Getting Started: Interviewing your immediate elder family is a first step for everyone.
You can also do much of the initial genealogy research online with the links provided here. 

Looking for an obituary or other past news article?

If you’re looking for an obituary that was published in a Southern Illinois newspaper, you can email a librarian to look up the obituary you’re seeking and send you a copy. This service is free! All we need you to provide is the person’s name, his or her date of death, and your contact information. You also contact the Herrin History Room Researcher, Lisa Carnaghi, to book time to do research in the Herrin History Room. Use of the Herrin History Room is by appointment only. 

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Herrin City Library Subscriptions

Use these services while you are here at the library to find detailed information about ancestry. Most of these resources also offer either a free trial or limited access to information if you are unable to come to the library. (See below for free resources on the internet.)  – In Library Use Subscription

This, of course, is the most popular genealogy website on the internet, and with good reason. It has literally millions of genealogy records on the site from all over the world for you to peruse, as well as millions of other members with whom you may share ancestry who you can contact.  Most records are indexed, but you can browse the ones that aren’t, and records are mostly digitized, as well. You can even find old photos of your ancestors on this site. There is something here for everyone, no matter from where your family hails. & NewspaperArchive.comLibrarian’s Subscription Only

We have a librarian use only subscription to both of these, so please use the Send A Message link above to send us a question or article request. 


Database of Illinois Death Certificates, 1916-1950

Use this database to find death certificates filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health between 1916 and 1950. Once you uncover an ancestor’s death certificate, come visit us at the library to search for his or her obituary on microfilm. This database is maintained by the Illinois State Archives in Springfield.

Free Genealogy Websites

Here is a list of the top genealogy websites for beginners to get you started in the right direction. With these websites, you can get the information you need to put more branches on your family tree, increase your skills and go deeper with your genealogy research.


This is a free website that has dozens upon dozens of articles on genealogy and how to do it, where to find records, how to share information with other genealogists and preserving historical artifacts. This is more of an informational website than a records-finding website, but do spend some time looking at the articles and reading them. You will learn a lot about genealogy and how to get started with your search the proper way.

  1. Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection

This collection contains 118 newspaper titles, 139,488 issues comprising 1,480,288 pages and 6,887,660 articles. Since 2005, the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library at the University of Illinois has been developing unique digital newspaper content. The works collected here include digital facsimiles of newspapers and trade journals in a variety of fields. Users may search, browse, tag, and correct OCR text to improve search-ability and access

  1. AfriGeneas

This free website is a hub for those who are doing African-American genealogy. It includes educational articles and resources, beginner guides and how-to’s, as well as access to send messages to other users. You will also find birth, death, surname, and slave databases here, all perfect for tracing your African-American ancestry.

  1. Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

The boundaries of counties within the United States have changed over the centuries, sometimes many times. This can make tracing your ancestors a challenge when you think the record you need will be in one county, but it is actually in another because of changing boundaries. This website shows you how and when county boundaries changed, so you will always know the correct place to look for the genealogical records you need to conduct your research.


This is a free website with a huge database of tombstone images, each of which is GPS tagged. You can upload images from your phone and add personal information on the people behind the stones, or use the database to search for the stones and information of your own ancestors.

  1. Chronicling America

This is another free website which is owned by the Library of Congress. It is a portal to digitized historic newspapers from twenty-five different states and Washington, D.C., dating from 1836 to 1922. There is also an index to every known newspaper published right now, and where to find them. New content is added all the time and is a terrific place for finding interesting information on your ancestors that you might not find anywhere else.


This famous, free website is owned by the Church of Latter Day Saints (aka the Mormons), famous for its devotion to genealogy. You will find millions of free digitized records from all over the world right here. In fact, the site is like a free version of, without the DNA and easy ability to contact other members. may have more records, but FamilySearch has some that Ancestry does not have, and vice-versa. Using the two sites together can really fill in those gaps in your genealogy research.


Another free website, this one has a plethora of genealogical tools geared toward beginners. There are free forms, cheat sheets, how-to articles, and past issues of the magazine. This is a real family magazine, too, with projects designed for adults to do with kids to get kids interested in genealogy.


This is a famous free website similar to It just has better name recognition. You can upload tombstone photos and biographical information on ancestors, and look up the same information on ancestors you may not know as much about as other genealogists.

  1. US GenWeb Project

This free website is a cornucopia of genealogical information from around the world. With different sections for countries, states, and counties, users contribute information to the site. Some sections of the site are sponsored by a “caretaker,” while others are not, so the quality of each section varies. However, since it is user-submitted content, you will find plenty of unique things here that will be of use to your genealogy research that you won’t find anywhere else on the internet.

  1. Ellis Island: The Statue of Liberty

This website will let you search for your relative’s arrival in their database of 51 million+ passenger records. Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Become part of our “living” and interactive digital exhibit on historic Ellis Island, which features a mosaic of personally submitted portraits throughout the generations.

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