Resources at the Madison County Archival Library

The Madison County Archival Library houses primary and secondary sources held by the Madison County Historical Society. Many holdings are indexed in the library’s card catalog. The collection include diaries, correspondence, family Bibles, manuscripts, legal documents, photographs, newspapers, scrapbooks, school and church records, maps, photographs, and other documents. The library also houses over 4,000 reference sources, including early county histories and biographies, local histories, family and house histories, church and business histories, cemetery inventories, and more. Resources primarily pertain to Madison County, Illinois, and constituent locations, with some information about neighboring counties and about the state of Illinois.

Book Collection

The Madison County Archival Library houses approximately 4,000 published works related to Madison County history. These reference resources are available for in-house use only. Search reference books in the Online Archive

Vertical File

The library’s estimated 3,000 subject files contain letters, manuscripts, certificates, programs, newspaper clippings, and other documents.

Picture File and Other Photograph Collections

The library’s picture file primarily contains photographs dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The approx. 6,000 photographs are grouped by subject. Other large photograph collections:

    • Dick Norrish photograph collection. Nearly 900 photographs taken by Edwardsville Intelligencer photographer Dick Norrish from 1960-1985.
    • Edwardsville Intelligencer (E.I.) photograph collections. Approx. 3,000 photographs taken by Edwardsville Intelligencer photographers. Cataloging of this large collection is ongoing. View E.I. photos currently in the Online Archive
    • Edwardsville Fire Department photographs. Over 900 photographs of the Edwardsville Fire Department from the 1940s through the 2000s. Includes photos of fires, firefighting vehicles, training sessions, conferences, and social events.

Search photos in the Online Archive

Map Collection and Atlases

The map collection contains historical maps of Madison County cities and townships. The collection also includes original Sanborn maps of Edwardsville and Wood River. The library also houses a deep collection of Madison County plat books (some years are missing) and three historical atlases of Madison County (published in 1873, 1892, and 1906).

Scrapbook Collections

The core scrapbook collection of newspaper clippings was created by library volunteers. Other scrapbook collections:

    • Happenings on the Railroads in Madison County, Illinois. These materials compiled by local historian Scott Oliva document local railroad history 1900-1913.
    • Meisenheimer scrapbooks. The collection of nearly 200 scrapbooks prepared by local historian Harold Meisenheimer (1927-2018) focuses on Alton-area history.
Key General References

Newspaper special editions for Alton Telegraph, Collinsville Herald, Edwardsville Intelligencer, Granite City Press Record, and Wood River Journal. The library also houses the following Edwardsville newspapers on microfilm (some issues are missing):

    • Edwardsville Spectator (May 1819-Oct. 1826)
    • Edwardsville Democrat (1881-1924)
    • Edwardsville Intelligencer (1869-Feb. 1946; Jan. 1988-present) and previous title Madison Intelligencer for November 13, 1862.

The library also houses deep collections (some volumes are missing) of local school yearbooks and of city directories for Alton, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Granite City, Highland, Tri-City, and Wood River.

Special Collections and Other Resources

The Madison County Historical Society holds a vast variety of special collections and resources. Selected special collections and resources are described below.

    • Probate and guardianship files—The collection of original Madison County files is comprised of approx. 30,000 probate files and approx. 4,000 guardianship files.
    • Madison County Poor Farm records dating 1880-1958. Includes name-date indexes.
    • Emancipations registers—This registration of free people of color in Madison County 1830-1860 was required by law. The library houses the original first volume and copies of the other two volumes. Includes name indexes.
    • African Americans in Madison County, Illinois—This collection (one record carton) prepared by community historian and genealogist Charlotte Johnson documents African American history in Madison County.
    • Report of the Adjutant General of the State of IllinoisThe series consists of histories and rosters for Illinois Civil War regiments. Also includes rosters for the Black Hawk, Mexican-American, and Spanish-American Wars.
    • Melling papers—Large-format color printouts of facsimile scans of Captain Patrick Joseph Melling’s military records for Company B, 144th Illinois Infantry. This was the last garrison to guard the Alton military prison during the Civil War.
    • Paddock collection—The collection contains nearly 500 documents including deeds, contracts, correspondence, wills, and other documents of the Paddock family of Moro dating from 1803-1988. This collection has been cataloged in full: view our PDF finding aid or view the Paddock collection in the Online Archive
    • Travous collection—This collection of research notes of local historian Rachel Louise Travous (1892-1965) primarily focuses on Edwardsville history. Approx. 4 lineal feet. Cataloging of this rich collection is ongoing. View Travous collection items currently in the Online Archive
    • Kane collection—This large collection of office materials from the Kane architectural firm (1912-2011) of Edwardsville includes architectural plans for local buildings. View the Kane collection in the Online Archive