Guest Author, Janice Fritsch
Among my favorite research facilities in Illinois are the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD). The Illinois State Archives administers a system of depositories (IRAD) to manage the archival records of local governments. Each IRAD covers specific counties. The seven IRAD offices, each with a research area, are typically located within a State University Campus and are named for the University they reside in. The type and amount of records are varied depending on the records transferred from the local government. They can include records from cities, counties, townships, municipalities, and school districts.
Some of the record types included are:
- Circuit Court/Circuit Clerk
- County Board of Supervisors/Board of County Commissioners
- County Court
- County Home/County Farm/Almshouse
- County Mine Inspector
- County Treasurer
- Justice of the Peace
- Probate Court
- Superintendent of an Educational Service Region
Why would you want to visit an IRAD instead of a city, county, or township office?
- One stop for a variety of counties.
- The cost of a copy is the photocopying fee (varies at each IRAD but typically $0.50).
- No clerks questioning or challenging your right to view records.
- Planning ahead is possible because a listing of the available records can be viewed online.
- The original records may be at the depository.
- If you are unable to visit a depository you can request a record lookup and there is no research fee (some do charge a copy fee). The record will be mailed to you.
Tips and information from my experience:
- Almost everything you need to know can be found at: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/irad/iradholdings.html
- The website is very user friendly but be sure to check out each button and remember to hover for additional links to other sections of the site. Do not make a recent mistake I made when I planned to visit the SIU IRAD in Carbondale. The location is listed as the Morris Library – Special Collections. I thought this was all I needed to know but when I arrived at the Morris Library and asked for directions I was told it is housed in the Morris Library Storage Facility located on the west edge of the campus, which is not close to the Library. If I had clicked on the “Map and Directions” I would have known this and saved myself time and a tour of the campus.
- Call ahead. Some IRADS are closed during the lunch hour and have reduced hours during the summer or during school closings.
- IRADs are closed on Saturdays.
Specifics at various IRAD I have visited:
NIU IRAD (Dekalb, IL)
- Office is closed 12-1.
- Office is within an office in the Library.
- Has one microfilm reader/printer.
- Closest Parking Lot is adjacent and west of the Library and cost $5 with an attendant on duty.
- Food is available at the student center which is in easy walking distance.
- You will be asked to leave your “brief cases” at the coat rack.
NEIU IRAD (Chicago, IL)
- Located in the lower level of the Ronald Williams Library.
- Metered parking lot is adjacent; accepts cash or credit card.
- Has three microfilm/printers. I have had to wait.
- The interns are overly helpful. Be sure to look at the listing of available records and insist on viewing the specific records you request. I have been told on more than one occasion that the document I am looking for is not there when indeed it is.
- Food is available at the student union, which is an easy walking distance.
SIU IRAD (Carbondale, IL)
- Parking lot adjacent, no fee.
- To avoid driving through campus look at a map.
ISU IRAD (Normal, IL)
- Depository is three miles from the campus.
- Parking is free.
UIS IRAD (Springfield)
- Located in the lower level of the Norris L. Brookens Library (it is listed as the first level but I have always taken an elevator down).
- Parking is free; use Lot B.
- Once inside the library ask for directions. Depending on the door in which you enter the library the room can be very easy to find or you can go through a maze, which is usually my path.
EIU IRAD (Charleston, IL)
- Located in the University Archives in the Booth Library, use south entrance.
- Closed 12-1.
- Metered parking lots. A guest-parking permit can be acquired.
List of depositories and locations:
Eastern Illinois University (EIU)
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
Counties: Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Jasper, Lawrence, Moultrie, Richland, Shelby, Wabash, Wayne
Illinois State University (ISU)
Illinois State University
2016 Warehouse Road
Campus Box 1520
Normal, IL 61790-1520
Counties: Champaign, DeWitt, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Livingston, Logan, Marshall, McLean, Piatt, Tazewell, Vermilion, Woodford
Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)
Ronald Williams Library
Northeastern Illinois University
5500 N. St. Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-4699
Counties: Cook and City of Chicago
Northern Illinois University (NIU)
Founders Memorial Library
c/o Regional History Center, Room 400
DeKalb, IL 60115
Counties: Boone, Bureau, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, JoDaviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago
Southern Illinois University (SIU)
Morris Library – 6632
Carbondale, IL 62901-6632
Counties: Alexander, Clinton, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Saline, Union, Washington, White, Williamson
University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS)
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
Counties: Bond, Cass, Christian, Fayette, Greene, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Sangamon, Scott
Western Illinois University (WIU)
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Counties: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Fulton Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, McDonough, Mercer, Peoria, Pike Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Warren