Local History & Genealogy
Harvard Diggins Library has a growing collection of genealogy and local history materials for Harvard and surrounding areas. The collection includes various volumes of Illinois, McHenry County, and Harvard history including Milk Day history, Harvard Area Women in Military Service, Harvard Lions scrapbooks, Harvard High School yearbooks, surname indexes for Illinois and McHenry County, and McHenry County Cemeteries indexes. While these items do not circulate, pages from these resources (except for the most fragile) can be copied or scanned to a USB Drive from our copier/scanner. Photography of these materials with a camera or phone is also permitted. The reference staff are happy to help you as much as we can with your research. Visitors traveling long distances to reach the library are encouraged to call ahead to make sure that we will be open and that the resources you need are available. The library telephone number is 815-943-4671.
Harvard Diggins Library can also help you begin or add to your genealogy and local history research online! The Library’s microfilm collection of Harvard newspapers has been digitized and is available through our website. We also subscribe to Heritage Quest Online. Both of these resources are available to access on computers in the Library or from home. Heritage Quest Online does require a Library card for access from home. Contact the library at 815-943-4671 if you need help accessing either of these resources.
- The Digital Archives of Harvard Diggins Library: Browse Harvard newspapers dating as far back as 1867.
- HeritageQuest Online: A subscription service provided by Harvard Diggins Library for our patrons, Heritage Quest includes access to US Census data, Revolutionary War records, a large collection of family histories, and the PERSI genealogical index. Anyone may use this resource from computers inside the library. Home users with a valid Harvard Diggins library card may also use it from their internet connected home computers.
County and State links:
- Illinois State Archives: The Illinois State Archives holds information of interest both to historical researchers and to genealogists. This web site is a guide to some of the available resources there.
- McHenry County Historical Society: The MCHS has a library with local history and genealogical data as well as a collection of photos and portraits of early pioneers in the area.
- McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society: The local organization most concerned with genealogical research in McHenry county.
- American Family Immigration History Center (Ellis Island): Search for immigration records for anyone who passed through Ellis Island. Courtesy of the Ellis Island Foundation.
- AncestorHunt: This commercial site assembles many links to genealogy resources on the web.
- Christine’s African-American Genealogy Website: Discussion forum and also a guide to resources. Includes access to some data, and focuses primarily on African-American genealogy.
- Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites: Probably the largest collection of online links to genealogy related sites, organized and indexed courtesy of genealogist Cyndi Howell. A very valuable resource.
- Daughters of the American Revolution: The DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS) is a free resource provided by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to aid general genealogical research and to assist with the DAR membership process. The GRS is a collection of databases that provide access to the many materials amassed by the DAR since its founding in 1890.
- FamilySearch.org: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is perhaps the world’s largest accumulator of genealogical data. This web site gives free public access to some of their major data files that used to be available only on microfiche.
- Internet Genealogical Directory: This site provides links especially useful for genealogical research in French Canada, Belgium, and France.
- JewishGen: Helpful website focused on Jewish ancestry and genealogy worldwide.
- National Archives and Records Administration: NARA is the official federal government archive in the US. Census, land, and military records are all administered by the National Archives, and made available to the general public at several locations as well as by mail and over the web.
- National Genealogical Society: This organization is concerned with promoting and aiding the study of genealogy in the US.
- RootsWeb: This non-profit web site contains a very large amount of freely accessible information of value to genealogical researchers.
- USGenWeb Project: Not for profit website providing data and communication forums for genealogical researchers working on US families.
- Vital Records Information: Vital records information: what is it, what dates are covered, how to get it for each state.
- WorldGenWeb Project: A non-profit site providing data and communication forums for international genealogical research.
Don’t know where to start?
The National Archives and Records Administration offers this guide on how to begin genealogical research: https://www.archives.gov/riverside/how-to-begin-genealogical-research