Genealogy Research

This is a curated list of databases* the District subscribes to and websites we use for information. When accessing databases we subscribe to from outside of our Branches, you will be prompted to enter your library card number to obtain access. Please note that Ancestry® Library Edition may only be accessed from inside our Branches.

*Databases have an asterisk * after their name.

White Oak Library District is pleased to offer the special Library edition of Ancestry.com, the gold standard of genealogy databases. However, there is no "one stop shopping" for people seeking their family history. Below is a list of resources compiled by the Library that you may find helpful in your genealogy work. Some of them require you sign in with a Library card number, a good card to have no matter what you are researching! Good luck on your quest to discover your heritage. 

African American Genealogy Records is useful to researchers who have African American ancestry. This site compiles records that pertain to African Americans and date back to the nineteenth century.

Ancestry® Library Edition* is distributed exclusively by ProQuest and powered by Ancestry.com, delivers billions of records in census data, vital records, directories, photos, and more. Ancestry Library Edition brings the world’s most popular consumer online genealogy resource to your library. It’s an unprecedented online collection of individuals from North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and more. Answers await everyone—whether professional or hobbyist, expert or novice, genealogist or historian—inside the more than 7,000 available databases. Here, you can unlock the story of you with sources like censuses, vital records, immigration records, family histories, military records, court and legal documents, directories, photos, maps, and more. In-Library use only

BillionGraves.com is a great website to search gravesites. This site uses searchable GPS cemetery database, which continues to grow.  

Chicago Tribune Archives contain their most extensive repository of news, dating back to 1849. Stories, photos, comics, obituaries, classified and display advertising—all as they were presented in print.

Cyndislist.com has a large list of sites that can assist with your genealogical research. The sources are broken down into categories (ie. countries, vital records, maps, waterways, religion and churches, etc.) so you can narrow your search.

FamilyResearch.org requires users to create an account, but it is free. They work tirelessly to preserve and share the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world. They strive to create and link the best and most valuable research resources to help people discover who they are by exploring where they come from. For over 100 years, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide.

FindaGrave.com allows researchers to search over 150 million grave records. Research information can also be added.

HeritageQuest Online* provides American genealogical resources including the United States Federal Census, local history books, Revolutionary War Era Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application files, and Freedman's Bank records.

Illinois State Archives has many sources, including death and marriage indexes, court files, emancipation records, and veteran indexes, you can use to research your ancestors if they were born or lived in Illinois.

MyHeritage.com is similar to Ancestry and HeritageQuest. It allows you to conduct a wide search, providing you with census records, birth and death records, marriage records, and provides primary sources from countries outside the U.S. There is also an app that can be downloaded onto a smart phone so you can continue your research and family tree when you are not near a computer or laptop. 

Native American Heritage is an excellent source to help people research their Native American heritage. It provides great sources, including oral histories, tribal enrollment records, and government records.

National Archives provides genealogical research tips and charts to help keep your research organized. This site is limited with the amount of primary sources available, but you can contact the National Archives to schedule a research appointment or to request primary sources you need for your genealogy research. NARA has an office in Chicago. The address is 7358 South Pulaski Rd., and this branch serves the Midwest (IL, IN, WI, MI, MN, OH). Phone number is (773) 948-9000. 

Public Records Electronic Database* compiles public information from Will, Cook and surrounding counties and includes new homeowners and mortgages, new business licenses and incorporations, tax liens, tax sales for property, and foreclosures and bankruptcies.

US Gen Web Project only contains sources from the United States. You can research records and various websites listed by state. Some states might be limited with the amount of sources available.

World Vital Records* is massive library with billions of Family History and Genealogy records, and millions of family trees. It includes COMPLETE U.S. Federal Census images/layoutimages and indexes from 1790 to 1940; military records; enhanced Social Security Death Index (SSDI) records; millions of newspaper articles; and unique, exclusive local and international collections.