LDS Family History Center
The LDS Family History Center library at North Alpine and Rural Street in Rockford has been my best source for information, indexes, Lutheran and Catholic church records, books, etc. for the past 20 years.
Anyone visiting their facility can use the books and indexes they have there free of charge. You can also order films or fiches (from Salt Lake City) for a small shipping charge.
Included among their holdings:
Bargain of the Century! There is an "A-Z" index for 1916-1938 Illinois deaths at the Family History Center, and it gives the date and place of death. That's the good news.
The really good news, however, is that you can get copies of the death certificates from the Illinois State Archives in Springfield for only 50 cents each! The only bad news is they will allow you to order no more than two copies at a time.
If you've ever tried ordering a death certificate from other agencies, you will understand what a bargain this is. If you've got the time and the patience, collecting death certificates on all your ancestors and relatives, as well as those of people with the name surname, can yield all sorts of useful information.
* U.S. Master Social Security Death Index for deaths occurring from the early 1960s through 1991 is available in a very easy-to-use computer program. You don't need to know any computer jargon to use it; just follow the instructions on the screen as you go along. For each name you look up, it gives the year the person was born and the state in which they obtained their Social Security card. Also given are the month and year they died and the ZIP Code and date of death.
* Hamburg Passenger Lists: They have all the indexes, for both direct and indirect routes, plus the actual passenger lists from Hamburg, for the years 1850 through 1880.
* Wisconsin Information: Many Boone and Winnebago County residents got married in or retired to Rock and Walworth counties in our neighbor state to the north. The Family History Center has the microfiche birth, marriage, and death index for Wisconsin through 1906. Unfortunately, the marriage indexes for those counties from "Racine" to the end of the alphabet are not in this particular microfiche collection. Thus, to find Rock and Walworth County marriages, you have to look at several separate 16mm indexes, which are available at the Rockford Family History Center.
* Other Illinois Counties: They also have the indexes and actual marriage records on microfilm for McHenry, Kane, Ogle, and other counties along with other area records.
* Miscellaneous Goodies: Check the red spiral notebook for an updated computer printout of films they have by country, state, or county. They also have a numerical microfilm index and microfiche number list showing what's available at the Center. Don't forget to look through their "A-Z" patrons' drawers and various other drawers at the Center. Any microfiche items that are ordered by patrons stay there. As a result, they have hundreds of microfilms, many of which are on indefinite loan. Included in the microfiche collection is a catalogue of what's available in Salt Lake City, arranged by area.
The A.I.S.I. census indexes for 1790 through 1850 are on microfiche and are grouped by regions, rather than states, saving you lots of time checking through the index books of several states. There is also a Family Registry Microfiche Index, with the names of ancestors being traced and who is tracing them. The application form for this program is usually on microfiche, and this can yield some valuable information.
They have a microfiche index of European church records and court house records, etc. that are available on microfilm. (Most church records are indexed under the name of the parish location rather than the name of the small village(s) that might supply the church with parishioners.)
There is an Author⁄Title index available on microfiche, plus a surname index of books that have been published about families.
Their computers have an ancestral file, which anyone can be added to by submitting computer disks of pedigree charts and family group sheets. (This is a relatively new project that is gaining momentum as more and more people get "computer-literate.")