Lincoln-Douglas Debate Brochure

Found in the SCGS Archives!

The Lincoln-Douglas Society and FHN’s brochure on Freeport and Stephenson County, highlighting Debate Square.  Comes complete with a Lincoln-Douglas Debate Pop Quiz!

Debate Square brochure Intro

Debate Square Points of Interest Map

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Pop Quiz and Society Info



Freeport Cemetery Self Tour p1

Compiled and written by Gloria Moeller, Librarian, Freeport JHS and
Judy Birdsell, President, Stephenson County Historical Society

Includes The Hourglass and the Empty Chair by Linda Tosch:
Meanings of Cemetery Markers/Tombstone Symbols

Publication year: Unknown

Found in SCGS files: a self-guided tour of Freeport City Cemetery!  Includes history of the cemetery, some of those interred there and more!

Freeport City Cemetery Self Tour

Freeport Cemetery Self Tour p1

Freeport Cemetery Self Tour p2

Freeport Cemetery Self Tour p3

Freeport Cemetery Self Tour p4

Freeport Cemetery Self Tour Map

The Hourglass and the Empty Chair p1

The Hourglass and the Empty Chair p2


Vital Records Available through SCGS

Vital Records (Births, Deaths, Marriages) Currently Available through SCGS:

BIRTHS:  May 3, 1855 to November 04, 1918

DEATHS:  January 6, 1878 to December 27, 1968

MARRIAGES:  June 24, 1837 to December 29, 1940

To order a genealogical-use-only copy of a vital record, contact us through our Research Request page. There is a $2 fee for each vital record ordered.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Photo!

Okay, so it’s a re-enactment (you can tell with certainty by the photo of Lincoln on the stage–he has a beard, which Lincoln did not have until his presidency) but it’s a very long ago re-enactment!

Update: The Stephenson County Historical Society has now confirmed this photo is from the 1908 50th Anniversary celebration.

The Stephenson County Historical Society (1440 S Carroll Avenue, Freeport) provided the following information on Freeport, Illinois Lincoln-Douglas Debate re-enactments.

1903- President Roosevelt came and dedicated the monument
1908- 50th Anniversary
1915- 57th Anniversary (no one knows why there was a 57th but it seems there was!)
1929- Unveiling of the Lincoln the Debater statue
1958- Centennial celebration
2008- Sesquicentennial celebration

Neither Laura Keyes (Head of Adult & Technical Services, Freeport Public Library and Mary Todd Lincoln presenter) nor the Historical Society are 100 percent sure at which one this picture was taken, but it’s not likely 1903, because it doesn’t look like the other pictures Laura has seen of that year but it still could be.  Her guess would be the 1908 or 1915.

Sanborn Maps: Freeport 1890

1890 Sanborn Maps of Freeport, Illinois are just one of the thousands of resources available in the Frances Woodhouse History Room (Freeport Public Library).  Stop in to see what else we have or view this group of 1890 maps of Freeport here!














Map Your Way into History

The Woodhouse History Room has historic maps!  Find where your ancestors lived in Stephenson County and, especially, Freeport throughout the 20th and even in parts of the 19th century by looking at our plat maps and using city directories .  Discover old businesses and existing businesses which have long called Stephenson County home.

Freeport Public Library History Room is open six days a week.  Check the bottom of our Home page for each week’s hours.

Frances Woodhouse History Room

The greatest Hidden Gem of the Stephenson County Genealogical Society (SCGS) is its home: The Frances Woodhouse History Room in the Freeport Public Library.  Few genealogical societies have such a residence available to them and even fewer with the quality and resources the Frances Woodhouse History Room provides.

The Stephenson County Genealogical Society (SCGS) maintains a long-term partnership with the Freeport Public Library.   SCGS supports the Freeport Public Library by providing volunteers to work in the Library’s Frances Woodhouse History Room six days a week.  Additionally, many of the 4500-plus books, magazines and genealogical materials in the History Room stacks are from SCGS collections.

The Library provides SCGS file space to maintain our organization files, vital records, books-for-sale, and more.  Additionally, the Library provides meeting space for SCGS monthly meetings and programs.

Beyond logistics, the Library and SCGS partner on genealogical- and area-history-specific programming and projects.  The Genealogical Society has spent considerable volunteer hours indexing many of the materials in the stacks and has developed a surname card file and searchable database for the newspapers on microfilm in the Library’s collection.  SCGS has provided financial support for Library programs such as 2017’s One Book, One Freeport and 2018’s Association of Lincoln Presenters’ Convention.

Manned by SCGS members most mornings and at least one afternoon, visitors are welcomed by knowledgeable volunteer staff to guide researchers through the 4,500 books and source materials—enough to make any genealogist or family historian giddy.

Spacious areas include five microfilm machines, including a computer microfilm device that allows the user to download images to a usb drive or email images to themselves.  For History Room guests who are not residents of the City of Freeport, one-day computer passes are provided.  Volunteers will assist those unfamiliar with the computer- or traditional-microfilm machines.  For those who prefer to print newspaper articles, printers are available and copies are a mere 10¢ per page.

The History Room also provides guests with access to Ancestry Plus (world-wide) to offer immediate access to ancestor information.  Ancestry Plus allows library users to access and print information but not save to an Ancestry tree; however, History Room computers also have Internet access so those who have trees on Ancestry may open their own accounts and save information while at the library.

Vital Records

Why spend more for your vital records??

Why get your genealogical birth, marriage and death records through the County at their high prices?  The Stephenson County Genealogical Society (SCGS) provides genealogy-copy vital records for researchers and family historians at $2 per record.

Vital Records for Stephenson provided at $2 per document (plus postage, if mailed)

Marriage           24 June 1837         through     29 December 1940

Births                  3 May 1855          through     8 June 1915

Delayed Births    23 January 1903   through     26 January 1912

Deaths                6 January 1870     through     23 December 1964

Vital records can be requested in-person of SCGS volunteers in the Frances Woodhouse History Room at the Freeport Public Library (100 Douglas Street, Freeport, IL) during volunteer hours. If you are unable to visit the History Room during regular volunteer hours, you can request an appointment via email.

Vital records can be requested online through our Request Research page; however, genealogy vital records will only be emailed or mailed once payment is received.

Family Histories

The Stephenson County Genealogical Society (SCGS) has more than 400 Stephenson County family histories in bound books and binders and maintains additional family files—some of which contain many of the photos used on our SCGS website.

A listing of family histories by surname can be viewed here.

Family histories are available for review only in the Frances Woodhouse History Room in the Freeport Public Library (100 Douglas Street, Freeport, IL).  Copies can be made of our family history materials in the History Room (10¢ per copy).

For access to SCGS files, ask the SCGS volunteer in the History Room for access to both SCGS and Freeport Public Library vertical files.  Vertical files are only available with assistance by an SCGS volunteer.  For History Room hours click here or for an appointment.

The History Room also provides two histories of Stephenson County that include biographical information on Stephenson County families.

  • The History ofStephenson County, Illinois compiled by MH Tilden
  • Historyof Stephenson County, Illinois : a record of its settlement, organization, and three-quarters of a century of progress / by Addison L. Fulwider

Freeport City Directories

The Frances Woodhouse History Room in the Freeport Public Library (100 Douglas Street, Freeport, IL) maintains Freeport City Directories for most years beginning 1877 through 2016.  These directories can be viewed only in the History Room.  You can make copies of pages at 10¢ per page.

City directories are a wonderful resource for tracing local families.  Listed both by house address and alphabetically by surname, individuals perhaps not otherwise found may be located in a directory.  Long-time residents can be tracked year by year by where they lived.

Perhaps a shift from rental to homeownership indicates a job change.  Many of the early directories even list occupation and the name of the firm where the individual worked.  A move might help corroborate when a child was added to the family.

Considering a house history?  City directories are the invaluable resource for learning who actually lived in a house, as opposed to who owned the property.  These are a wonderful resource to support your deed searches and provide the starting point for family genealogy of a home’s residents.