The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 25, 2012

Ancestry.com available to students

JOAN GRIFFIS
Commercial-News

The University of Indianapolis is encouraging genealogical research by working with Ancestry.com in a first-of-its-kind initiative: to allow all of its students, faculty and staff to have free access to Ancestry.com. All campus computers and mobile devices anywhere on campus can access the billions of documents and images available on Ancestry.com. Workshops and seminars also will be offered to assist researchers.

Ancestry.com boasts that it “is the world’s largest online family history resource, with approximately 2 million paying subscribers.” Many genealogists, however, access these records by going to a library having a subscription.

Danville Public Library

The Danville Public Library is one of many libraries having a subscription to Ancestry.com and thus anyone wishing to access that company’s records can easily do so by visiting the library. Also, anyone with a DPL library card may access Ancestry.com from home — quite a convenience.

The DPL archives maintains a vast collection of genealogical records of its own. The collections are described at http://www.danville.lib.il.us/archives.htm and focus on “Vermilion County, Illinois, including materials from Champaign, Clark, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Ford and Iroquois counties in the state of Illinois, and Benton, Fountain, Montgomery, Parke, Vermillion, Vigo and Wabash in the state of Indiana … (Its) secondary focus is genealogical materials from the migratory states into Illinois: CT, DE, IN, KY, MD, MA, MS, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, and WV.”

The resources in the DPL archives include: Danville city directories, 1874-present; Danville and Vermilion County newspapers, 1833-present; Vermilion County histories; Vermilion County vital records (birth, marriage, death), deeds, wills, naturalization papers; Federal Population Census, 1830-1880, 1900-1930; Illinois State Census; Civil War Collection; and genealogical periodicals. The archives’ collections are non-circulating — they must be used in the library. Archives staff will respond to specific research requests. Phone 477-5228 for more information.

Jewish community

The Danville Public Library website includes links to genealogical resources online, including a unique Vermilion County resource. Local researcher, Sybil Mervis, has created a website, Jewish Community of Danville, Illinois, that provides obituaries (facsimile copies of newspaper articles) of Jewish burials in Danville’s Spring Hill Cemetery. One can click on any name in the list and be taken to a page showing that person’s obituary — often with a photograph. The website also includes a link to a most interesting article, “The History of the Jewish Community of Danville, Illinois,” written by Mervis. “Jewish people are known to have lived in Danville since at least 1850, when the U.S. census listed two traveling salesmen, Jacob Alschuler and Samuel Blum, as residents of a local hostelry.”

Mervis plans to add obituaries prior to 1905 (the year the Jewish section of Spring Hill Cemetery was established), but these are “more difficult to locate due to the irregularity of placement in the newspapers.” Researchers should check this helpful “work in progress” in the months ahead.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing JBGriffis@aol.com