/or Will County history
  • Joliet newspapers on microfilm from 1846 to present
  • Will County directories in print for 1859-60 and 1872-73
  • Joliet city directories from 1875 to present, in print and/or on microfilm
  • Joliet telephone directories as far back as 1908
  • Will County atlases and plat books.
  • Joliet high school and Illinois college/university yearbooks
  • Printed obituary indexes for 1915-18 and 1976-2012
  • Funeral brochures for African-Americans of Joliet and Lockport, Illinois for 1968-2012.
  • Vertical files, consisting of archival materials concerning Joliet and Will County history and events

Computers for local history, genealogy and digitization purposes can also be found in the Local History section. 


Researching Your Family History Online

Members of the public are welcome to come to the Joliet Public Library Ottawa Street Branch and search items in our Genealogy/Local History collection. Microfilm copies can be made at no charge. 

The staff of the library will search microfilmed editions of Joliet newspapers for obituaries, marriage and birth announcements, or other articles of interest. Due to the large number of pages published by Joliet newspapers, we will only do a search if you can give us at least the month and year that the event you wish searched occurred. Requests can be made by calling the Adult Services department of the Ottawa Street Branch at 815-740-2666, or by using our online Reference Request form.

Newspaper Archives

Chronicling America https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/  
(FR) Search digitized U.S. newspapers (1777-1963) and the U.S. Newspaper Directory (1690-present).

Fulton History - https://www.fultonhistory.com/ and https://fultonsearch.org/  
(FR) Search more than 47 million digitized newspaper pages on FultonSearch.org and postcards, yearbooks, videos, and more on FultonHistory.com.

Google News Archive https://news.google.com/newspapers  (FR) Search newspapers from the 1700s onwards in 23 different languages.

Digital Collections

Biblioboard  Library of Illinois - https://Illinois.biblioboard.com/  (FR) Browse 150+ books from Arcadia Publishing and the History Press about Chicago and Illinois History. 30+ Illinois community collections and many more free books, video and audio.

Digital Public Library of America - https://dp.la/guides/the-family-research-guide-to-dpla (FR) Search 44 million images, text, video, and audio from cultural institutions across the United States.

Europeana https://www.europeana.eu/en  (FR) Search millions of books, music, artwork, and more from cultural institutions across Europe.

Google Books - https://books.google.com/ (FR) Search 40 million books and magazines; download books in the public domain and search others.

Hathi Trust Digital Library - https://www.hathitrust.org/ (FR) Search 17 million books, periodicals, and more; 39% of the collection is available for download.

ILGenWeb History Project - https://illinoisgenweb.org/ (FR) The compilation is a special project devoted solely to the history of the state.  

Internet Archive - https://archive.org/ (FR) Search millions of books, videos, audio, and more; pre-1926 books are available for download

Lewis University Digital Archives - lewisu.libguides.com/az.php?/ includes local artwork. I&M Canal research papers, and historic Joliet photographs.

World Digital Library https://www.wdl.org/en/ (FR) Search more than 19,000 historically significant books, maps, manuscripts, and more.

Sanborn Maps - https://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps/  (FR) Detailed maps of U.S. towns and cities from the 19th and 20th centuries.


 History of the Main Library (Ottawa Street Branch)




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