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Frequently Asked Questions

We will do an obituary look-up if you have an exact citation, and we have the newspaper issue cited. We will also do an obituary look-up if you know the date and place of death, and we have a newspaper that might have published an obituary for that person. If we do not have a newspaper for the obituary you are seeking, then we will help you locate a library that does. There is no fee for this service. We respond to obituary look-ups as quickly as possible, but can only do the look-up as time permits. Usually we are able to respond within one week.

Although we cannot facilitate the hiring of freelance researchers, the University does have a virtual job board called Handshake, the purpose of which is connect students with internships and national employment opportunities as well as local, part-time employment. You can post a job for a freelance researcher on Handshake. Access Handshake at this URL: https://illinois.joinhandshake.com/ .

As a public university research library, we do our best to assist all patrons . We are, however, reference librarians, not genealogists. Like librarianship, genealogy is a professionalized occupation, and genealogists have specialized areas of expertise, and use a specialized set of resources and techniques. There is, of course, much overlap between the work of genealogists and librarians, but the two disciplines are distinct. Like librarians, genealogists have organizations that govern the accreditation (International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists) and certification (Board for Certification of Genealogists) of professional genealogists. And, like librarians, genealogists have their own, self-governing professional organizations (Association of Professional Genealogists and the National Genealogical Society). In short, we do not purport to conduct genealogy, or to offer professional genealogical advice. If you would like assistance from a professional genealogist, consult the APG’s Directory of Professional Genealogists. Our expertise is with locating the types of resources found in libraries–especially published sources like newspapers. We will do our best to assist you, and we will let you know when a question is beyond our area of expertise, so please do not hesitate to contact us!

With very few exceptions, the University of Illinois Library’s electronic resources are freely available to anybody who visits the Library in person. Remote access to licensed electronic resources is restricted to current students, faculty, and staff of the University. Unfortunately, we are not, at this time, allowed to give remote access to alumni. These restrictions are imposed by the publishers. Some of the digital collections you will find on our web pages and library guides are freely available, and these will be indicated by a  symbol or a note stating that the resource is freely available. To learn more about the Library’s policy regarding access to electronic resources, visit this URL: https://www.library.illinois.edu/geninfo/policies/faq-accessentitlement/ .

To request that the Library purchase a book, please complete the Suggest a Purchase form. .

To request that the Library begin a journal subscription, please contact Celestina Savonius-Wroth at cswroth@illinois.edu .

To request that the Library purchase a database or digital collection, please contact Celestina Savonius-Wroth at cswroth@illinois.edu .

If you would like a copy of a newspaper article for which you have a citation, then please submit the request through your local library’s interlibrary loan service. Because so few newspapers were ever indexed, we do understand that you might not have an exact citation for an article you know was published in a specific newspaper. In these situations, we will do our best to fulfill your request as quickly as possible, but can only undertake such work as time permits. There is no fee for this service. Any copies are intended for research and private uses only. We are not equipped to supply professional-quality scans. To request a professional-quality scan, please contact Digitization Services. All our microfilm circulates, and we frequently lend microfilm through interlibrary loan. Please contact us to inquire about other options.

The INP Database contains comprehensive information about the newspapers identified and catalogued by the project, as well as their availability and format. Once you’ve located the newspaper you’re looking for in the database, scroll down to the heading “Where we found this title:” Underneath this heading will be a list of the institutions which hold this item, and the years of the issues they hold. Click on the name of the institution to locate their contact information, whom we recommend you contact to learn how you may access the materials.