Collections and research

The Vault and Research and Genealogical Room

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 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 and rolling shelves.  

In 2014, to aid researchers in finding out more information on the topics they are searching for, we established our new, user friendly Historical and Genealogical Research Room.  Researchers are provided access to not only the museum’s extensive collections, but also the following sources from across Will County.

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 

- Plat maps  

- Blueprints  

- Miscellaneous correspondence 

- Mortgages

- Chattel mortgages  

- Civil War histories    

- E J & E Employee List

- And so much more!  

Genealogical Research

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


- Early 20th Century Will County African American Genealogical Records (1)  (2)

- Obituaries

- School year books 

- Mortgages 

- Cemetery books 

- Thousands of photographs  

If you would like us to help you get started with your research, please fill out and return our Research Request Form.