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Genealogy & Community History

Glass fronted bookshelf with historic editions

The Emma and Robert Wegman Community History Center

Located on the second floor of the Santori Public Library in downtown Aurora

The Community History Center houses materials related to the history of Aurora, Illinois as well as genealogy reference books. The purpose of the Community History Collection is to preserve materials that document the history of Aurora and to make these materials available for research. The library holds these materials in trust for future generations, and therefore they can be examined in the local history room only. 


Black and white photo of the Carnegie Building covered in ivy
Aurora Public Library, the original Carnegie building on Benton and Stolp Aves., 1947

Now Available Online

Aurora Historic Photographs

The images in this collection are now freely available and openly accessible through Illinois Digital Archives. They depict Aurora, IL and the surrounding area from the 1870s through the 2020s. The collection contains photographs and postcards that cover a variety of subjects, including public libraries, Aurora downtown, historic buildings, and portrait photography. The images are part of the Aurora Public Library District's Community History Collection, which preserves and makes available for research materials of enduring value related to Aurora, Illinois.

View the Collection

Current Programs & Displays

A great reason to visit the library! We have frequent programs and bimonthly community history displays that you can visit in person.

On Display Now:

Aurora's Own Frank Haven Hall

Learn about the inventor of the Hall Braille Writer who served as West Aurora superintendent in the 1800s.

Walk-In Genealogy Assistance

Monthly at each location

Aurora in the 1950 Census

Monday, August 5, 7-8 p.m.

Explore the history of your community through the lens of the 1950 census! Scott Norrick will navigate us through the cultural and economic changes that took place mid-century in our community.

Collections Available at the Emma and Robert Wegman Community History Center

Microfilm readerArchival Collections– The Community History Collection contains primary source materials on a variety of topics. Find folder listings here (). Additionally, the Wilkinson Family Collection includes photographs, documents, and personal items from Aurora icon and social/civil rights activist, Marie Wilkinson, her husband Charles, and their children, Sheila and Donald.

Aurora Historic Photographs – The images in this collection depict Aurora, IL and the surrounding area from the 1870s through the 2020s. The collection contains photographs and postcards that cover a variety of subjects, including public libraries, Aurora downtown, historic buildings, and portrait photography. Available through Illinois Digital Archives.

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. The 1929 edition contains the address conversion index, which lists old and new house numbers.

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. Available through Illinois Digital Archives.

Miscellaneous Collections – The Emma & Robert Wegman Community History Center 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: 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

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, 1969 – 2021
• 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 – 2016
• Mooseheart High School, 1923
• Nequa Valley High School, 1998 - 2001
• Roncali High School, 1966 – 1968
• Rosary High School, 1967 – 2016
• Waubonsie Valley High School, 1979 – 2021
• West Aurora High School, 1911 – 2010

Digital Resources

APLD Indexes (excel format)

Aurora Address Conversion Index
In the Fall of 1928, the city of Aurora conducted a massive change of addresses to end years of inconsistencies and confusion. The City Directory from 1929 printed a chart that provided both old and new numbers for all the homes and businesses within the city limits. If you are interested in tracing the history of an Aurora building that predates 1929, you will want to consult our Aurora Address Conversion Index to locate older numbers for the property in question.
The Beacon Obituary Index
The Beacon Obituary Index is a work in progress at the Santori Public Library, and currently contains over 113,000 searchable entries. These citations provide you with the name of the deceased, the date and the page number of obituaries, death notices, and other Beacon News articles that deal with the demise of a local person.
G.A.R. Post #20 Deaths Index
If you have ancestors from Aurora who served in The Civil War, you may consult our G.A.R. Post #20 Deaths Index.
The Kane County Marriage License Index
The Kane County Marriage License Index lists all the couples who applied for licenses from the beginning of the county until 1906.
The St. Nicholas Marriage Index
The St. Nicholas Marriage Index will give information about wedding dates and participants who were married at the St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church between 1893 and 1919.
The War Veterans and Burials Index
The War Veterans and Burials Index
The War Veterans and Burials Index contains information about all known veterans of American wars, death dates and burial sites to 1927.

(For these databases, can we make the column headings appear at the top no matter how far into the database one goes?)

Cemetary Index
includes information compiled from a variety of Aurora and Kane County resources covering the people and places in our city’s history.

Get Started with Family History

Ancestry Library Edition
Powered by, the number one source for family history online. In-library use only.
Family Search Online Classes
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. Accessible for free at the library.
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
Grow your family tree, find new relatives, and explore billions of historical records. Accessible for free with your library card.
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

Heritage Hub
Heritage Hub
Explore your family history with the premier collection of U.S. obituaries and death notices for in-depth genealogical research from 1704 – today.
National Genealogical Society
Getting Started
Includes research tips and hints, organizing your work, how to build your family tree, and more!
Go to the Next Level
Includes online courses, book recommendations, and articles.
Building Advanced Skills
Among the important skills outlined in this section, family history researchers will learn techniques for solving difficult problems of identity.
Free Genealogy Resources
Find free genealogy charts, templates, and tutorials on the US Census and How to Borrow Books from the NGS Book Loan Collection.
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


Listen to the BBC documentary "Can Latinos Save America," which focuses on the growing Latinx community in Aurora, IL.

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Genealogy & Community History Resources