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Research Requests and Research Center Access

The McHenry County Historical Society's Research Center contains an astonishing collection of recordings, periodicals, other print materials, postcards, personal letters, maps, obituary files, images, and more from McHenry County. However, unlike a public library, because of these items' fragile and historic nature, the McHenry County Historical Society's Research Center is accessible only by appointment after completing a research request. In addition, because volunteers staff the Center on limited days/hours, we cannot accommodate walk-ins, no matter the circumstances or distance traveled. Once your research request is submitted, we will begin the research, contact you about what we've found, and then schedule an appointment for you to come in if needed. MCHS membership benefits include up to three complimentary research requests per year, but copying and image fees apply. There is a $30 research request fee for submissions made by non-members.

**Please see our Research Center Guidelines for additional information, including general guidelines, photocopy restrictions and fees, copyright rules, and digital image purchases**

Research requests must be made by postal mail or by submitting an online request below. We cannot take requests for research over the phone or email. Please allow us at least three weeks to complete your request. If you make your request online, you will receive a written report and scans of supporting documents such as maps, newspaper clippings, pages from history books, photos, letters, etcIf you submit a request by mail, your report and documents will be copied and mailed. The researcher assigned to your project may contact you for more information. 

Requests Made By Mail: If you wish to complete your request by mail, you can download the mail-in form. Your form must be complete and include the $30 fee. Please include your contact information, including your name, phone number, email address, the subject of your request, and any references you may have already searched to avoid duplication of effort. For genealogical requests, include family names, birth & death dates, homestead location, and other potentially helpful information. Mail your request, and if you are not a member, send a check for the $30 research fee to McHenry County Historical Society  P.O. Box 434 Union, IL 60180.

Requests Made Online: Please complete the required information, the subject of your request, and any references you may have already searched to avoid duplication of effort. For genealogical requests, include family names, birth & death dates, homestead location, and other potentially helpful information.

Note: If you are NOT a McHenry County Historical Society member, you must make your $30 payment before submitting your research request. Once you have paid, complete the Research Request Form.


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Online Research Request Form

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Research Center FAQs and other helpful information

In September 2022, our Library Committee and Staff celebrated the library's 40th Anniversary of service to our constituents. The committee edited and prepared an extensive eight-page commemorative brochure for the event.

Read it here: Commemorative 40th Library History Brochure.

Library Holdings

The McHenry County Historical Society's Research Center contains an extensive array of Information about McHenry County history, including but not limited to subject files, biography files, obituary files, photograph files, local history books, scrapbooks, diaries, tax records, patentee books, plat maps, yearbooks, telephone directories and much more. 

These lists give an idea of the information available when making a research request.

  • Researcher's Resource Guide shows the library location of the most used resources.

  • Vertical File Headings List represents our extensive files on subjects and businesses.

  • Biographical File Headings List is a list of file folders in the Biography vertical file and covers information about the people of McHenry County. If common, the surname may have more than one folder, the second or third one with a geographic location added. You also may find additional information under the "see references" heading.

  • School File Headings List represents the folders on current high and elementary schools, old one-room country schools and special institutions. In addition, these files may include class pictures and reunion events.

  • Community File Headings List represents the town and township folders consisting of government activities or events that didn't fit into another subject, such as town history.

  • We also maintain select local organizations' records subject to specific Organization Record Guidelines.

  • Another valuable resource: Bibliography of McHenry County History Materials.



The copyright law of the United States (Title 17 United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any other purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for or later uses a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement.
The institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve a violation of copyright law.