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Local History and Genealogy

Waukegan Newspapers on Microfilm
Come to the Library to explore Waukegan’s rich history as recorded in its many newspapers. From the Little Fort Porcupine of the 1840s to the Lake County News Sun of the 21st century, the Library’s newspaper collection includes papers from almost all of the last 160 years.

Need help finding an obituary?

If you’re looking for an obituary that was published in a Waukegan newspaper but you don’t live in the area, we can help. You can ask 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.

Explore the Illinois Collection
Local history buffs will enjoy the Library’s Illinois Collection, a collection of local history resources including history books, city directories, Waukegan High School yearbooks, and works by local authors.

Search our collection of almost 30,000 regional cemetery records dating back to the 19th century. Search results include the person’s date of death and the cemetery in which he or she is buried.

Lake County Genealogical Society
The Lake County Genealogical Society is a great place to start the quest for your family history. Connect with other genealogy researchers and get tips on conducting your research. But! Remember these words of wisdom from the Society: “The Internet is just another tool in your genealogy kit. Good, old fashioned, bleary-eyed research is still an absolute necessity!
The most active genealogical society in the area, Zion Genealogical Society offers free research assistance every Wednesday evening at the Zion-Benton Public Library, publishes a quarterly newsletter for members, and hosts guest speakers throughout the year.
Waukegan’s rich history is at your fingertips when you work with the staff and volunteers of the Waukegan Historical Society. Attend a special event, visit the library to see original maps and photographs, or stop at the museum to take in one of their rotating exhibits.
The 1940 Census is now online! Learn more about your ancestors who lived in 1940 including their country of origin, education level, current occupation, and other members of their households.
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.
Did you know that every enlisted person in the Navy starts his or her career at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes? More than 3.5 million sailors have been trained at Great Lakes, earning it the nickname “Quarterdeck of the Navy”.
Calling all cartophiles! Use Old Maps Online to discover “the lay of the land” from centuries past. You can browse maps by geographical location or time period.
View historic photographs from all over the nation thanks to the American Memory Project, sponsored by the Library of Congress. Search the database alphabetically by location. Try to find the photo of the Waukegan Courthouse from 1900!
Waukegan has hosted a number of writers who were born, worked, or continue to live here. Each page includes the author’s biographical information and photograph, publications, and sometimes a short essay from the author describing what inspired him or her to become a writer. Additionally, some authors have written about the role the Waukegan Library played in their reading and writing lives.
Follows the development of Waukegan from a French trading post and Potawatomi Indian settlement to its incorporation into the city of Waukegan.
The Encyclopedia of Chicago follows the growth of Waukegan due to its industry and construction of railroads.
In honor of Waukegan’s 150th year, this blog entry gives an overview of its history. Many other articles can be located on this blog by using the search word “Waukegan”.
Takes the reader back to the Genesee Theatre’s beginning and through its renovation to its present state. Learn how the theatre kept some of its original detail while expanding its stage size and lobbies.

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Calling all cartophiles! Use Old Maps Online to discover “the lay of the land” from centuries past. You can browse maps by geographical location or time period.