Illinois Occupation and Business Records

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Saw and grist mill, New Salem, Illinois

Large companies sometimes preserved records about their employees. These records usually contain hiring and termination details and may include biographical data about the employees and possibly their families. If a company where your ancestor worked is still in business, it may allow limited access to its historical employee records.

Few employee records have been made public. Below are some that are available for Illinois.

Farmers[edit | edit source]

Farming is one of the major occupations in Illinois. Farmers' directories were published occasionally. Local farmers' associations may have kept membership records with biographical information. Farms that have been owned by the same family for 100 years or longer are called "Centennial Farms." See:

  • Illinois Centennial Farm Heritage Association. The History of Illinois Centennial Farms. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media, 1986. This book gives a short history of farming in Illinois and contains family histories and property descriptions of the centennial farms. Many libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 977.3 D2h

Lawyers[edit | edit source]

  • Crossley, Frederic Bears. Courts and Lawyers. Three Volumes. Chicago, Illinois: American Historical Society, 1916. This work gives a brief history of the court system in Illinois and biographical sketches of those who affected the history of the courts and those who were part of the bar about 1916.Many libraries (WorldCat); FHL film 934965; book 977.3 D3c
  • Livingston,John, et al. "List of Lawyers in Illinois," in Law Register..... New York: Monthly Law Magazine, 1851. Viewable online at Google Books.

Medical Workers[edit | edit source]

The Illinois State Archives and IRAD depositories have registers of those serving in medical professions, including physicians, midwives, veterinarians, dentists, optometrists, nurses, and surgeons. Search their holdings by county.

State Employees[edit | edit source]

For state employees from 1921 and later, see:

Pullman Car Workers[edit | edit source]

Pullman Car Works (Pullman, Illinois). Employee Records, ca. 1900–1949. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1993–94. These records include employment index cards (which contain hiring and termination dates) and service forms (which contain dates and places of birth as well as information on previous employment) for about 200,000 employees who worked in the Pullman car plant. FHL film 1908114 (first of 68 films) (Not available at Family History Centers.)

Other Occupations[edit | edit source]

The Illinois State Archives and IRAD depositories have the Chicago Civil Service Commission records of policemen, firemen, and tradesmen. Search under Cook County.

Occupations are often listed in city directories, which also provide information about particular businesses. Separate business directories are also available.

Also see, Illinois, U.S., South Pekin Railroad Employment Cards, 1900-1948.

It is usually best to start searches for occupations at the city or county level. Links to county pages appear below. Additional resources for Illinois occupations may be found in the Illinois-Occupations or Illinois-Officials and employees topic pages of the FamilySearch Catalog . Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at FamilySearch Centers. Explore how to search the FamilySearch Catalog.