Category Archives: Tips

Hit A Brick Wall In Your Research? Maybe You Are Researching The Wrong Material; Learn Your Lineage Through Your Feet!

Hi Everyone!

Smiley FaceOne of my colleagues here at the library shared an interesting tip on genealogy research that is certainly different from the usual resources genealogists “tap” into.

Perhaps you just need to look at your own feet and all of your genealogical mysteries will be solved!

That’s right.  You can learn a lot about your ancestral connections by looking at your own feet!

A June 17, 2013 blog post by Sarah Heiner provides insights about this interesting way to make determinations of ancestral connections by simply looking at the shape of your feet and how your toes align themselves in comparison to each other!

There are some other links in her blog post that will lead you to other insights about how to read your feet and toes!

Here is a link to the post:

June 17, 2013 Blog Post by Sarah Heiner Noting How Your Feet Can Give You Ancestral Insights

Do I know this is scientific?  Nope

Do I know this looks like a little bit of fun?  Yep

Take it for what it is worth.  Read through the 26 comments.

When things are not going so good in our research, a little bit of humor can sure change our attitude!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

I Created A Screencast Teaching Video On How To Use “America’s Obituaries and Death Notices” Database Available At The Schaumburg Township District Library; Video Is Available On Our Library’s YouTube Channel; View The Video Screencast Right In This Blog Post

Hi Everyone!

STDL ImageI just wanted to let you know that I have created my first screencast training video that is available at our library’s YouTube Channel.  Anyone can access this screencast at YouTube.

The screencast video provides an overview on how to use one of the more popular genealogy resource tools.  It is an electronic database titled “America’s Obituaries and Death Notices”.  The database is available within our library as well as available at home to Schaumburg Township District Library cardholders.

For those readers that are not our library’s cardholders, you can always use the database in our library.  You are always welcome at our library!

For non-STDL cardholders, check with your local public library that issued you your library card.  It is very likely they have this electronic database in their collection for you to access at home.  It is readily available through many public libraries.  Just check with them for details on what it takes for you to access it.  It should be as simple as having a current valid library card from them, accessing their website, finding the database online and then entering in your library card number and PIN number.

The screencast runs about 28 minutes.  In it,  I take the researcher through the YouTube Logosteps to help them input search terms among the various fields that can be used to get the best results.  The researcher should also be aware and see how I use wildcard searching and other capabilities of using the database.

I also make them aware of all that the database has to offer, including the very important “Help” section and “Tutorial” section that far too many researchers do not seem to explore.

You can view this tutorial right here:

Please feel free to add any comments to the YouTube video.  Comments are the vehicle by which I will know how “good”, “bad” or “indifferent” my first attempt at screencasting was.  Comments will also help me make better screencasts on genealogical topics that will help you in your research.

Thanks for viewing.

I hope to create more screencasts to help you  in your genealogy research in the future.

Take a try at using “America’s Obituaries and Death Notices” electronic database through our library.  I feel confident you will now know more about the database and how to better use it to produce better results for yourself with your  genealogy searches.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

Always Call Ahead To Facility You Are Going To Visit To Do Onsite Research; Make Sure All Equipment You Will Need Is Functioning

Hi Everyone!

STDL ImageIt is great when you get the opportunity to go out and do some genealogy research at an off-site facility.  Let’s say you wanted to make a visit to look at some microfilms that a facility has.

This facility could be a library, a Family History Center (FHC), an archive

All you have to do is get in your car, make that drive that takes you 45 minutes, do your research, make some discoveries and finally, make copies of your discoveries on the microfilm reader-printer.  Sounds simple.  What could go wrong, especially with microfilm reader-printers?

Plenty!

Why do I even bring this up.  Because internally at our library I just received notice that our only available microfilm reader-printer is out of toner to allow printing.  It was also indicated that we will not be able to get a replacement toner cartridge for about a week!  So our reader-printer can be used but it won’t be able to make print copies of what you are viewing on the film.  The old reader-printer does not have any flashdrive capability so you do not have the ability to make a digital image of the screen.

Bummer!

There is a simple lesson to be learned here, especially when you know you are going to be using a facility’s microfilm reader-printer.  Call before you embark on your journey and ask if the reader-printer you plan on using will be fully useable, especially if you will want to make print copies. 

If they have multiple reader-printers you may still be in luck to use those that are fully functional.  But even that could be frustrating because now the functioning devices will be in greater use even more.  So you will have other researcher competition for the lesser amounts of functioning devices.

You could even consider to bring in your digital camera to take pictures of the microfilm images.  You have to ask if using a camera at the microfilm reader-printer is acceptable within the policies of the facility.  At least that might be a possible workaround when equipment is not working fully.

Save yourself the frustration of arriving only to then be told the microfilm reader is broke either for actually viewing (think burned out bulb that is not readily replaceable) or as in our case, we are out of toner and you will not be able to make paper copies.

Always ask more than is the facility open, what are its hours, what is the location etc.  Be sure the equipment you want to use, ESPECIALLY MICROFILM READER-PRINTERS, are FULLY functional!

Make that call before you get in your car.

Save yourself the frustration that will result when you arrive and make your unhappy discovery about equipment failure that is going to curtail your much planned research outing.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

2 Great LDS Open Indexing Projects For Your Consideration; U.S., Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1910; U.S., Illinois, Cook County, Deaths, 1959-1994

Hi Everyone!

FamilySearch.org LogoBarb P., our recent February 2014 Genealogy Program speaker, made me aware of an ongoing LDS Indexing Project that hits right here at home.  She mentioned to me that indexers can select death records from Cook County, Illinois for indexing.  The death records cover the recent time period from 1959 to 1994.

When I looked at the information regarding the project, the statistics seem to indicate that 20% of the data has been indexed and of that amount, 12% has been arbitrated.

There is nothing quite like helping yourself out in your own research when you can roll up your sleeves and start indexing records that may very well be pertinent to your very own research.

Here is a link from the FamilySearch website that will get you to the list of these open indexing projects.

FamilySearch Open Indexing Projects As Of March 18, 2014

The above link will give you a long list of worldwide open projects.  Just Cook County Death Certificate for Indexingscroll down looking for “U.S”.  Within the U.S. projects you will find the one for Cook County, Illinois, Death Certificates 1959-1994.  Or select the letter “U” from the list of projects.  This will at least get you closer to discovering the projects for the “U.S” rather than scrolling through the entirety of the list of projects.

Here you will find all of the details about the project including resources to use to help you know how to index the visual data you will be looking at for the project.

Chicago Catholic Church Record ImageTo my surprise, right before the Cook County Death Certificates Project, you will see an open project for the U.S., Illinois, Chicago – Catholic Church Records, 1833-1910.  WOW!  Personally, that is a source of great information for me.  The images are available to browse through on FamilySearch for these records, but I did not know there was an open indexing project for these records.  In fact, the statistics show that the project is currently 40% Indexed and 40% Arbitrated.

Once again, if you want to help yourself in your own research for Chicago ancestors, these are certainly two great databases that are just calling for you to give a hand to help index!

I guess I am going to have to shake the dust off my indexing program on my laptop that has been dormant for far too long!  In fact, I just downloaded the most recent Indexing program from FamilySearch so that I have the latest.  It took all of about 2 minutes to download and get onto my desktop.

Thanks Barb P. for telling me about the Cook County, Illinois Death Certificates Indexing Project.  And I guess it was just meant to be that by my looking at the details about that project I discovered the Chicago Catholic Church Records project right next to it.

So I guess today is a good day for discovery and sharing with all of you, active indexers and dormant indexers and non-indexers.  If you have been looking to pick a new project then select either of these two.  If you have been dormant, consider coming alive again and start indexing again.  If you have never indexed, the Death Certificates might be a great initial project to get your indexing “feet” wet!

I did see that the Chicago Catholic Church Records Project was rated by the LDS as “Advanced” while the Cook County Death Certificates Project was rated as “Intermediate”.

For non-indexers, if you have never registered with FamilySearch you will need to do that before indexing because you will need to sign in with your username and password to gain access to the data for indexing.  If you have been registered with FamilySearch but never indexed then you are just ready to click on the icon for “indexing”, download the software and enter in your username and password to get you started down the indexing path.

Take the “initial” plunge if you have not indexed; do a “re-plunge” if you have been dormant.  These records are calling for you!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Update On “Calendar Of Local Genealogy Events” As Part Of This Blog

Hi Everyone!

Google LogoHopefully, many of you are utilizing the recently added Google Calendar I incorporated into the blog that you can access from the top of the homepage identified as “Calendar of Local Genealogy Events”.

Here is also a direct link to the “Calendar of Local Genealogy Events At Tony’s Genealogy Blog”.

You may remember that I activated the calendar in February 2014 with an initial amount of upcoming programs from a small group of libraries, genealogical societies and genealogy groups.  I wanted to see how the “experiment” was going.

So far, I guess I would be calling it a “smashing” success!

So much of a success that I have been busy adding more and more genealogy societies, genealogy groups and library genealogy programs to the calendar.

Here is my initial list of genealogy program providers that I started with:

  • Arlington Heights Memorial Library
  • Casa Italia Chicago Genealogy
  • Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI)
  • Elgin Genealogical Society
  • Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling, IL.
  • Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists (NWSCG)
  • Schaumburg Township District Library

We started with 7.

Now I have 17 organizations for whom I include upcoming genealogy programs in my calendar on this blog.  I guess word of mouth really spreads fast!  I was receiving many additional requests to include genealogy programs for other libraries and other groups and societies.

Here is my current list of participants for whom I am sharing information on genealogy programs:

  • Arlington Heights Memorial Library
  • Casa Italia
  • Chicago Genealogical Society
  • Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI)
  • Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois (CSAGSI)
  • DuPage County Genealogical Society (DCGS)
  • Elgin Genealogical Society (EGS)
  • Fountaindale Public Library
  • Fox Valley Genealogical Society(FVGS)
  • Indian Trails Public Library District
  • Kane County Genealogical Society
  • McHenry County Genealogical Society
  • Mount Prospect Public Library
  • North Suburban Genealogical Society
  • Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists (NWSCG)
  • Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA)
  • Schaumburg Township District Library

This is who is included today.  Tomorrow, maybe even more??

All of the entries above include website links and even phone numbers when applicable.  All you have to do is click on the “more details” at the bottom of the event once you have opened it up.  You can also always look at the “Map” function to know where you can connect to the group if you are not familiar with the location.

I am glad that I have heard so many good comments about what the calendar offers to genealogists over and above our own monthly genealogy program.  A researcher can connect to many groups and participate in genealogy programs just about every day of the week to advance their skills!

Thank you for your interest in the calendar.  There are even more entries to look through now than there was just about 6 weeks ago.

Enjoy the calendar as it continues to grow and grow!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com March 2014″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a March 2014 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com March 2014″.

The video is an approximate 15 minute production hosted by Crista Cowan of Ancestry.com who provides the viewers with updates on what new things users of Ancestry.com should be aware of.  This is a short presentation because Crista has been “on the road” for a good amount of time.  Normally her presentations are in the 25 minute range.

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • Upcoming Conferences – National Genealogical Society in Richmond, VA (May 7-10, 2014), Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, CA (Jun 6-8, 2014)
  • New Content! – 3 Million new records added for 4 countries in the Ancestry databases.
  • New Content! – Belgium, Antwerp Police Immigration Index, 1840-1930
  • New Content! – Munich, Germany, Nazi Documentation Regarding Jews, 1919 – 1946.  Data is in German.  Images linked to indexed results can only be obtained with a direct request to the Holocaust Museum.  No charge to obtain the images.
  • New Content! – Iowa Marriage Records, 1923 – 1937; Images available
  • New Content! – California Marriage Records for Select Counties, 1850 – 1941; Images available

You can view this video directly here:

Crista does an excellent job of sharing what is new at Ancestry.com that can make your use of the product even more effective and beneficial with your family history research.  She shows you via her computer screen what to look for at the Ancestry.com site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At Ancestry.com” videos on YouTube going back at least until April of 2012.  These series of videos are a great tool to use to review going back in time so you keep current with all that is being offered and added to Ancestry.com.

Here is a simple link to my search in YouTube that will give you this nice list of these videos posted to YouTube that you can do some catching up on to know about all of the new things at Ancestry.com:

“What’s New At Ancestry.com” YouTube Videos

The host does a very good job verbally describing the new additions as well as showing you the new things at Ancestry via screencasting.  That allows you to see her computer screen as she points out the various “new” things you may see at Ancestry.com and where they are located.

Because so many of us use Ancestry.com, either via a personal subscription or by using the Ancestry product at our local libraries, these YouTube videos are quite informative to keep users up to date with new features that take root on Ancestry.com.  The host provides even more depth to the importance of the change and even why it was done.

I think you will enjoy the most recent video above as well as looking at the link above for even more of these videos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Very Funny Genealogy Video On YouTube; Very Creative And Technology Savvy Family Creation Effort; Put A Smile On Your Face!

Hi Everyone,

YouTube LogoBruce C. , a frequent participant at our genealogy programs, shared a link to an incredibly funny and innovative “genealogy” oriented video on YouTube.

Thank you Bruce!!

It is about 5 minutes of a family using the rock hit ” Bohemia Rhapsody” as background to create an impressive YouTube genealogy hit video.

I really think you are going to like it a lot!

Hit a brick wall?  Just tired of genealogy for the moment!  Fed up with this lousy Chicago winter weather?  Pick your own reason to give yourself 5 minutes where you can put on a smile and say to yourself “How in the world were they able to do all that they did in this video?”

Here is the YouTube video you can view right here:

Wasn’t it great!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Videos From Recent RootsTech 2014 Conference Are Now Available Online; Link Included In This Post For Both 2013 and 2014 RootsTech Videos

Hi Everyone!

RootsTech 2014 LogoYou know I am a big believer in online training sessions to further educate yourself as a genealogy researcher.

I am happy to announce that online video sessions from the recently held 2014 RootsTech conference that was held in Salt Lake City, Utah are now available from the RootsTech web site.  There are 18 videos available in total for you to view.

If you cannot attend these large-scale conferences, then it is a great pleasure to be able to see online a smattering of the programs that were held.  By no means is what is made available online representative of the total amount of overall programs presented over three days, but it is sure great to see a good amount of the material.

You will find the following topics and the named presenter from the online videos from the recently held 2014 conference from RootsTech below:

  • “Opening Keynote Speech” by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman
  • “Top 10 Things I Learned About My Family From My Couch” by Tammy Hepps
  • “Do It Yourself Photo Restoration” by Ancestry Insider
  • “FamilySearch Family Tree; What’s New and What’s Next” by Ron Tanner
  • “Intro To DNA for Genealogists” by James Rader
  • “Genealogy in the Cloud” by Randy Hoffman
  • “Sharing Your Family History with Multimedia” by Michael LeClerc
  • “Friday Keynote Speech” by Dr. Spencer Wells and Judy Russell
  • “Storytelling Super Powers: How To Come Off As Your Family’s Genealogy Hero” by David Adelman
  • “Tweets, Links, Pins and Posts: Breakdown Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media” by Lisa Alzo
  • “5 Ways To Do Genealogy in Your Sleep” by Deborah Gamble
  • “Finding Family and Ancestors Outside the USA with New Technologies” by Daniel Horowitz
  • “Getting the Most Out of Ancestry” by Crista Cowan
  • “How To Interview Yourself for a Personal History” by Tom Taylor
  • Saturday Keynote Speech” by Stephanie Nielson and Todd Hanson
  • “Become An iPad Power User” by Lisa Louise Cook
  • “Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results” by Josh Taylor
  • “A Beginner’s Guide To Going Paperless” by Randy Whited

You can see  the programs themselves directly at the RootsTech website at:

2014 RootsTech Annual Conference Online Videos

Spend some time and really enjoy these and come away even more motivated.  Most videos are generally at least 1 hour in length.  Some Keynote videos are from about 70 minutes to 90 minutes.  Some of the presenter programs are about 40 minutes.

Sometimes it is good to take a step back and take a look at the “big picture” in the world of genealogy.  The above programs seem to do that very thing, especially when you view the “keynote” speeches.  It is important to know what is ahead for us down our genealogical research paths.  What are the “new” things that will make our research faster, easier, intuitive, collaborative, more accurate, and with fewer errors.

I always get a good feeling about the RootsTech Annual Conference.  I have not attended any of the previously held conferences, but I still feel very connected through their site and these fabulous videos that are educational and inspirational!

I am very happy to say the new set of videos are at your fingertips via the RootsTech website indicated at the above link.

Don’t forget that you can also still go back via the RootsTech website to videos from the 2013 RootsTech Annual Conference.  The message in those videos is still as meaningful today as it was then.

You can get to these videos here:

2013 RootsTech Annual Conference Videos

So if you want to have an approximate 36 hour “marathon” weekend viewing RootsTech videos, you can easily do so through the above links.  Sounds like a good thing to do as winter begins to give up its cold and snowy grip!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com February 2014″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a February 2014 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com February 2014″.

The video is an approximate 23 minute production hosted by Crista Cowan of Ancestry.com who provides the viewers with updates on what new things users of Ancestry.com should be aware of.

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • Upcoming genealogy conferences for RootsTech (Completed), “Who Do You Think You Are?” in London, England (Feb 20-22, 2014) , National Genealogical Society in Richmond, VA (May 7-10, 2014), Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, CA (Jun 6-8, 2014) and Ancestry Day in Philadelphia, PA on March 15, 2014
  • New Content! – 900 Million new records added for 27 new countries in the Ancestry databases (that is correct… 900 million records!).  For those personally subscribed to Ancestry.com, visit their website and look in the upper right side of the home page for a new link that says “New Global Records”.  (My comment – Sometimes I have seen the link clearly for “New Global Records” at the Ancestry.com site, sometimes I have not seen it.  I do not know why it is inconsistent in appearance?  I notice it also appears under the drop-down menu for “More” from the Ancestry.com home page.  Video noted it may “disappear” and is only there for a short time.)   (I need to see how this works or does not work for the equivalent Ancestry Library Edition product?).  (My comment, not Ancestry’s – Ancestry is looking more like FamilySearch with their World Map view for selecting records.  You will see this when you click on the link for “New Global Records”; in fact, I believe some of the new data here is the same exact data from FamilySearch; this may be evidence of the closer relationship FamilySearch is having with Ancestry.com in sharing data between the two.)
  • Ancestry.com is also developing new “Landing” pages concept that are “portals” to specific kinds of content e.g. as an example if you type in ancestry.com/immigration you will be taken to one of these “landing” places, or ancestry.com/military or ancestry.com/jewish or ancestry.com/africanamerican or ancwestry.com/newengland.  If you already know what kind of search you may want to make based on record type, these “landing” pages can get you there and focus your search on all that is categorized as that type of record. (My comment – the video was not exactly clear if the “landing pages” mentioned in the video are the only ones.   I also do not know where they are “listed” in ancestry.com for them to be discovered.)

You can view this video directly here:

Crista does an excellent job of sharing what is new at Ancestry.com that can make your use of the product even more effective and beneficial with your family history research.  She shows you via her computer screen what to look for at the Ancestry.com site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At Ancestry.com” videos on YouTube going back at least until April of 2012.  These series of videos are a great tool to use to review going back in time so you keep current with all that is being offered and added to Ancestry.com.

Here is a simple link to my search in YouTube that will give you this nice list of these videos posted to YouTube that you can do some catching up on to know about all of the new things at Ancestry.com:

“What’s New At Ancestry.com” YouTube Videos

The host does a very good job verbally describing the new additions as well as showing you the new things at Ancestry via screencasting.  That allows you to see her computer screen as she points out the various “new” things you may see at Ancestry.com and where they are located.

Because so many of us use Ancestry.com, either via a personal subscription or by using the Ancestry product at our local libraries, these YouTube videos are quite informative to keep users up to date with new features that take root on Ancestry.com.  The host provides even more depth to the importance of the change and even why it was done.

I think you will enjoy the most recent video above as well as looking at the link above for even more of these videos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Where Are The World War II Military Records You Need To Research Your WW II Military Ancestors?; Jennifer Holik Has Blogged Extensively About How To Successfully Uncover These Important Records Of Your Ancestors

Hi Everyone!

WWII LogoMilitary records research is often a major effort when we are doing our ancestral genealogy research.  Our ancestors often served in the military during the time of their lives.  But we often think in terms of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican American War, Civil War etc.

But what if you are doing genealogical research on your somewhat more contemporary ancestors that may have served in the military during World War II?  World War II does not seem that far back in time for many of us that are in our 60s but it actually started in 1941 from a United States involvement perspective which means it goes back 74 years ago.

These records are available but maybe the methodology to uncover them is something we have not yet done as we construct our family trees inclusive of World War II vets.

Jennifer Holik is a genealogy program speaker, researcher and author, that we have had at our library, as well as the owner of Generations.  She presented a program that showed us the ways by which we could get our younger children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc. interested in picking up the genealogy torch with us.

Jennifer also has a skill in uncovering the connections of our ancestors to their military history.  She has even written some books about the subject as it related to her own genealogical investigations.

Jennifer will be a future speaker at our library again in May 2015 and November 2015.  She will be sharing with us her knowledge about how to go about doing your military research, especially about your World War II vet/ancestor.

I did notice that she has made some recent blog posts providing some very detailed insights into how to go about researching your World War II ancestor’s military records.  Her blog posts were outstanding on providing background and details that genealogy researchers can learn to make their World  War II records research more productive and less frustrating.

GenerationsBiz LogoHere are the links to her recent blog posts that I know you will find full of detailed information to help you uncover those World War II military records you may not even be aware of that can help you paint a more full picture of an ancestor.

January 27, 2014 Jennifer Holik “Where ARE the WW II Military Records?” Blog Post

February 3, 2014 Jennifer Holik “WW II Military Research Is NOT the Same As Genealogy Research” Blog Post

You can connect to the entire blog that Jennifer is authoring at:

Generations Blog Authored By Jennifer Holik

Bloggers often focus on certain themes to create blog posts on certain days of the week.  One of the themes in the blogger world is “Military Monday”.  This is the day that Jennifer has been making her blog posts related to military records research related to genealogy.  She has really been following this theme and has been prolific in her blog posts on World War II military research on “Military Monday”.

If you are focusing part of your current genealogy research on uncovering military records for your ancestors, especially those in connection to World War II, then I highly recommend following Jennifer’s blog posts as she shares information about how to do that kind of research.

You will have to wait a little bit to see Jennifer make her World War II military presentations at our library.  But until she gets here in 2015 you can still add to your research knowledge on World War II records by following Jennifer’s blog posts as they occur on “Military Monday”.

Thanks Jennifer for making these very helpful posts!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library