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Genealogy & Local History

The Emma and Robert Wegman Local History Room is an excellent place to begin your regional and family history searches. We feature access to the Ancestry database, as well as a variety of other resources related to Aurora and its inhabitants through the years. All of our facilities offer bi-monthly one-on-one walk-in sessions with the Liesinger sisters who have been working with genealogy for many years, and they will provide you with the knowledgeable and courteous service you’ve come to expect from the library. The Liesingers make it obvious that family history is their passion, and they can ensure you catch that passion, too! Drop by our space on the second floor of the Santori Public Library. You will be amazed by the artifacts the library has gathered to meet your research needs.

 Contribute

Volunteer

Be a Citizen Archivist!
Contribute to the National Archives! Tag, transcribe, and add comments to records to help unlock history.
Be a Virtual Volunteer!
Improve access to history by transcribing, reviewing, and tagging Library of Congress documents.

 Digital Resources

Virtual Programs

City in Crisis: Aurora and the Spanish Influenza 1918

City in Crisis: Aurora and the Spanish Influenza Second Wave

George Grant Elmslie and The Crucible of Creation

History of the Aurora Public Library

Introduction to Online LGBTQ+ Archives

Introduction to Online LGBTQ+ Archives Handout

The Language of Tombstones

Get Started with Family History

Now that we’re all doing our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus by staying home, you’ve probably got some time to fill. A great way to maintain good mental health is to pick up a new hobby, or maybe revisit one you’ve put on the backburner. Enter: Family History.
Genealogy research can largely be done online now, which makes it perfectly suited for these times, and the library is here to provide you with the tools to get started!
Ancestry
Ancestry Library Edition
Powered by Ancestry.com, the number one source for family history online. (Temporarily available outside of the library.)
Family Search Online Classes
Family Search offers hundreds of free online classes in multiple languages.
Beginning Research Techniques

Leccion 1: Elementos Fundamentales para la Historia Familiar

Where do I Begin? Getting Started with African American Research

Census Tracking for Beginners

U.S. Census Research: Techniques and Strategies

Registros Civiles y Censos

Unites States Research: Midwest Region
A series of webinars on the Midwest, including an overview of Illinois.
The Family History Guide
The Family History Guide
The Family History Guide is a free learning, research, training, & activities center for family history.
Getting Started with Ancestry
Ancestry is a leading resource for online family history & genealogy. Search billions of records and discover your family story.
Getting Started with Family Search
FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization and website offering genealogical records, education, and software. It is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is closely connected with the Family History Department of the church.
Getting Started with Find My Past
Find My Past offers a 14-day free trial. Trace your ancestry and build a family tree by researching extensive birth records, census data, obituaries and more.
Getting Started with My Heritage
My Heritage offers a free 14-day trial. Grow your family tree, find new relatives, and explore billions of historical records.
Family Activities
Try some of these family history activities and see how the past and present can come together to strengthen family relationships, build your family tree, and make meaningful, lasting, fun family memories.
Individual Activities
Nothing makes family history more meaningful than personal involvement. Your life can be enriched through family history activities.
Teen Activities
Family history activities are a way to get to know those who have gone before, write about their lives, and to learn from and be inspired by their experiences. Teens can also connect with living family members, create and write their own family history, and make fun memories.
Kids Corner
Have fun with family history! Play cool games and discover some great activities for family history.
Research by Country

United Kingdom National Archives
UK National Archives Webinars
For those with British ancestors or an interest in British history, check out the numerous free webinars produced by the UK National Archives.
An Introduction to Emigration Sources for Family Historians

Tracing Battalions or Regiments of the British Army during the Great War

Tracing Huguenot Ancestors

The War of 1812: From the British Side

United States National Archives
US National Archives Exhibits
The United States National Archives has many interesting digital exhibits to explore.
Discovering the Civil War

The Deadly Virus: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918

Powers of Persuasion: Posters from World War II

 Collections


City Directories
Our collection runs from 1858/1859 to the present, and while gaps exist, we believe no City Directories were done for those missing years. These volumes function somewhat like a telephone book. Each book contains an alphabetical listing of Aurora residents in the pertinent year. Spouses and occupations are included in many of the early books. From the 1895/1896 edition onward, there is a section in the back of each directory that allows you to look up particular addresses by street to see who occupied the premises at that time.
Yearbooks
This collection includes yearbooks from various Aurora area colleges, high schools, and junior high schools. The selection of volumes for East Aurora High School, Waubonsie Valley High School, and West Aurora High School are fairly complete. Gaps in coverage exist for many of the other institutions.

• Aurora Central Catholic High School, 1970 – 2006
• Aurora Christian School, 1978 – 1994
• Aurora College, 1913 – 1980
• East Aurora High School, 1913 – 2015
• Illinois Math and Science Academy, 1990 – 1994
• Jennings Seminary, 1909
• Madonna High School, 1933; 1962 – 1963; 1966; 1968
• Marmion Military Academy, 1937 – 2013
• Mooseheart High School, 1923
• Nequa Valley High School, 1998 - 2001
• Roncali High School, 1966 – 1967
• Rosary High School, 1967 – 2016
• Waubonsie Valley High School, 1979 – 2015
• West Aurora High School, 1901 – 2010

Miscellaneous Collections
Miscellaneous Collections
The Emma & Robert Wegman Local History Room houses select collections of a variety of books of local interest, archival items, newspaper clippings, photographs, audio/video materials, a local author collection, atlases and plat books, and other microfilmed materials.
Newspapers on Microfilm

The library's collection of microfilm contains reels from a wide variety of Aurora newspapers published through the years. The most complete selection is for:
- Aurora Beacon News
- Aurora Blade
- Aurora Chronicle
- Aurora Daily Democrat
- Aurora Daily Journal
- Aurora Daily News
- Aurora Daily Times
- Aurora Economist
- Aurora Fox Valley Beacon
- Aurora Guardian
- Aurora Herald Weekly
- Aurora Labor Journal
- Aurora News Semi-Weekly
- Aurora News Times
- Aurora Post Journal
- Aurora Semi-Weekly Express
- Aurora Sentinel
- Aurora Sun
- Aurora Sunday Journal
- Aurora Volksfreund (major condition issues)
- Aurora Weekly Express
- Aurora Weekly Herald
- Dubuque Luxemburger Gazette
Special Collections
In 2017, the Santori Library received a generous donation of materials from the Charles and Marie Wilkinson family. This gift includes over 1,800 photographs, more than 1,000 documents, and a variety of personal realia that belonged to Charles, Marie, son Donald and daughter Sheila Scott-Wilkinson. One major item included in this donation was an authentic whip that belonged to former slave Charles Wilkinson, Sr, and was given to his son. Aurora icon and tireless social/civil rights activist Marie Wilkinson used this relic of a sad episode in American History as a teaching tool in many school and social club visits around the city.
Historic Maps of Aurora
This digital collection of historic maps shows the physical changes and growth of Aurora over several decades. They also illustrate changes in ward boundaries, street names, and, in some cases, building and business locations.

Download our brochure!

 Programs & Displays

Census Forms Throughout History

This year marks the twenty-fourth census of the United States. The first national census took place in 1790 and has counted every person in the United States every ten years since then. The content of the census has changed throughout the years, and several decades mark important milestones for the census. For example, 2020 is the first year in which the census can be completed online.

This exhibit showcases sample census schedules from each decade in which data is available (1790-1940). Many of the images are from the Aurora Public Library's Local History Collection, which includes Kane County historical census records on microfilm, 1840-1930.

Use the digital Census Forms Throughout History Exhibit below to complete our Scavenger Hunt! Winners will be recognized on our social media @APLibraryIL.

Find more information about the 2020 Census here! Find 2020 Census information in Spanish here!

Current Exhibits
  • 1790 Census
  • 1800 Census
  • 1810 Census
  • 1820 Census
  • 1830 Census
  • 1840 Census
  • 1850 Census
  • 1860 Census
  • 1870 Census
  • 1880 Census
  • 1890 Census
  • 1900 Census
  • 1910 Census
  • 1920 Census
  • 1930 Census
  • 1940 Census
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Census Forms Throughout History Scavenger Hunt

Contact us

Didn't find what you were looking  for? Email us or call (630) 264-4122.