Category Archives: Program Summaries

Summary of Our Recent May 10, 2011 Genealogy Program with Dr. Paul Valasek on the Topic of Austro-Hungarian Genealogy Research

Hi Everyone!

Here is a summary of our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, May 10, 2011.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Dr. Paul Valasek, D.D.S.  Paul presented a program titled “Why My Austro-Hungarian Ancestors Were Neither Austrian or Hungarian”.

We had a good turnout for this early Spring program.  We had 54 participants in attendance!

I started the program at 7:30 PM with the introduction of new participants.  We had about 9 new participants who shared with all of us their name, their description of the their newness to genealogy and some of the surnames they were researching.  Each new participant received a Welcome package from me with some good tips on how to move forward on their research journey using a variety of resources both within and outside our library.

Post Card Example Used by Dr. Paul Valasek Containing Many Clues on Austro-Hungarian Connections

I indicated to the group that I would like to forego reviewing some of the handout material so that we could get to our speaker by 7:45 PM rather than 8:00 PM and allow more un-rushed time after the speaker should anyone want to talk to me or the speaker.  Because the material is all available online everyone can take a deeper look at it on their own.  I just briefly reviewed some upcoming program dates and topics for a variety of groups in the area.

 You can easily find all of our monthly library genealogy “Newsletters” in this blog along the right sidebar.  You can also find all of our monthly library genealogy “Handouts” in this blog along the right sidebar.  Take some time to look at the current issues as well as the past ones.  These are PDF files so you can look at them from the within the blog or download them to your own computer.  All are filled with electronic bookmarks, hyperlinks, internet URL links for you to quickly find material and to link to topics of interest on the internet.  That is the beauty of these electronic files!

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have on the material contained in the Newsletter or the Handout material.

Audience Viewing One of Dr. Paul Valasek's Many Informative Slides on Austro-Hungarian Problem Solving Tips

Dr. Paul Valasek, D.D.S. then started his presentation at around 7:50 PM.

I can tell you this with all candor.  Paul’s PowerPoint presentation was a real dazzler!  I have had many genealogy speakers use PowerPoint.  But so far to date, no one has incorporated such “electronic glitz, glamor and special effects” as did the one we saw from Paul this evening.  It was impressive!  I did hear from a “little birdie” that although Paul presented the material in an incredibly informative manner, the PowerPoint presentation, using all of the special effects, was actually created by Paul’s wife!  Isn’t it wonderful to see what teamwork can do!!

The idea of seeing an entry in some record identifying an ancestor as “Austro-Hungarian” can definitely be misleading.  As Paul’s presentation showed, you cannot assume your ancestor was either Austrian or Hungarian!

The Austro-Hungarian Empire that was founded in 1867 was truly a multi-ethnic, multi-national, multi-racial and multi-religious empire.  So if you are seeing an ancestor identify themselves as simply Austro-Hungarian, do not assume they are one or the other.

Paul’s presentation incorporated many postcards he has obtained that pertain to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Like so much in genealogy, one would ask what is the significance of postcards and how can they help you?

Dr. Paul Valasek Working Through His PowerPoint Presentation

Paul indicated that if you have postcards in your possession from your Austro-Hungarian ancestors that there is plenty of good information on these documents to help you better understand background on your ancestor.

Paul noted that you need to check much of the following that is visible on the postcards other than the words written by your ancestor.  Things to look for are:

  • The stamp on the card
  • The postmark
  • The language
  • Official printings on the card
  • Manufacturer of the card
  • Any military “censorship” review stamping

The stamp itself may have a year on it to help you determine the time period of the card.  The postmark should also provide you with a date and a location.  The language(s) on the card may give you insight into what part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the person may have been in at the time the postcard was created.  Official languages that may appear on the card may also lead you to the geographic area of the empire.  Much of this entails you doing some basic historical research on the empire to see what countries had what official languages that were acceptable in the area at the time.

Paul also noted in his handout that the evidence of certain lists of races or

Dr. Paul Valasek Answering Questions from Audience After Formal Presentation

peoples that you may encounter on documents may lead you to see that your ancestor may have been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but neither Austrian or Hungarian.  You often see this categorization on ship’s passenger lists.  Those ethnicities noted indicate that they may have been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Some ethnicities noted are:

  • Bohemian
  • German
  • Magyar
  • Moravian
  • Polish
  • Roumanian
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Italian (North)
  • Turkish

So if you see a document that indicates an ancestor has been identified as Austro-Hungarian, you may discover that in fact they are either Austrian or Hungarian but they may more likely be an entirely different ethnic group based on the extensive amount of different ethnicities within the empire.

A couple of websites of interest for those wanting to know more about the Austro-Hungarian Empire can be found at:

http://everything2.com/title/Austria-Hungary

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austria-Hungary

Dr. Paul Valasek Stayed Late To Help Those in Attendance with Their Questions

Paul presented the  program almost until 9:30 PM, just about the time we needed to end the program.  He stuck around literally until our library closed at 10:00 PM happily answering questions from those in attendance that stayed after the formal presentation.  It was obvious that there was a definite interest from those in attendance to better understand their genealogical connection to the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

Paul is a fabulous speaker.  If you have never heard him before, it is your loss.  Catch one of his presentations if you can.  If this was your first time hearing him, you will now know why I am excited whenever we have Paul back for another program!

We thank Dr. Paul Valasek, D.D.S.  for his presentation.  What a treat!

We look forward to Paul’s return visit to our library again in the future.  I have already been told by him that he is working on some new presentation material.  We can’t wait to see Paul again.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Recent April 12, 2011 Genealogy Program with Robin B. Seidenberg on the Topic of Online Digital Newspapers

Hi Everyone!

Here is a summary of our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, April 12, 2011.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Robin B. Seidenberg.  Robin presented a program titled “Mining for Gold: Online Digital Newspapers”.

We had a great turnout for this early Spring program.  Finally, there was no snow problem for our program evening!!!  We had a great turnout of 73 participants!

Our Speaker for the Evening, Robin B. Seidenberg and her husband, Lou, Prior to the Beginning of the Program..

This was the first time that Robin had presented a program at our library to our group.  I can already say that this will not be the last time she makes a genealogy presentation at our library!!

I started the program at 7:30 PM with the introduction of new participants.  We had about 7 new participants who shared with all of us their name, their description of the their newness to genealogy and some of the surnames they were researching.  Each new participant received a Welcome package from me with some good tips on how to move forward on their research journey using a variety of resources both within and outside our library.

I indicated to the group that I would like to forego reviewing some of the handout material so that we could get to our speaker by 7:45 PM rather than 8:00 PM and allow more un-rushed time after the speaker should anyone want to talk to me or the speaker.  Because the material is all available online everyone can take a deeper look at it on their own.  I just briefly reviewed some upcoming program dates and topics for a variety of groups in the area.

Many of Our Early Program Participants Intermingling While Awaiting the Presentation from Robin B. Seidenberg.

You can easily find all of our monthly library genealogy “Newsletters” in this blog along the right sidebar.  You can also find all of our monthly library genealogy “Handouts” in this blog along the right sidebar.  Take some time to look at the current issues as well as the past ones.  These are PDF files so you can look at them from the within the blog or download them to your own computer.  All are filled with electronic bookmarks, hyperlinks, internet URL links for you to quickly find material and to link to topics of interest on the internet.  That is the beauty of these electronic files!

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have on the material contained in the Newsletter or the Handout material.

Robin then started her presentation at around 7:45 PM.

Robin did ask that any questions that may come up during the presentation be held until the end of the program.

Our Room Was Filling Up Early for the Presentation on Online Digital Newspapers.

Robin shared with us a story of an ancestor of hers that was involved in a murder.  To say the least that was an attention grabber just as Robin also explained that newspapers are first and foremost in the business of selling newspapers.  And how do they sell newspapers?  With attention grabbing choice of words as headline items and column titles of course!!

Robin spent a good amount of time sharing with the audience all of the tools and techniques she used to dig deeper and deeper into this fascinating story about her ancestor.  She showed us search techniques she used to discover newspaper article stories about this ancestor not just from local papers but from papers around the country and world that carried the story.

And why is it good to dig deeper among a variety of newspapers and not just end with a story published by one local newspaper?  Because each story may contain just that one additional nugget of information that wasn’t seen in any other story you may have discovered about your ancestor that you can now use for further research.

One of the Slides Offered by Robin B. Seidenberg on Her Topic of Online Digital Newspapers.

Robin also showed many examples of pictures that are included in these newspaper stories.  Imagine discovering a picture of an ancestor through a newspaper story when you have not discovered any other picture of that ancestor anywhere else.  The pictures do not have to originate from a murder story or any other type of “major” story!  Any story could potentially have a picture e.g. a Boy Scout troop pictures that includes your ancestor, a wedding announcement, an obituary.

Robin also made a great point on uncovering more material.  If you are having some good luck in discovering online digital newspaper material from a variety of sources then you should consider this bit of information especially for large metropolitan areas as Chicago, New York etc.  Perhaps these cities had multiple newspapers.  Perhaps you have found an online newspaper from the city.  Consider this.  The other newspapers of that city may not be online but they may very well be available as microfilms.  You know the date of material from the online newspaper.  Consider getting microfilms of the other newspapers in the same city and look around the same date in these films for stories that could also have been printed about your ancestor.  You may discover new material in these stories that were never online in digital format and were only available via microfilm!

Part of Our Large Turnout of 73 Attendees in the Far Back of the Room for Robin B. Seidenbergs Presentation.

Our library makes available for library cardholders of Schaumburg Township District Library a variety of online accessible newspapers.  You access these by entering n your library card number.  For those of you that did not have your library card issued to you by us, then simply check with your home library for access to the same digital online newspaper material.  Most of the databases are common among all public libraries.  You will see such material as:

  • NewsBank
  • ProQuest
  • Newspaper Archives
  • America’s Obituaries
  • FootNote.com

It is within these databases you will find newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times.  Access these through your local public library.

Robin also mentioned some other online resources to consider to access:

Digital online newspapers.  What a great source.  Take advantage of what our library has available to further your own research.  Take a look at other online digital newspaper that you can find on the Internet.  Some are subscribable.  Some are free.

Also remember that the scanning process involved in converting newsprint to digital images is not perfect.  You may find what appears to be many good leads on surnames you may enter only to discover that the “find” is not accurate.  As an example, I often search the surname “KIERNA” in online material.  I receive what may be great hits on new information only to discover that the print of the material actually shows the surname “KIERNAN”.  The scanning process was unable to pick up the last “N” and so the data was entered into the index as “KIERNA”.

So I actually did really find information on the surname “KIERNA” in this case as well as incorrect indexing of scanned material.  These are not that isolated.  You will find plenty of wrong hits.  Just be patient and keep looking through the material.  But just be aware the scanning process is not always 100% accurate.

Using the indexed online material sure beats just browsing through old paper editions or microfilm, hoping you might just come across something.  Sort of like playing the Lotto!!  At least you get some idea from digital searching that some good material may just be around the corner at your fingertips. 

Robin ended her presentation at around 9:00 PM and took a variety of questions and stayed around until about 9:30 PM.  

I am so glad we had Robin give us this presentation.  I look forward to working with her on inviting her back to give us another great presentation on another aspect of genealogy research.

Thank you Robin for your great presentation!

We all left a lot wiser on digital newspaper research than when we arrived.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library 


Summary of Our Most Recent Genealogy Program That Was Held on March 8, 2011 (Pictures Included)

Hi Everyone!

We had our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, March 8, 2011.  It was one of our quarterly “break out” sessions.  We did not have a speaker for the program.  Instead we had our “break out” work groups giving the opportunity for those interested in various ethnic areas of research to sit with fellow researchers and both learn new things about the topic as well as to share items of interest to help make researching the topic more productive.

Early Arrivals At the Polish Research Table

We had group tables set for:

  • Irish Researchers
  • German Researchers
  • Polish Researchers
  • Czech Researchers
  • Italian Researchers
  • Scandinavian Researchers
  • British Isles Researchers
  • Colonial American
  • General “Troubleshooting” Group
  • Beginner’s Group

We also had the laptop computer set up and connected to the projector to allow anyone to use during the session.

It Is Always Nice To See Someone Helping Someone Else on Connecting to Our WiFi Network

We had a total of 43 researchers in attendance for the program.  This was one of our larger turnouts of researchers for the quarterly breakout sessions program.

It did appear that the vast majority of attendees were situated at the Irish, Polish and German tables as well as at the Beginner’s Table that was being led by myself.  

We had 6 new people attend the program.  I asked them to introduce themselves.  Each was given a welcoming package of genealogical material to assist them in their research.

I then minimally reviewed the “handouts” package electronically from what was posted on this blog for this program, focusing just on the upcoming programs for a variety of genealogical societies in the area.  Just look at the right sidebar of this blog for an “archive” of past “Newsletters” and “Handouts”.  I want to use the handouts to keep those in attendance informed of upcoming genealogy programs, news of note in genealogy as well as some summaries of interesting magazine/journal articles that seemed to really hit home with some new research information on a particular genealogical topic.

I am leaning more to just verbally making note in the Handouts Review of just those

Boy! WE Had A Very Popular Irish Research Table At Our March 2011 Breakout Evening!!

 upcoming programs local to our area.  Because there is a great deal of detail in the handouts and they are available online for easy access, searching, saving and linking to links within the package, I wanted to forego repeating much of that and leave it to the researcher to review the material in more detail at their leisure.  This would afford me the chance to start the breakout groups closer to 7:45 PM rather than 8:00 PM.

We had a table full at the Beginner’s table having about 18 people sitting there listening to me give advice and direction on what to focus on and how to progress with research.

Early Arrivals At Our German Research Table for the March 2011 Breakout Evening Program

I especially want to say a big “thank you” to those that were still there at 9:30 PM and helped rearrange the room back to its original arrangement of the tables and chairs.  I could not do it without your help!!  Thank you, all of you!!

I also want to thank those of you that took many of the newcomers under your wings to help them with individual one on one time while I was busy assisting others.  You are so sharing!  You know who you are!  Thank you so much again for offering such personal assistance.

Based on an observation, I would certainly encourage future participants at these quarterly sessions to consider bringing in a laptop or a notebook to have to use at the table you choose to participate at.  Because of our wonderful Wi-Fi setup, you can easily tap into our Internet setup directly from your laptop or notebook and not have to worry about using our own laptop/projector set up to show someone some piece of information.  It looked like at least one person at each of the major tables had a laptop.  It looked like it worked out quite well.  Please bring your laptop or notebook to these special sessions in the future because it looks like the work at the tables can be even more productive using the laptop or notebook to tap into the Internet via our own Wi Fi setup.

Two Of Our British Isles Researchers Arriving Early for the March 2011 Breakout Program

Please remember that we have these special “break out” sessions in the months of March, June, September and December on the 2nd Tuesday evening of the month.

We certainly had a good turnout of very highly motivated researchers who were craving to learn new things and to share the things they know with others.  My hats off to all of you for such enthusiasm you brought to the program.

Thank you again to all of you that came out to participate.

We hope to see you again at our upcoming programs.

Keep coming back to this blog to stay in touch with what is going on about our genealogy programs as well as other genealogy programs in our general area.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Recent February 8, 2011 Genealogy Pogram with Steve Szabados on the Topic of Mining Census Records (Handout PDF Link Included)

Hi Everyone!

Here is a summary of our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, February 8, 2011.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Steve Szabados.  Steve presented a program titled “Mining Census Records”.

We did not get buried by any vicious storm for the evening program!  Oh No!  That snowstorm came the week before on Tuesday evening when we received about 20 inches of windy, blizzard, drifting snow!

We had a great turnout for this wintry program.  We had 70 participants who were willing to give winter a kick in the pants and come out for a great presentation!

This was the first time that Steve had presented a program at our library to our group.  I can already say that this will not be the last time he makes a genealogy presentation at our library!!

Steve Szabados Arrived Early for His Presentation and Was Reviewing His Material Prior to the Program

I started the program at 7:30 PM with the introduction of new participants.  Boy did we have a house full of new participants at this program!  We had about 10 new participants who shared with all of us their name, their description of the their newness to genealogy and some of the surnames they were researching.  Each new participant received a Welcome package from me with some good tips on how to move forward on their research journey using a variety of resources both within and outside our library.

I then reviewed our “Handout” package of electronic handouts from the library genealogy blog I author.  I brought those in audience up to speed with some other genealogy programs in our area offered by other genealogy groups and societies.  I also reviewed some other points of interest I came across on some genealogy news and topics and expressed why I thought some of the topics were of importance to help researchers.

You can easily find all of our monthly library genealogy “Newsletters” in this blog along the right sidebar.  You can also find all of our monthly library genealogy “Handouts” in this blog along the right sidebar.  Take some time to look at the current issues as well as the past ones.  These are PDF files so you can look at them from the within the blog or download them to your own computer.  All are filled with electronic bookmarks, hyperlinks, internet URL links for you to quickly find material and to link to topics of interest on the internet.  That is the beauty of these electronic files!

Steve then started his presentation at around 8:05 PM.

I am a strong believer in using Census records in your genealogy research.  They

Part of Our Large Turnout of 70 Researchers Absorbing Some Key U.S. Census Research Points from Our Speaker Steve Szabados

are the “meat and potatoes” of resources for genealogy research.  They should be a researcher’s first choice of basic research on their family.  Using census records is something you need to always keep “revisiting”.  You may have learned a little more about a particular family you are researching.  Reviewing that family in the census with your newly discovered information may shed even more about that family within the census records.

Steve had a wonderful PowerPoint presentation of the material on Census Records.  He also provided us with a great handout on this material.  Steve was also kind enough to allow me to share the handout as a PDF file link within this blog posting.  You can take a look at Steve’s handout for this presentation here at:

Steve Szabados February 8, 2011 Mining Census Records Handout

Steve gave us a great review of what the census is, how it came about and how it has evolved over the years.  From 1790 to 1840, our U.S. Census only identified the Head of Household by name.  Anyone else in the house was just statistically captured.  It wasn’t until 1850 that each member of the house was identified by name.  It took until the 1880 census when the individuals that were named were also identified as their relation to the head of household.  Now the researcher could see these relationships from 1880 onward in the census.

One of Steve Szabados' PowerPoint Slides from His Presentation On Mining Census Records to Our 70 Person Audience

More names and relationships, something all genealogists like to see as opposed to just head of household and statistics on the number of males and females within age groupings.

Steve showed us many examples of census data as they were included over time by showing us the actual images of the census data where you could find these occurrences.  It is amazing how humorous some of the examples can be of what census takers noted and wrote on the ledgers they were compiling!

All genealogy researchers should know that the U.S Federal Census for 1890 was destroyed by fire in 1921.  Therefore, in essence there is no data available from this census save for maybe thousands of records that were saved from a few isolated geographic areas.  So in essence there is no data for this census enumeration that genealogists can tap into.  This is unfortunate because it covered such a time of heavy immigration when our first ancestors to arrive in the United States may have very well been captured in this census.  Alas!  Such is genealogy luck!

Steve offered the researcher some alternatives to consider as “workaround” substitutes such as:

  • City Directories
  • Voting Lists
  • State Censuses that occurred midway between the decennial amount for the Federal Census e.g. 1885 or 1895.  State censuses were irregularly taken.  All states did not do one in 1885 or 1895.  So you have to realize you may not find this as a workable alternative to the 1890 census for the areas of your research.
  • 1890 Veterans Schedule for Union military personnel.

Steve also made us aware of the universal issue of the spelling of names that occurs in online census material.  You have to be aware that the name you know your ancestor went under may not be the name in the index associated with the online census.  Errors could have easily been made in transcribing the data from the image to the index.  Misspellings can easily occur here as well as omissions.  You need to be flexible and creative when inputting your search name in the search box.

One resource Steve mentioned was to understand the use of the Soundex to help

Steve Szabados Making a Key Point During His Presentation

as a tool when you can’t find the name as you search.  Soundex was a coding process to convert Surnames to a phonetic sounding approach.  Most online census databases can be searched by using Soundex.  Your search results may still be large but you stand a good chance of finding who you seek using this tool.  When you find someone using Soundex you will be amazed as to how their surname may have been butchered in transcription.  You may also see from the image how horribly written the name may also have been.

Steve also pointed out that when all else fails and you can’t find your ancestor in the census data online you may have to resort to a “page by page” viewing of the enumeration district that you think your ancestor may have lived within.  This is generally easier to do for large uninhabited farm areas of counties in which the number of people is smaller than for a large city.  But you still have to have some idea of geographic location in order to browse census data on a page by page search looking for the elusive ancestor.

Our Overflow Participants Sitting in the Back of the Room Taking in Steve's Presentation

Take a close look at Steve’s handout from the link earlier on in this post.  He also provides a very nice list of Internet web sites to assist you with census research in one form or another.

Steve’s presentation was a WOW!!

He is a natural speaker with a great voice and a great pace to his presentation.  He is very knowledgeable about the census and just about anything in genealogy as evidenced from some of the questions he received.  He knows how to put his material together with PowerPoint to make his point in an effective and often humorous manner!

I certainly believe most everyone left the program more knowledgeable about U.S. Census Data than when they arrived.  Steve had everyone interested and involved until not only the end of the presentation but until we had to start reminding people that the library will be closing soon and they unfortunately had to leave!!

I am going to review what other programs topics Steve can present and invite him back again for another presentation.

Thank you Steve for your fantastic presentation!

Thank you to all of you that came out to our program!

See you again next month.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Recent January 11, 2011 Genealogy Pogram with Jeffrey Bassett on the Topic of DNA and Genealogy (Handout PDF Link Included)

Hi Everyone,

Here is a summary of our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, January 11, 2011.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Jeffrey Bassett.  Jeffrey presented a program titled “DNA and Genealogy: A Revisit”.

Jeffrey had previously provided an overview of using DNA in your genealogy research in January 2007.  So much has advanced in this research technique since Jeffrey was last here that I thought it would be a good topic to revisit and see what is new in this area for genealogy researchers.

I do apologize early on in this post and let the readers know that I had unfortunately forgotten to bring my digital camera to this program.  Consequently, I do not have any pictures of the speaker or of the participants as I often do include in a summary of the program.  Sorry about that.  I will put the camera by my door on the way out for our next speaker oriented program we will have in February 2011!

Once again, old man winter decided to target our program night for a small snowstorm!  It wasn’t a catastrophic storm but I feel like each winter month this program seems to have snowstorm in the mix for the very evening of the program.  Not the day before or the day after but the very evening!!

Nonetheless, we still had a very good turnout for our program which we started at 7:30 PM.  We had 52 people in attendance.  All were hearty souls that would not be stopped from learning some new genealogy research techniques via DNA analysis.  Our speaker was also able to make the program without any difficulties even though he faced more snow closer to the lake from where he was coming.  His driving conditions actually improved as he headed west away from Lake Michigan.

We had 4 new participants in attendance for the evening.  I had them introduce themselves and provided them with a genealogy introduction handout package for them to use as they embark upon their research.

I then spent some time reviewing our “electronic” handout package that I post within the blog on the right sidebar under the category “Program Handouts”.

I like to include handouts of upcoming genealogy programs that our local to our area so researchers can attend these programs for the topics they have.  I also include our own library’s next upcoming program so attendees can mark their calendars to visit us again at our library.

I also like to make note of some interesting topics I was able to discover from Dick Eastman’s Online Newsletter as well as make note of some key articles I may have discovered that were contained in our library’s recently received genealogical journals.

I encourage those that attended to revisit the PDF file of this information and spend some more quality time reviewing the thoughts I put to paper that caught my eye as being more significant than other things I may have seen.  These notes have bookmarks within the document to make for easy navigation as well as having embedded links that you can visit directly from with the Handout.

Our speaker started his presentation at approximately 8:05 PM.  Jeffrey brought a nice PowerPoint presentation of his material from which I was able to make paper copies for those in attendance to follow.

Jeffrey was kind enough to allow me to post his PowerPoint presentation within this blog post for all attendees and readers of my blog to revisit and look at.  You can see this handout material at:

Jeffrey Basset January 11, 2011 DNA and Genealogy Handout

Thank you Jeffrey for allowing me to post this.

Jeffrey also let us know that the DNA Service Provider he has used over his long time working with DNA is Family Tree DNA.  You can visit this company’s website at:

www.familytreedna.com

Some of the key points made by Jeffrey from throughout his presentation were:

  • Many years ago when DNA testing started to be made available to genealogy researchers, the standard was a 12 marker test.  Today, the standard is more like a 37 marker test.
  • A 67 marker test is also available but Jeffrey believes that is not necessary to obtain great results at less cost with the 37 marker test.
  • The price of DNA testing has dropped significantly over the years.  Today, Jeffrey spends about $149 for a 37 marker test.  Four years ago, that same test cost him $179.
  • If you are looking for an even bigger discount on DNA pricing, check with Ancestry.com in the months before the Christmas Holidays.  They often have some great “sale” prices at that time because these DNA tests are frequently given as presents at that time of the year.
  • The Y chromosome test is used when researching male lines.
  • Mitochondrial DNA is used when researching female lines.
  • Jeffrey indicated there is more willingness today for researchers to participate in DNA research compared to 4 years ago.  The uneasiness of 4 years ago has been replaced with lower costs, confidence in the DNA companies and their results and a sense of privacy that is present from a good track record of those companies providing this service.
  • Jeffrey noted that over time all DNA will mutate.  The higher level of a DNA marker test you use will show this over time with your results more so than will a 12 marker or 25 marker test.  Mutations can explain why a DNA result does not have expected exact matches.  These are still people in your family tree but you have to be aware of mutations that affect the outcome of your marker matches.
  • Haplogroup results of your DNA give you some idea of where in the world your original ancestral connections might be from.  African connections go back the furthest in time (120,000 to 150,000 years ago).  Asian connections go back 40,000 to 70,000 years ago.  European connections go back 35,000 to 50,000 years ago.
  • Jeffrey provided his own web site to visit that deals with his efforts to connect the BASSETT family line through his use of DNA testing.  You may visit the site at www.bassettbranches.org.

All in all DNA and Genealogy is here to say.  We are well past the infancy of this process from just 5 or more years ago.  Jeffrey is by far the most knowledgeable person I have met on the subject of DNA and genealogy.  His presentation really showcases his deep knowledge of the subject and how he has used it to explore and confirm many of his genealogical connections.

We thank Jeffrey Basset for his return visit to our library to share information on this expanding topic of genealogical research.

Jeffrey’s contact information is contained within his handout as well as from the website I mentioned above.

DNA and Genealogy.  Investigate it.  Consider it.  Get “swabbing”!!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Most Recent Genealogy Program That Was Held on December 14, 2010

Hi Everyone!

We had our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, December 14, 2010.  It was one of our quarterly “break out” sessions.  We did not have a speaker for the program.  Instead we had our “break out” work groups giving the opportunity for those interested in various ethnic areas of research to sit with fellow researchers and both learn new things about the topic as well as to share items of interest to help make researching the topic more productive.

We had group tables set for:

  • Irish Researchers
  • German Researchers
  • Polish Researchers
  • Czech Researchers
  • Italian Researchers
  • Scandinavian Researchers
  • British Isles Researchers
  • Colonial American
  • General “Troubleshooting” Group
  • Beginner’s Group

We also had the laptop computer set up and connected to the projector to allow anyone to use during the session.

We had a total of 20 researchers in attendance for the program.  This is small in scope due to the holiday activities occurring in December as well as the cold, wintry weather we had that night.

It did appear that the vast majority of attendees were situated at the Irish and Polish tables as well as at the Beginner’s Table that was being led by myself.  Our German table is normally full but we only one person trying to be at the table this night!!  There were just not enough attendees to fill any other of the ethnic tables for this evening. 

We had 4 new people attend the program.  I asked them to introduce themselves.  Each was given a welcoming package of genealogical material to assist them in their research.

I then reviewed the “handouts” package electronically from what was posted on this blog for this program.  Just look at the right sidebar of this blog for an “archive” of past “Newsletters” and “Handouts”.  I want to use the handouts to keep those in attendance informed of upcoming genealogy programs, news of note in genealogy as well as some summaries of interesting magazine/journal articles that seemed to really hit home with some new research information on a particular genealogical topic.

We had a table full at the Beginner’s table having about 10 people sitting there listening to me give advice and direction on what to focus on and how to progress with research.

I especially want to say a big “thank you” to those that were still there at 9:30 PM and helped rearrange the room back to its original arrangement of the tables and chairs.  I could not do it without your help!!  Thank you, all of you!!

I also want to thank those of you that took many of the newcomers under your wings to help them with individual one on one time while I was busy assisting others.  You are so sharing!  You know who you are!  Thank you so much again for offering such personal assistance.

Based on an observation, I would certainly encourage future participants at these quarterly sessions to consider bringing in a laptop or a notebook to have to use at the table you choose to participate at.  Because of our wonderful Wi-Fi setup, you can easily tap into our Internet setup directly from your laptop or notebook and not have to worry about using our own laptop/projector set up to show someone some piece of information.  It looked like at least one person at each of the major tables had a laptop.  It looked like it worked out quite well.  Please bring your laptop or notebook to these special sessions in the future because it looks like the work at the tables can be even more productive using the laptop or notebook to tap into the Internet via our own Wi Fi setup.

Please remember that we have these special “break out” sessions in the months of March, June, September and December on the 2nd Tuesday evening of the month.

We certainly had a light turnout of very highly motivated researchers who were craving to learn new things and to share the things they knew about with others during this Holiday Month session.  My hats off to all of you for such enthusiasm you brought to the program on this cold, wintry night.

Thank you again to all of you that came out to participate.

We hope to see you again at our upcoming programs.

Keep coming back to this blog to stay in touch with what is going on about our genealogy programs as well as other genealogy programs in our general area.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Recent November 9, 2010 Genealogy Program with Patricia Reaves on the Topic of Bremen and Hamburg Passenger Lists

Hi Everyone,

Here is a summary of our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, November 9, 2010.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Patricia Reaves.  She presented a program titled “How to Read and Understand the Hamburg and Bremen Passenger Lists”.

One Of Our Early Arrivals Awaiting Patricia Reaves' Featured Presentation

For this evening’s program we had a total of 60 participants in attendance for the program.  We had 4 new participants in attendance.

I spent the first half hour of the program having the new participants introduce themselves to all of us as well as reviewing the handouts package via the blog upload.  The review included a number of upcoming programs for other societies and some tips I shared on the new FamilySearch Beta, the new genealogy site from the Allen County Public Library at www.genealogycenter.org, and a review of a couple of articles from some genealogy journals on understanding passenger lists and how to connect to living kin.

Program Participants Reviewing Patricia Reaves' Handout for the Evening Program Prior to the Start of the Program

All of the details for what I reviewed can be found in the November 2010 Handouts package within this blog in the “Handouts” section of this blog along the right sidebar.  Just click on the link for the handouts package and you will be taken to a PDF file of the Handout package.

Patricia started her presentation at around 8:10 PM by giving all of us an in-depth view of historical aspects of Germany and how all of that ultimately ties into better understanding material you may find on any of the actual Hamburg or Bremen passenger lists you may encounter in your own research.

Patricia’s handout of her program included the following:

  • A couple of historical maps of Germany, one of which identified and showed the German Empire that was in existence between 1871-1918.
  • A small list of some of the key “Passenger List” websites that are available on the internet.
  • A small list of some of the “Cemetery” websites that are available on the internet.
  • A listing of some German to English phrases you may encounter that refer to reference material.
  • A one page “Old German Type and Handwriting Guide” that can assist you when you are researching German Type and German Script handwriting and print within these documents.
  • A list of some common German phrases you may encounter with their equivalent English translation that you may encounter within Birth, Baptism, Marriage and Death records.
  • A one page guide to help you with German names that would show misspellings, variations, translations and the variety of spellings that could occur.

Some of the internet web sites Patricia shared with us via her handout for Passenger Records were:

Some of the Internet Web sites Patricia shared with us via her handouts regarding “Cemeteries Online” were:

Patricia indicated that a good amount of the Bremen records were destroyed during world War II when Bremen was bombed.  There are scatterings of some of the records, but paltry in scope in comparison to the number of emigrants that left Germany via that port.  If an ancestor left through Bremen, it is likely their arrival into the United States was through the port of Baltimore because that is the arrangement that was made for the transatlantic passage.

Large Posterboard of Germanic Passenger Information Brought by Patricia Reaves to Show As A Resource to the Audience

Patricia mentioned that the vast amount of Hamburg passenger records are available from Ancestry.com but they are in German.  Arrivals into the United States via a Hamburg departure often arrived into the port of New York.

Patricia also mentioned that if you believe you have discovered the village or town of your ancestor, that you should simply type in the town name as an Internet address to see if the town has a presence on the Internet.  This can be more productive if you append the basic address with the country code that is also part of an Internet when it applies to outside the United States.  As an example, if it were an ancestral town in Germany, you would use www.townname.de.  You fill in the “townname” part of the address with your townname of interest.  If it were a town in Poland, end with PL.

You can find a list of “Country Codes” to use at:

www.theodora.com/country_digraphs.html

You may actually find an ancestral town via this method.  You may also discover an incredible amount of historical information that someone may have uploaded to the site that can help you with your own research.  You never know what you may find, or not find, unless you give this method of searching a try!!  You could also run into the site and material being presented in the native language and not available easily in English.

Our Audience Is Focused on Material Being Presented by Patricia Reaves

One other major web site Patricia shared with us can be found at www.passagierlisten.de.  It will load up as “German” language but you can easily find the British or USA flag icon on the screen and click it to get an English version of the site.  This site has been created by the Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremerhaven.  It has an incredible amount of data grouped in the following categories that applies to passengers from Bremen:

  • Family Names
  • Shipnames
  • Days of Departures
  • Destination Harbors
  • Home Towns
  • Group Photos
  • Original Soruces
  • Data Recording
  • Ship Pictures

Spend some time visiting the site if you have any possible connection to an ancestor that may have left Europe through the port of Bremen.  Unfortunately, remember, the vast majority of Bremen records were destroyed so you may only find spotty information at this site.  But it is worth a try to look and learn from this site about Bremen as a port of departure even if you do not find the names you might be looking for.

Patricia was still presenting to the last moments when we had to stop.  She stayed around for Q&A and to listen to and hear individual questions from those that stayed to the very end.

Patricia Reaves Emphasizing A Point from Her Presentation

Patricia is a wealth of knowledge on Germanic research.  Her excitement and love for this research was evident throughout this evening’s presentation.

I did make some additional copies of Patricia’s handout package.  Extra copies can be gotten in our library on the 2nd floor of our library at the Information Desk.  They are contained in a file drawer under the category of “Genealogy Handouts” that our staff can access and provide an extra copy to you in the library.

Spend some time looking at the links Patricia provided via the handouts and within her program that I noted above.

I want to thank Patricia for the excitement she brought to her presentation and for the depth of information she shared with us on this topic and on Germanic research in general.

We hope to have Patricia back at our library in the future with another wonderful presentation.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library