About the Illinois State Archives Illinois State Archives

The Illinois State Archives was established in 1921. Margaret Cross Norton, its first director, gained an international reputation for her work in its administration and in the development of professional archival practice in the United States. The Archives Building in Springfield was rededicated in Norton's honor in 1995.

The State Archives serves as the depository of public records of Illinois state and local governmental agencies which possess permanent administrative, legal, or historical research values. Its collections do not include manuscript, newspaper, or other nonofficial sources. These records are available to the public, officials, and scholars at the Norton Building and at seven regional depositories located on state university campuses throughout Illinois. The Archives provides access through a series of printed and electronic guides, and by in-person, mail, telephone, fax, and Internet database reference services.

Administrative Section

Services include: Contacts

Operations/Reference Section

This section accessions state governmental records, provides physical control over these records holdings and provides reference to state governmental records holdings.


Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD) Section

This section operates a system of Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD) and provides reference to local governmental records holdings.


Publications Section

This section provides intellectual access to Archives' holdings. Its services include publishing guides to state and local records holdings, preparing special finding aids for significant record series, developing teaching packages that are made available to Illinois educational institutions free of charge, and issuing a newsletter three times a year.


Restoration Laboratory Section

This section operates a laboratory for the conservation and restoration of documents housed within the Archives.


Records Management Section

This section schedules state and local governmental records (including, but not limited to, electronic records, paper records, and paper records that are digitized or microfilmed) for disposal, intermediate retention, microfilming, records center storage, and transfer to the Archives.


Micrographics Section

This section microfilms original source documents and produces Computer Output Microfilm (COM) for the Secretary of State's office and other state agencies.


Margaret Cross Norton Building

The Margaret Cross Norton Building was constructed from 1936 to 1938 as the official repository of state documents of permanent value. Prior to its construction, valuable military records were kept in the State Arsenal, located at the site of the present State Armory in Springfield. In February 1934, a 10-year-old boy set the Arsenal on fire, destroying many of the military documents and records. Following the fire, Secretary of State Edward Hughes supported legislation to construct the State Archives Building. The limestone-faced building was designed to protect the state's records of enduring value from the hazards of fire, humidity, heat, vermin, theft and exposure. The names of twenty-three men and two women are engraved around the top of the building. These individuals, chosen by the State Board of Art Advisors, made contributions to the cultural, social, educational, political and economic development of both the state and nation. All of the honorees were deceased before the building opened: