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The Genealogy & Local History Library

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 also held at the Genealogy & Local History Library. Program and event topics and dates are published in our library newsletter. You may also call the Genealogy & Local History Library for more information.

Contact Information:

Genealogy & Local History Library
401 State Street
Alton, IL 62002-6137
618-462-0677, option 3

Current Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Alton ABC and Color Me Alton: Seasons

In 2019, a small group of Alton High School students and their teacher, Mrs. Lexa Browning-Needham, collaborated with our own Reneé B. Johnson of the Genealogy & Local History Library to publish Alton ABC. The rhyming alphabet picture book is designed to delight and inform, acknowledging the present and the history of our area. The hardbound books cost $20 each, and the proceeds are split between Hayner Library and the Alton School District. 

They also published Color Me Alton: Seasons, a multi-generational coloring book exploring the seasons in the Alton area. Student illustrators worked to illustrate text written by Reneé B. Johnson, highlighting seasonal activities and events in Alton, Godfrey, and Fosterburg, Illinois. The students drew pages depicting the Alton Memorial Day Parade, Juneteeth Celebration in James H. Killion Park, Alton Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market, the Rose Garden at Gordon Moore Park, the All-Wheels Drive-In Classic Car Show, the Great Godfrey Corn Maze at Glazebrook Park, and other wonderful local traditions.

Both books are available for purchase at the Genealogy & Local History Library, located at 401 State Street, Alton, IL. Copies of Alton ABC are $20 each and copies of Color Me Alton: Seasons are $10 each. Please note: We accept cash or check payments only. 

Links to a Few of our Online Resources:

Our Future Outlook

We’re digitizing city directories, local yearbooks, previous Hayner newsletters, and other items from the collection and making them available through archive.org and through links on the online SHARE catalog when we can. See what we’ve digitized so far.

We partnered with the Illinois State Library to create an “Alton Area Local History Collection” on the Illinois Digital Archives website. We’re adding more material all the time. There are currently over 6,000 photographs in our IDA collection. The Illinois Digital Archives is a fantastic resource for Illinois history and includes photographs, oral interviews, books, newspapers, and other items.

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. 

Our Collection Includes:


Abraham Lincoln

  • Multi-volume collection of Abraham Lincoln references

City Directories

  • City of Alton—Oldest is 1858; incomplete set for the late 1800s to present
  • Wood River/East Alton—Incomplete set for 1926 to present


  • Ancestry® Library Edition—Worldwide records: vital, military, census, immigration, etc.
  • Fold3—Historical military records

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, Pulaski, Union, and other counties in Illinois and of St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin, Perry, and other counties in Missouri
  • 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—2012 including obituaries, births, deaths, marriages, probate, etc.
  • Illinois newspaper digitization—articles of newspapers from other cities in Illinois, including The Edwardsville Intelligencer
  • Madison County Genealogical Society Newsletter
  • SAGA (Genealogical Society of Southern Illinois quarterly)
  • Stalker (Madison County Genealogical Society quarterly)


Additional Genealogy Websites

Donations of materials pertaining to Illinois history are greatly appreciated. We’re always on the lookout for yearbooks and locally published cookbooks. We also appreciate the donation of your family history resources when you are finished with them, including house abstracts. These items can help someone in the future discover their family origins. To discuss your donation, please call (618) 462-0677, option 3.