Local History & Genealogy

The Vespasian Warner Public Library's Archive has a large collection of documents, newspapers, photographs, postcards, and artifacts that covers the history of DeWitt County. The library also houses the collections of the DeWitt County Genealogical Society and the DeWitt Clinton Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.


For information about the Vespasian Warner Public Library Archive, please call the library at 217-935-5174 or email library@vwarner.org


Below are listings of our holdings. Not all images are available online at this time, however, if you would like a scanned copy of any image, please contact Bobbi at perryman@vwarner.org.


We have begun adding images to Archive.org, History Pin and the Illinois Digital Archive. We are continuing to add images each week, so be sure to check back.


General Collection

Documents, photographs, and artifacts related to DeWitt County history.

A partial list of photographs in our collection.

Many images are also available in the library's Archive.org and HistoryPin.com accounts.

C.H. Moore Collection

This is the original collection from the library's opening in 1908. Includes numerous works on Illinois history and biography.  For information on C.H. Moore, please visit the DeWitt County Museum website.

Civil War Collection

Diaries, photographs, artifacts

Digitization of these items was made possible by a grant from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation.

Clinton Area Yearbooks

Includes Clinton, Heyworth, LeRoy, Kenney, Maroa-Forsyth, and Wapella.

Digitized versions of Clinton yearbooks are available.

Clinton Newpapers

On microfilm. 1854-present.  A complete list of newspapers and date ranges available at the Archives is available [PDF file].

DeWitt County World War I Collection

Letters, service records, and photographs. Available in the Illinois Digital Archive.

Helen Hume Thorp Collection

Wapella and Rucker Chapel History



Over one million photographs of local people and locations, dating from the mid-19th century to the present. Selected images have been digitized and made available online through our Local History Online Catalog and our digital collections.

  • News-Gazette Collection (1974-2002)

  • McCandless Photography Studio Collection (1965-2001)

  • Pilon Studio Collection 

  • Postcard collections with images documenting Champaign County and the University of Illinois 

Postcard Collections

General Collection List

Cardiff Collection List

Roque Club of Clinton

Letters, newspaper articles, and photographs.


Weinberg Library of Comparative Religion

Donated by Dr. Harold Weinberg

Archives & Special Collections

Online Library Databases

Ancestry.com:  Only available in the library building.  Proquest is allowing temporary remote access for VWPLD patrons. Please email library@vwarner.org for more information

Remote Access to Ancestry.com

Other Databases

African American Gateway - A growing resource for African American research compiled by Allen County Public Library of Fort Wayne, Indiana

DAR Genealogical Research System - Online genealogical portal including their Ancestor Database, Member Database, Descendants Database, DAR Library Catalog, and DAR Genealogical Records Committee database.

Digital Public Library of America

Find a Grave - Free resource for finding the graves of famous folks, friends and family members 

Illinois State Archives - Illinois birth, death, marriage, and veterans records

Illinois State Genealogical Society -  Indices and databases  provided free to the public by the ISGS

PERSI (Periodical Source Index) - PERSI indexes journal articles published by thousands of local, state, national and international genealogy and local history organizations. It is free to search PERSI, but online access to articles is through subscription only. 

General Genealogy Resources

Cyndi's List - A free jumping-off point for online genealogical research

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - Daily online genealogy newsletter

Family Search Wiki - Genealogical research advice and information on where to find record collections

Illinois Online Genealogy Records - Find genealogy records: vital records (birth, marriage, and death), census, cemeteries, probate, land, libraries, societies, churches, newspapers, etc. for Illinois

National Archives: Genealogy Ethnic Heritage - Selection of links to websites that are useful for ethnic genealogical research compiled by NARA

National Archives:  Resources for Genealogists - Selection of links for beginning genealogical research, searchable databases, and preservation tutorials


America's GenealogyBank - Over 300 years of historical newspapers (including obituaries), books, pamphlets, and government reports

Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection - Over 100 newspaper titles and trade journals, including the Daily Illini (1874-1975), The Champaign County News (1903-1916), The Champaign Daily News (1895-1919), Urbana Daily Courier (1903-1935)

The News-Gazette - Full-text articles of local news, June 1997 to October 13, 2019

University of Illinois Historical Newspapers Online - Thousands of historical newspapers in digital format including U.S., Illinois, and international titles. (while many of these papers are freely available some do require a UIUC login)

Public Records

Champaign County Assessment Office - Property record search 

Champaign County Clerk - Certified copy of vital records available for a fee (non-certified copies can be found at the Champaign County Historical Archives

Champaign County Circuit Clerk - Access to traffic, civil, criminal, small claims, probate, city ordinance, and conservation records 

Champaign County GIS Consortium Interactive Public Map - Interactive map of Champaign County

Champaign County Recorder of Deeds - Access to documents reflecting chain of title to land within Champaign County

Federal Land Patent Records Site - Live access to Federal land conveyance records for the Public Land States, including image access to more than five million Federal land title records issued between 1820 and the present

For Teachers 

American History Teachers' Collaborative - lesson plans, local primary documents, and examples of best practices from a central Illinois collaborative led by the Urbana School District

DocsTeach - ready to use tools for teaching with documents prepared by the National Archives

National History Day and Archives Toolkit - a wiki for getting the most out of National History Day

Contact the library for login 

Databases & Research Tools

The DeWitt County Genealogical Society was formed in 1974 to help collect and preserve genealogical history and other resources about the people of DeWitt County.

The DeWitt County Genealogical Society Website.

Contact DCGS:

PO Box 632

Clinton, IL 61727

Email: dewittcgs@yahoo.com

You can also fill out the form below.

DeWitt County Geneological Society

DCGS items available at the library:

  • Census 1840 - 1930

  • Death Index 1878 - 1980

  • Marriage Index 1839 - 1979

  • Birth Index 1878 - 1915

  • Obituaries

  • Funeral home records

  • DeWitt County histories and atlases

  • Land Records

  • Family files

  • Bible Records

  • Ancestor charts

  • Cemetery records

  • Quarterlies

  • Family histories

  • Clinton city directories (earlist-1915)

  • Circuit Clerk's records index

  • Military Records

  • Probate Records

  • Materials about other counties and states

  • DeWitt County Early Marriage Licences, 1839- 

  • Additional Local Records 

  • DirectoriesAn extensive collection of directories for Champaign County, including city directories; phone books; and Criss-Cross directories.

Champaign County Records

City of Urbana Municipal Records

  • Microfilmed and indexed local government records spanning the years 1855 to 2001. 

Records from community institutions, businesses, and individuals.

  • These materials document businesses, local chapters of social organizations, and offer glimpses of local life dating back to the mid-19th century through diaries, correspondence, and other personal papers.


Over 500 historical and current local maps, plat books, and atlases are available for research. The University of Illinois' digital collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps includes maps of Illinois towns, including ones located in Champaign County.

History Blog
Memory Lab
Planning A Visit

Planning a visit 

The Champaign County Historical Archives is located on the second floor of The Urbana Free Library and is open to the public. For hours and holiday closings please visit the Library's hours page.  

Your visit does not require an appointment. We do ask large groups to contact the Archives in advance so we may better prepare for your visit (K-12 students welcome!).