Collections and research

The Vault

What was once an office was replaced by a bank vault to store I & M Canal documents, money, and anything else deemed value to the functioning of the Canal.  These days, the Vault houses the document and artifact collection of the Will County Historical Museum.  Visitors can step back in time and view these documents, artifacts, and other exciting surprises, many of which are still contained in original 1830s drawers.

Historical Research

We have an extensive and varied collection of approximate 70,000 archival documents and artifacts that describe the period, places, and people of Will County and the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Some of the items that are in our possession date back to the mid-1800s and consist of:

- Canal, County, and Court records 

- Church records

- Local newspapers on microfilm 

- Architectural surveys  

- Photographs

- And much more!

Research and Genealogical Room

Our Research and Genealogical Room is available to the public for their research needs.  Our staff is happy to help with your research and genealogy questions/projects.


Some files for genealogical and research purposes stored at the museum are now available for download. Check back often because more will be added upon completion.​ 


Sources that the Will County Historical Museum uses for research include:

- Ancestry.com   

- Early 20th Century Will County African American Genealogical Records.  [These sources are found on our Downloadable Forms page.]

- Obituaries  

- School year books   

- Mortgages   

- Cemetery books   

- Thousands of photographs       

If you would like us to assist you in your research, please submit a Research Request form