Genealogy & Local History


Local History Collection


The DeKalb Public Library’s local history collection is located on the main floor of the library in the Richard Ryan Quiet Room.

Resources include, but are not limited to:

  • DeKalb city directories dating back to 1899
  • Family histories
  • The Daily Chronicle on microfilm dating back to 1871
  • Selected digitized resources are available as part of our Media Library

These reference resources are available only for in-library use, and can be accessed at any time the library is open.

A larger collection of local history materials is available at the DeKalb County History Center.

Appointments are available for one-on-one local history research assistance every Tuesday between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. To make an appointment, contact Britta at [email protected] or (815) 756-9568 ext. 2100.

Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry Library Edition provides in-depth genealogical research tools. Their databases are worldwide and cover censuses, vital records, immigration records, family histories, court and legal documents, military records from the colonial to the Vietnam era; directories, photos, maps, and more. Ancestry Library Edition can only be accessed from within the library building. Search results can be sent to your home email.


Fold3® features premier collections of original military records. These records include the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served in the military. Many of the records come from the U.S. National archives, The National Archives of the U.K. and other international records.

Heritage Quest Online

Heritage Quest records include: city directories from 1821-1989; U.S. censuses; Freedman Bank records, an important African American genealogy resource; Revolutionary War records; the U.S. Congressional Serial Set with all House and Senate reports and documents published since 1817; and PERSI, a comprehensive index of local history and genealogy periodicals articles. Search results can be sent to your email. is the largest online newspaper archive consisting of 514 million+ pages of historical newspapers from 12,100+ newspapers from around the United States and beyond. Newspapers provide a unique view of the past and can help us understand and connect with the people, events and attitudes of an earlier time.

DeKalb County History Center

After several years of conversations, focus groups, and meetings, March 1, 2018 marks the creation of the DeKalb County History Center in Sycamore, Illinois. This new organization is a result of a partnership between the Sycamore History Museum and the Joiner History Room, plus collaboration with 20-plus local history organizations throughout DeKalb County.

The world’s largest collection of free family trees, genealogy records, and resources.

Other Resources

ArchiveGrid includes over 7 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,400 archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps patrons looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.

Digital Public Library of America
DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format. The cultural institutions participating in DPLA represent the richness and diversity of America itself, from the smallest local history museum to our nation’s largest cultural institutions.

Illinois Digital Archives
The Illinois Digital Archives is a repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library as well as other libraries and cultural institutions in the State of Illinois. It contains historical photographs, slides, glass negatives, oral histories, manuscripts, letters, federal government documents, postcards, posters, videos, newspapers, and maps.

Illinois Newspaper Project
The Illinois Newspaper Project (INP) identifies, preserves, and digitizes historical Illinois newspapers. They also help patrons locate the Illinois newspapers they need. Some papers are available in digital form.

Illinois State Genealogical Society
The ISGS website has been created to enhance your passion for genealogy. It not only features links to ISGS projects but also links you to other records and resources throughout Illinois including those individual genealogical home pages that have an Illinois connection.

USGenWeb Project
The USGenWeb Project is a group of volunteers working together to provide free online genealogy help and information for every U.S. state and county. The national site provides links to state sites, which, in turn, provide gateways to the counties.

Find a Grave
Find a Grave is a free resource for finding the final resting places of famous folks, friends, and family members. With millions of names, it is an invaluable tool for genealogist and history buffs.

BillionGraves is the world′s largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data and is growing bigger every day.

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