Local History



Batavia Public Library’s Local History Room, located on the main floor near the Reference Desk, contains extensive holdings of printed and microfilm materials about genealogy and the history of Batavia and Kane County; some histories of the Fox River Valley and Illinois; and numerous published guides to sources and how to do research in repositories elsewhere in the United States and abroad.


Collections in the Local History Room are for in-Library use only, but they are supplemented by similar printed materials in the circulating collection and by online reference databases.


Librarians at the Adult Services Reference Desk will be glad to help you locate materials that you need.


Newspaper microfilm includes the Batavia Herald (1893-1976), the Batavia Chronicle (1976-1990), the Kane County Chronicle (1990-present); and the Aurora Beacon (1848-1913), with subsequent years to be added from time to time. There are occasional gaps in surviving files for early years. Other microfilm publications include Life (1963-1972, 1991-2000), New York Times Book Review (1992-2006), Newsweek (1964-present), Time (1964-present), and U.S. News and World Report (1974-present).


Census microfilm is available for Kane County for 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. Federal and state censuses for the United States for 1790-1930 can be accessed online at the Library through the Library's reference databases HeritageQuest and Ancestry Library Edition. Patrons with a Batavia Public Library card can access HeritageQuest (but not Ancestry Library Edition) from their home computers.





Other sources in the Local History Room include:


  • City Directories for the Tri-Cities (Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles) from 1910-present
  • Batavia Telephone Directories from 1916-1956 and some recent directories
  • Batavia High School Yearbooks from 1912-present (with occasional gaps)
  • Marriage records, 1836-1906
  • Naturalization records, 1857-1955
  • Typescript lists and indexes to Kane County census records
  • The Batavia Biography File in binders compiled by the Batavia Historical Society
  • Guides to cemetery records
  • Atlases and plat books for Kane County
  • General works on how to do genealogical research
  • Published guides about where to locate birth, marriage, death, other vital records; and where to locate printed, manuscript, and online genealogy sources in archives and libraries in other city, county, state, federal, and foreign repositories
  • Published guides to researching African, British, German, Irish, Italian, Welsh, and other ethnic and immigrant ancestors

    Reference Databases:

    • HeritageQuest includes federal censuses from 1790 to 1930, though some years (1830-1850, 1880, and 1930) have not been indexed and must be located through a browse search. An extremely important feature makes it unnecessary to travel to distant repositories: full-text for over 22,000 family and local histories searchable by people, places, and publications. You can also search PERSI (a Periodical Source Index) to locate citations (but not full-text) for relevant periodical articles.

    • Ancestry Library Edition (accessible only at the Library) also includes federal censuses for 1790 to 1930, and all years have been indexed. In addition to numerous family and local histories, this database also provides access to digitized birth, marriage, death, immigration, court, land, and probate records; family trees; and a variety of blank forms that you can use to record your genealogical research.
    • America’s Obituaries & Death Notices includes full-text for recent obituaries from over 400 U.S. newspapers. Obituaries in most newspapers have been digitized and indexed only for the last two decades or less. Obituaries in the Chicago Tribune, however, have been digitized and indexed from 1860-present.


    Gaps in Our Holdings?


    The Batavia Public Library would be glad to receive materials such as the following for our Local History Room:

    1. Batavia High School Yearbooks. We would like to have two extra copies for each year for backup in case of loss in addition to the copy on the shelf in the Local History Room. If you no longer wish to keep your yearbook or are settling an estate for a relative, please contact the Adult Services Reference Desk (630) 879-4777.
    2. Published or typescript genealogies for current or former residents of Batavia and Kane County.
    3. Published histories for Batavia churches, organizations, and businesses.
    4. Other published accounts of life in Batavia, Kane County, and the Fox River Valley.

    Additional Links: (coming soon)

    • Batavia: What’s in a Name

    • Take Root in Your Family Tree: Resources for Genealogy and Local History in the Batavia Public Library
    • Genealogy and Local History subscription databases
    • Genealogy web sites (from the Library’s Genealogy on the Internet class)

    • Using Heritage Quest and Other Resources for Genealogy and Local History Research, A PowerPoint Tutorial by Robert L. Brubaker