Secretary of State (Index Division): Executive Section.  Oaths of Commissioners of Deeds in Other States, 1845-1913
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Brief Description: Oaths of office of Illinois commissioners of deeds in other states, territories, and foreign countries were filed with the Secretary of State. Commissioners were appointed to certify deeds and other instruments and to administer oaths in other states and territories. Oath includes signatures of commissioner and legal witnesses and seal of office. Correspondence concerning recommendations for appointment and reappointment often is included.
Held at:
Illinois State Archives
M. C. Norton Building
Springfield, IL 62756
Phone: 217-782-3492
Fax: 217-524-3930
Email: isareference [at]
Record Series Number: 103/079
Created by: Secretary of State - RG 103
Volume: 4.0 Cubic Feet
Arrangement: Chronological.
Biographical Note for Secretary of State - RG 103 :

The Office of Secretary of State, successor to the territorial Secretary, was established by the Constitution of 1818 to keep the archives of the state and a register of the official acts of the Governor. The Secretary of State was appointed by the Governor until the Constitution of 1848 made the office elective. The Secretary also was instructed to perform "such other duties as shall be assigned him by law."

Another constitutional provision required reapportionment of the General Assembly every five years. To meet this requirement censuses were conducted and filed with the Secretary of State in 1820, 1825, 1830, 1835, 1840, and 1845. The Constitution of 1848, however, specified that reapportionment be based on decennial federal census returns, whenever possible, instead of state returns. Thus state censuses were taken in 1855 and 1865 but not in 1850 and 1860 when federal censuses were used for reapportionment. The Constitution of 1870 eliminated the need for any state census by making reapportionment necessary only every ten years and by establishing the federal census as the basis for any readjustment.

Over the years the General Assembly also has instructed the Secretary of State to administer various acts, among which are the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code, Illinois Business Corporation Act, Illinois Securities Act, Franchise Disclosure Act, Uniform Commercial Code, Illinois Government Ethics Act, Notary Public Act, Lobbyist Registration Act, Trademark Act, and Local Records Act. The Secretary also serves as State Librarian, State Archivist, and custodian of buildings and grounds in the capitol complex. He is constitutionally required to maintain the acts of the General Assembly, specified official records of the executive branch, and the Great Seal of Illinois. The Secretary of State functions as the clerk of the Court of Claims and serves on numerous boards and commissions. The Secretary's office also is responsible for the distribution of many official publications.

Many functions formerly exercised by the Secretary of State have been abolished or transferred to the jurisdiction of other state agencies. Until 1973 the Secretary supervised state elections; he also acted as the Superintendent of Common Schools (1845-1854), State Sealer of Weights and Measures (1843-1883), and clerk to the Council of Revision (1831-1848).

The administrative structure of the Secretary of State's office has undergone frequent change. Many departments and divisions have been established and abolished by the Secretary in order to execute his statutory duties. Currently the State Archives holds records that reflect the Secretary of State's responsibilities in these areas:

Index. The Department of Archives and Index was created in 1873 to "make and keep proper indexes to the executive records and all public acts, resolutions, papers and documents" filed with the Secretary of State (Rev. Stat. 1874, p. 986). However the department did not develop as an archival institution; instead it concerned itself primarily with the care of current records. The provision in 1921 of an Archives Division within the State Library allowed for the transfer of non-current records from the Index Division.

Over the years the other responsibilities of the Index Division have increased significantly. In relation to the activities of the General Assembly the division is concerned with the compilation and distribution of the session laws and journals of the House and Senate, filing of fair copies of enrolled acts and resolutions, and the registration of lobbyists. In 1971 the division began to file verbatim transcripts of the debates of the General Assembly. Other major duties include the filing of deeds, abstracts, and leases for state property; issuing of certificates of incorporation to municipalities and airport and hospital authorities; collecting and tabulating wage rates throughout the state; filing certain state contracts and administrative regulations adopted by state agencies; registering trademarks; administering the Illinois Government Ethics Act; and enrolling constitutional amendments. All of these duties are performed by the following sections of the Index Division: Administrative, Rules, Trademark, Ethics, and Federal Campaign. Until the creation in 1972 of the State Board of Elections, the Index Division also filed nominating petitions, certificates of nomination, and election returns for primary and general elections and issued certificates of nomination and election.

The Executive Section of the Index Division has held unique responsibilities in the Secretary of State's office, most of which arose from the Constitution of 1818 which required the Secretary of State to maintain the official papers and a register of the official acts of the Governor. In 1895 the first separate statutory appropriation for an executive clerk to perform these duties was enacted (L. 1895, p. 49). The Executive Section affixes the Great Seal of Illinois to documents relating to official acts of the Governor (e.g., preparing and registering petitions for writs of extradition, requisitions, pardons, and restorations of rights of citizenship). It also files commissions, oaths, and bonds of state and county officers and commissions of notaries public; appointments of the Governor; Senate confirmations of gubernatorial appointments; proclamations of the Governor; executive orders; commutations of sentence; denials of executive clemency; and appointments of public administrators and deputies of county offices.

Corporations. Until 1848 all corporations were chartered by special acts of the General Assembly. After the adoption of the Constitution of 1848 the Secretary of State was authorized by numerous statutes to charter and regulate specific types of corporations. However many of these corporations continued to obtain charters through special acts of the General Assembly. After the ratification of the Constitution of 1870, which prohibited the formation of corporations through special acts of the General Assembly, an 1871 statute charged the Secretary of State exclusively with chartering and regulating corporations (L. 1871, p. 296). In 1895 the first specific appropriation for the employment of corporation clerks was made and the Corporation Division soon developed (L. 1895, p. 49).

The Corporation Division is responsible for the administration of the general corporation acts of the state which include the Business Corporation Act of 1933, the General Not-for-Profit Corporation Act of 1943, the Cooperative Act of 1915, the Agricultural Cooperative Act of 1923, and the Railroad Act of 1872. To execute the provisions of these acts the Corporation Division issues charters for domestic (i.e., in-state) corporations; issues permits for foreign (i.e., out-of-state) corporations to do business in the state; maintains records of all corporations operating in Illinois including names and addresses of officers, amount of authorized capital stock, changes in bylaws, or dissolutions; requires the filing of certified annual reports; and assesses and collects franchise taxes and other fees.

Securities. The Securities Division was created in 1919 to administer the Illinois Securities Law which provides protection to Illinois investors against fraudulent securities and fraudulent methods in the sale of securities (L. 1919, p. 351). The statute was rewritten extensively in 1953 to prevent fraud and inequity in the sale of stocks, bonds, and other securities by requiring the registration of securities before offering them for sale and the registration of securities dealers, salesmen, and investment advisors (L. 1953, p. 1329). The Securities Division also conducts administrative hearings and investigations into suspected violations of the Illinois Securities Law. In 1974 the division began to administer the Franchise Disclosure Act which requires all persons selling business franchises in the state to file a business disclosure statement (P.A. 78-906, p. 2860).

Anti-trust. In 1891 an act was passed prohibiting the formation of trusts but no specific duties were assigned to the Secretary of State until the law was amended in 1893 (L. 1891, p. 206; L. 1893, p. 89). The Secretary then was instructed to require every corporation doing business in the state to file an annual affidavit affirming that it was not a member of or party to any pool, trust, or combination in restraint of trade. In 1895 another law was passed providing an appropriation for anti-trust clerks (L. 1895, p. 49). After 1919 these statements no longer were required to be filed with the Secretary of State (L. 1919, p. 312).

Fiscal Control. After the enactment of a statute in 1872 requiring the Secretary of State to submit a biennial report to the Governor, it became necessary for the Secretary to employ a bookkeeper to maintain all accounts of his office (L. 1871, p. 749). In 1927 an Accounting Department was created by appropriation to receive all fees collected by the Secretary of State (L. 1927, p. 105). Until 1947 the bookkeeper continued to keep separate accounts of expenditures. At this time both offices were merged into one unit. These duties again were divided in 1957 between the Accounting-Budget Division and the Accounting-Revenue Division. In 1973 these divisions became part of the Fiscal Control Department which was created to receive and bank all Secretary of State revenues, maintain permanent records of all expenditures, prepare the budget for submission to the General Assembly, and to account for all capital expenditures for buildings and grounds, furniture, and equipment under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State.

Printer Expert. The position of Printer Expert was created in 1872 to prepare specifications for printing bids, read proof, measure work, estimate the quantity of paper required for each job, and examine state printing accounts (L. 1871, p. 613). The Printer Expert was under the supervision of the Secretary of State but not subject to his orders. Any disputes between the Printer Expert and the Secretary of State were resolved by the Commissioners of State Contracts. In 1915 the duties of the Printer Expert were transferred to the Superintendent of Printing (L. 1915, p. 671).

Shipping. In 1819 the General Assembly passed an act requiring the Secretary of State to keep an account of postage used for official purposes (L. 1819, p. 254). Later a separate appropriation for a shipping clerk was provided by statute (L. 1895, p. 49). The Shipping Division receives and processes outgoing mail, incoming and outgoing express, parcel post mail, and freight; provides storage space for publications and printed forms of the Secretary's office and distributes them as directed; maintains inventory records of items received and quantities dispersed from stock; and acts as a limited receiver of printed materials for other agencies and makes deliveries to designated departments.

Motor Vehicles. In 1907 the General Assembly passed an act requiring all motor vehicles to be registered with the Secretary of State (L. 1907, p. 510).The first appropriation for a separate automobile clerk was made in 1909 (L. 1909, p. 75). Since then the duties of the Secretary of State have expanded considerably in the regulation of motor vehicles. The Secretary of State is responsible for the registration and licensing of motor vehicles, issuance of motor vehicle titles, issuance and suspension of drivers' licenses, administration of safety and financial responsibility laws, and regulation of driver training schools.

State Library. The Illinois State Library was created in 1843 to provide books to members and officers of the General Assembly and other state officials (L. 1843, p. 290). The Library was placed under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State who also was designated State Librarian. In 1867 the Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction additionally were named as commissioners to aid in the management of the State Library (L. 1867, p. 28). Their duties became strictly advisory in 1921 and were assumed in 1939 by a State Library Advisory Committee whose members are appointed by the Secretary of State (L. 1921, p. 837; L. 1939, p. 697). In addition to providing services for state officials and employees the State Library promotes, supports, and implements library service throughout the state.

State Archives. The Division of Archives and Index, the predecessor of the Illinois State Archives, was established in 1873. However it failed to develop as an archival unit and concerned itself primarily with the care of current records. In 1921 the Secretary of State established an Archives Division within the State Library for the purpose of properly caring for official state records that have permanent historical, legal, or administrative value (L. 1921, p. 837). The State Records Act of 1957 made the Illinois State Archives an independent division, designated the Secretary of State as State Archivist, created the State Records Commission, and provided for the improvement of records management practices in state departments and agencies (L. 1957, p. 1687).

Public Information. A Public Information Division was formed in 1944 to keep Illinois citizens informed of the proper procedures for filing legal documents with the Secretary of State and of services available to them through the office. From 1951 to 1957 the division also was known as the Public Relations Department. In 1970 Public Information became part of the Communications Department, which provides general information on many aspects of the Secretary of State's office.

Access Restrictions: None.
Subject Index
Commissioners of Deeds
Employment Seekers
Index Department
Oaths of Office
Secretary of State
PreferredCitation: Secretary of State, "Executive Section.  Oaths of Commissioners of Deeds in Other States," Record Series 103.079, Illinois State Archives.