Search Catalog

Genealogy & Local History

The Hayner Public Library District provides a variety of genealogy-related services and local history resources to support your research efforts. Our collection includes books on local railroads and streetcars, steamboats on the Mississippi, notable Altonians, local architecture, and more. Special events and ongoing programs are held at the Genealogy & Local History Library. Subjects and dates are published in our library newsletter and you can call us for more information.

One of our most popular resources is our digitized newspaper collection. This collection includes the Alton Telegraph Archives dating as far back as 1836, and Access Newspaper Archive to locate newspaper articles in other parts of the country. The newspapers are keyword-searchable, and you can print the articles you need. There is a charge of fifteen cents per page for printing black and white documents and a charge of thirty cents per page for printing color documents. We also offer Ancestry® Library Edition, HeritageQuest OnlineTM, and Digital Sanborn® Maps.

A library card issued from an Illinois Heartland Library System member-library provides access to the computers. Guest passes are available with a photo ID. 

If you wish, you may schedule a one-on-one session with a member of the Hayner Genealogy & Local History Library staff. Call us at 618-462-0677, ext. 2865 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for this service. We will be happy to meet with you to help you along with your research or get you started.

If you are out-of-town, we also offer a lookup service. A simple query is $5.00 per name researched. You must request your lookup in writing to The Hayner Public Library District, 401 State Street, Alton, Illinois 62002. When you send your letter of request, please include your payment check made out to The Hayner Public Library District and your email address so we can contact you with any questions about your query. Include enough information so we can do a thorough search for you. If you have questions about our services, you can call us at 618-462-0677, ext. 2865 or send questions to our email address at

Our collection includes:

Abraham Lincoln

  • Multi-volume collection of Abraham Lincoln references

City Directories

  • City of Alton: oldest is 1858; incomplete set for late 1800s to present
  • Wood River/East Alton: incomplete set for 1926 to present


  • ANCESTRY® LIBRARY EDITION—worldwide records: vital, military, census, immigration, etc.
  • HERITAGEQUEST ONLINE™—census, periodicals, Revolutionary War records, etc.
  • SANBORN® FIRE INSURANCE MAPS—location of homes and businesses on streets in Alton

Genealogical Books

  • American State Papers: Land Grants & Claims
  • Madison County Illinois Federal census Indexes for 1820 through 1930
  • Madison County Illinois State census indexes for 1845 and 1855
  • Illinois Census Returns for 1810, 1818, 1820
  • Most Madison County Cemetery Inventories; Cemetery records for surrounding counties
  • Madison County Naturalizations and Intentions 1816-1900
  • Plat Maps and Atlases for Madison County and surrounding counties
  • Madison County Marriage Index 1813-1882
  • Various genealogical records of Jersey, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Calhoun, Bond, Pope, Williamson, Hamilton, Franklin, Perry Counties, Pulaski, Union, and other counties in IL and of St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin, Perry, and other counties in MO
  • Madison County, Illinois, birth record index, 1850-1879, death record index, 1878-1881
  • Marks Funeral Home Records

Local History

  • Area family histories
  • Madison County history, including "Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois and Its People" 1812-1912 and "History of Madison County...with Biographical Sketches...", 1880
  • Most Illinois county histories and local town histories
  • Alton Property Research File
  • Locally published cookbooks
  • Local church histories

Military Records

  • "Adjutant General of the State of Illinois: Annual Report 1863-1872″
  • Alton Military Prison records
  • Civil War CD-ROM (a compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies)
  • Selected Records of the War Department relating to the Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861-1865
  • Records of Veterans from Madison County and surrounding counties

Newspapers and Periodicals

  • Digitized Alton newspapers from 1836—obituaries, births, deaths, marriages, probate, etc.
  • National newspaper digitization—articles of newspapers from other cities in U.S. and other countries
  • Madison County Genealogical Society Newsletter
  • SAGA (Genealogical Society of Southern Illinois quarterly)
  • Stalker (Madison County Genealogical Society quarterly)



Additional Genealogy Websites

Illinois Research:

Missouri Research:

United States Research:

Global Research:

Genealogy Research Information/Tutorials:

Donations of materials having to do with Illinois history are appreciated. We are always looking for yearbooks (especially from the Alton grade schools  and the volumes listed below) and locally published cookbooks. We also appreciate the donation of your family history resources when you are finished with them. They can help someone in the future to discover their family origins. To discuss your donation, contact as at (618) 462-0677, ext. 2865.

Contact Us

The Hayner Public Library District
Genealogy & Local History Library
401 State Street
Alton, IL 62002-6137

618-462-0677, ext. 2865


key icon