Friday, January 8, 2010

So for my first trick...

...I will attempt to pretend to know what I'm doing when dealing with records that I have never dealt with before and/or have very little experience with. For those who have been following my "projects", besides the NGS course and ProGen I also have a few leads to chase around, you know, in my free time. :) These two paths are going to take me into some really new territory for me-divorce records (circa 1920-1930) and pre-1900 IL naturalizations. So this morning I spent a little time getting introduced to what the basics are for these records in IL. Thanks to Ancestry's Red Book and the web, here is what I found:

Divorces

~Pre-1962 divorces are generally held in the county clerk where the papers were filed (the county I need to search is Cook so in this case, I need to go to the Clerk's office in Chicago since I was not able to locate any film for Cook County, IL divorces in the FHL catalog)
~The Illinois Department of Health has the post 1962 indexes to divorces however, you will need to request the actual record from the appropriate county clerk; you cannot search them yourself.
~The Illinois State Archives and IRAD also have SOME microfilmed material, generally post 1962 records

Naturalizations

~Pre-1906 naturalizations are generally held with the circuit court in the county where the applicant filed
~IRAD has some naturalization records (declarations, petitions, etc.) but not for every county and not every format for each available county. Check their website for specific information regarding the county you're looking for (in my case, I'm looking for Kankakee County and I was not able to find any naturalization holdings for that county through IRAD. Therefore, I need to either consult the Kankakee Count naturalization film through the FHL or go directly to the clerk of the circuit court in Kankakee)
~Pre-1871 Cook County naturalizations were destroyed in the fire
~NARA-Great Lakes, located in Chicago, does have some naturalizations (again, not for Kankakee however, they do have early 1900 Cook Co. naturalization records organized by a Soundex index making the name you need fairly easy to find)
~For post-1959 naturalizations, see the United States District Court location in Chicago. According to the Red Book, they have a naturalization index from 1871 to the present.


From what I can tell, these are two record types that vary widely in both content and availability. While records for one county are available through FHL, for example, others may not so it is extremely important that you do your homework first and figure out exactly what you're looking for (what type of naturalization record you require, etc.), what's available, where it is, and how to get it. I'm going to need to do a bit more research on these records before I can actually dig in and find them, but at least I feel like I'm on the right path now.

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