SPRINGFIELD - It took historian Greg Koos just a few seconds Friday to offer his review of a new state Web site.
"That's pretty neat," said the director of the McLean County Museum of History after a quick sampling of a new database that allows people to search the names and personal information of soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
"It makes it really convenient for people doing genealogical research," Koos said. "I can see how it would be useful."
The revamped research tool, available at www.ilsos.gov/genealogy, replaces large, bulky ledger books that could only be accessed at the state archives building in Springfield.
With the assistance of volunteer Fred Delap of Kansas, Ill., the Secretary of State's office, which oversees the state archives, entered information into the electronic database.
Previously, the state website had an index of the names of the state's more than 285,000 Civil War soldiers, but it did not contain any personal information about them.
The new, searchable database contains the names of soldiers who fought with Illinois units during the Civil War, as well as their ages, physical descriptions, hometown and service record.
It also contains the dates they entered and left the service.
The various search possibilities include compiling all soldiers from a particular city, town or county. A sample search found that there were 467 soldiers listed as coming from Union County, which is located in the far southern part of the state.
"This will be a boon to genealogists and historians looking for information," said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.