Category Archives: Tips

“What’s New At Ancestry.com December 2013″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a December 2013 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com December 2013″.

The video is an approximate 30 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 and NGS
  • Branch Out contest every other month – you could win 20 hours of professional research and a 1 year subscription to the World Explorer from Ancestry.com.  You could also win a DNA submission kit.  Provide a Family History story of 500 words or less to Ancestry.com.  Ancestry.com will pick winner from submissions.  You need to re-enter a story for each upcoming contest.  One submitted story is not carried over into each contest.
  • Watch for upcoming Texas Resource Guide in PDF format from Ancestry.com.
  • New Content! – North Carolina Native American Census 1894-1913
  • New Content! – Associated Press Records (Searching them is a little tricky!).  These are abstracts of articles.
  • New Content! – England and Wales Quaker Birth, Marriage, Death Records for 1578 to 1837 (Quaker Records used “old” calendar method.
  • New Content! – Texas Birth Certificates 1903-1932 – 2.2 million records.
  • New Content! – Texas Death Certificates 1903-1982 – 6 million records.  Actual death certificate image included.

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 Nice 4 Page PDF Guide From Ancestry.com To Help You Uncover Your Connections To Revolutionary War Ancestors

Hi Everyone,

ancestry-logoOne of my colleagues came across a very nice concise handy guide from Ancestry.com that provides you with the research guidance to help you uncover any connection you may have to Revolutionary War ancestors.

It is a simple but effective 4 page PDF that will take you through the sequential steps to take to make your Revolutionary War connections if you happen to have any.

Here is a link to the helpful document.

Your Family Tree in the American Revolution – Guide from Ancestry.com

You can access the helpful database mentioned in the guide through Ancestry.com or Ancestry Library Edition.  The particular helpful database  mentioned is noted as the Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications.

Enjoy the document and see if you have any Revolutionary War ancestral connection!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“One-On-One” Genealogy Consultations Being Offered By Casa Italia In Stone Park, IL; Italian Genealogy Research Help Being Offered As Well As Non-Italian Genealogy Research Help Being Offered

Hi Everyone,

Casa Italia LogoI just discovered that Casa Italia Genealogy Department in Stone Park, IL  is offering “One-on-One” genealogy research assistance on Mondays.

Please note in the information that follows that registration in advance  is required.

Sessions are limited to 45 minutes.

Quoting from the blog post:

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1 On 1 Genealogy Consultation

The Casa Italia Genealogy Department is again offering one on one genealogy assistance in our library on Mondays starting September 9. We are not only assisting with Italian research, but any ethnic background. Karen Baleno-Bogdan and Terri O’Connell are providing consultation on Mondays and specializes in Italian research.

To register for a 45 minute session please email to set an appointment ( Karen Bogdan at karenbaleno@comcast.net) or (Terri O’Connell at terri@findingourancestors.net) with your top two preferred dates and times, name, email, phone number and short description of what you are looking for (beginning help, genealogy problem, etc.)

© 2013, Casa Italia, Stone Park, IL

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The offer appears to be primarily geared to Italian researchers that can also take advantage of the resources available at the library at Casa Italia.  It is also nice that you can get this “One-On-One” help for non-Italian genealogy help that you are seeking.

Take advantage of the help being offered through the Casa Italia Genealogy Department.

Visit the main web site for Casa Italia at the following link to see what other information can be obtained from the site:

Casa Italia Website At WordPress

Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, especially if you are stuck on your Italian genealogy research.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Take Advantage Of Holiday Family Gatherings As The Family Historian (Originally Posted In November 2009 And Still Applicable!)

Hi Everyone!

Roast Turkey and StuffingNow that the holidays are upon us again, I wanted to re-post a blog entry I made in November 2009 (actually one of my first posts to the new blog at that time) because the holiday times and family gatherings provide the perfect opportunity to the family historian to share previously researched information and also to gather new information to compile into the family history.

What follows in Bold and Italics is the post I published back in 2009.  The message to family historians is as important today as it was then.  Take a look at the message and take advantage of your time with family during the holidays of 2013-2014.

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The Holiday Season is one of the best times of the year to moveChistmas Holiday Clip Art your genealogy research forward!  You are circled by family members who may be very interested to know of your research.  Not only can you share what you have discovered but you may have willing family members that can’t help but share more with you during this season of sharing!

Now is the time that family members will really see how serious you take your family research.  They may not open up to you as a willing participant at this time.  But you may have planted the seed in their mind that will come to grow at a future date when their assistance will become invaluable.

Bring some copies of research documents you may have uncovered to date as well as copies of pictures to share with the family members present at the gathering.  Keep the originals at home for safety and security!  If you have digitized your discoveries as .JPG images then bring your laptop with the data or your smartphone or your tablet computer if you have one that contains the images.  Even having the images on a flash drive will help because you can plug that into a computer that may exist in the house.  Even new HDTV sets often have a USB connection to the HDTV that you can plug into.  You can then look at the images on the TV screen!

What a great time to share family information as well as to gather more if you can.  Bring a digital recorder or a camcorder with to document the new information family members will be willing to share.  If you have a smartphone you probably have an App that can function as a digital recorder.  Don’t leave all of the stories to your memories.  Get the stories in the voice of the original provider for further analysis down the road.  Ask their permission to audio or videotape what they have to say.  Respect their wishes if they choose not to be recorded.  Then take notes.

Always remember to be a good guest if you are visiting.  It is the Holiday Season after all and not necessarily a genealogical convention!  Don’t make yourself a genealogical nuisance at this time but see if you can arrange a time in the future to revisit with key family members to obtain further information in a non-holiday pressured setting.

Share your family history stories and research.

Keep an ear open for other family history stories.

Plant those seeds among family members for future help.

But most importantly, enjoy your family during this Holiday Season!

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Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Reminder Re-Post: Check This Blog During the Winter Months In Case Bad Weather Forces Us To Cancel A Genealogy Program; I Would Post That Cancellation Notice Here

Hi Everyone!

Winter Weather Clip ArtI just wanted to remind readers of this blog, especially those of you that often attend our monthly Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library (STDL), that I would post a notice here if a Genealogy Program on the 2nd Tuesday evening of the month would have to be cancelled due to bad, wintry weather.

A few cancellations have happened in the recent past and I believe posting the cancellation of that program in this blog proved helpful and beneficial to those who thought of coming out on a bad wintry night.  I believe that our most recent cancellation of our genealogy program was in February 2010 just a few months after I started this blog.

It does not happen often but this blog can easily get the word out that a genealogy program is being cancelled due to inclement weather.

As I write this just before Thanksgiving 2013, it already seems like the depths of winter are upon us.  It is brutally cold today and it seems like much of November has already felt like January!  So far, just a little bit of snow.

I believe November and December 2012 were easy and mild.  January and February 2013 were also uneventful from a weather perspective.  But I do believe in Karma, and it may be paying us back for winter 2013-2014 based on what we have already experienced just during November 2013!!  Hopefully not!

Let’s cross our fingers that our December 10, 2013 program routinely takes place without being impacted by the weather.

So keep checking back here especially on the 2nd Tuesday evening of the month if you may be planning on attending our genealogy program.  If the weather is dicey and we cancel the program, you will hear it here!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Irish-American DNA Connection Insights Provided By Katherine Borges; View Her Presentations At The Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 Conference; Other Videos From The Conference At YouTube

Hi Everyone!

DNA Clip ArtBarb P. is a frequent attendee at our monthly genealogy program.

She is also very big on how genealogy researchers can use DNA to further their research and make other connections to living relatives.

Barb made me aware that there was a Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 conference during which Katherine Borges made some presentations specific to DNA and the Irish-American genealogy connection.

So if you have been doing any Irish research you may want to visit the link that follows and see the online videos of the presentations made by Katherine Borges on the Irish-American DNA connection.

Here is the link to Katherine Borges’ presentations:

Katherine Borges – The Irish-American DNA Connection Presentations from the Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 Conference

Scroll down a little on the site and you will see a 54 minute video as well as a 41 minute video of her presentations at the conference.

The lectures were sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG).

Barb also provided me with a link to the Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 Conference YouTube channel that you can also visit for even a larger number of videos you can view connected to the conference.  You can visit this channel at:

Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 Conference Videos At YouTube

For all of you Irish genealogy researchers, this may be an opportunity to see how you can utilize DNA to further advance your own Irish genealogy research.

Thanks to Barb P. for sharing this genetic genealogy information.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2013″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a November 2013 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2013″.

The video is an approximate 30 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:

  • October was National Family History Month.  You can catch up on all of the posts by visiting the Ancestry.com Blog.  Go to Ancestry.com.  Scroll down to bottom of the page.  Find the link for Ancestry.com Blog.  Look on the right sidebar of the blog for a category called “Family History Month” (They are not in alphabetical order, so you will have to scroll down!).  Catch up on the multitude of blog posts and the information and links within each.
  • DNA Ethnicity Estimate Updated
  • Look at the listing of “new” and “updated” databases.  Don’t just focus on the “new” ones because some of the “updated” ones may now contain more information since you previously may have used one.  So if these updated databases previously gave you data, check to see if they have more info for your research.
  • 1921 Canadian Census now available.  Contains about 8.8 million records.
  • California Death Index 1905-1939 now available.  It is an index only.  If there is something from the index of value to you, write down all of the columnar information for the ancestor.  You will not see the image of the actual record.  You can obtain the full record of information from California, but be prepared to capture the pertinent information from the information to provide to California in order to obtain the actual record.
  • Connecticut Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, now available.
  • Ireland Census 1901 and 1911 now available.  You can search within Ancestry.com, but to see the full image you will be taken to the site of the Irish Archives.  The database is noted with the term “Web” before the title to make you aware the data is contained outside of Ancestry.com
  • Georgia World War I Service Records now available.  Can give insights into not only those that registered for the draft, but those that actually served.  If you find an ancestor in the database, make sure you look at a few records before and after the individual because there may be multiple records for individuals.

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

Chicago Daily News Photographs Collection Database; 55,000 Chicago Images Dating Between 1902 To 1933

Hi Everyone!

Chicago Daily News Photographic DatabaseOne of my fellow reference librarians at our library made me aware of a nice database that can help genealogy researchers that focus on Chicago ancestral connections.

It is called the Chicago Daily News Photographic Database.  It is part of the Library of Congress American Memory Collection.

Here is a description of what the database is:

This collection comprises over 55,000 images of urban life captured on glass plate negatives between 1902 and 1933 by photographers employed by the Chicago Daily News, then one of Chicago’s leading newspapers. The photographs illustrate the enormous variety of topics and events covered in the newspaper, although only about twenty percent of the images in the collection were published in the newspaper. Most of the photographs were taken in Chicago, Illinois, or in nearby towns, parks, or athletic fields. In addition to many Chicagoans, the images include politicians, actors, and other prominent people who stopped in Chicago during their travels and individual athletes and sports teams who came to Chicago. Also included are photographs illustrating the operations of the Chicago Daily News itself and pictures taken on occasional out-of-town trips by the Daily News’s photographers to important events, such as the inauguration of presidents in Washington, D.C.

Here is a link to get you to the website:

Chicago Daily News Photographic Database; Images Span 1902 To 1933

This is a very nice photographic database from the Chicago Daily News, a former newspaper that was published in Chicago between 1876 to 1978.  Photographs taken during the times of our ancestors can add a lot of meaning to who are ancestors were and how the Chicago area looked to them at the time of the photograph.  Images in the database span from 1902 to 1933.

Just looking at images from the time of your ancestor can give you a better perspective on what they saw at the time and how their world looked to them.

Who knows, you may even find images in the database of your ancestors!

You can do a search of the material using “Keyword” or you can browse by”Subject”or browse by “Name”.

I did look at the database and did a search using a general keyword term of “Polish”.  You can control your search variation terms by using the drop-down menus that can make your search too detailed with controlling terms and may not return hits to you because too many conditions are required to be met.  Keep yours simple initially and then use these “filtering” options if needed.

I received 23 hits on that keyword.  The keyword used may be in the associated title of the image or it may be in the text description of the image.  If it is in the text, I noticed it is highlighted in black in comparison to the other text.

You can view the hits as a list view or as a gallery where the image is in thumbnail format.

It was just nice to see what Polish oriented images were contained in this database.  You can take the same approach for your own ethnic area of genealogy interest.

The subject browsing provides you with a rather large list of subjects that may not be very intuitive.  Just looking at the result of one subject it is identified as “from Alexander, Marjory to Allison, Sam R.”.  I just think you may be better using the keyword approach.

Using the browse by name gives you a “range” to look at.  One example of this is how it shows the following name range such as “from Albright, Adam Emory to Taft, Lorado 1860-1936″.  You click on the range if the name is within that grouping and you will be presented with a more detailed list of all of the names within that range.  The name lists are not that overwhelmingly large in numbers.

This is a nice resource for your possible discovery of Chicago ancestral connections at a specific level or just at a general level of interest.  If not a direct connection to a specific ancestor, then you might simply see what information is contained that could generally apply to the times your ancestor was alive in Chicago.

Give it a try for your Chicago ancestral connections.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“Try-It! Illinois 2013″ Free Database Access Available Through November 30, 2013; Request Log-In ID/Password From Illinois Secretary Of State; Approximately 27 Genealogy And Family History Databases Available To Try

Hi Everyone!

Try It Illinois LogoThe Illinois Secretary of State makes available on an annual basis access to a variety of electronic databases that are available for libraries to add to their collection for a fee.  Trying the databases can give the user feedback as to whether the database is good and useful to that user.

The Illinois Secretary of State calls the trial “Try-It! Illinois 2013″.

The Illinois Secretary of State will provide you with a Log In ID and Password that will allow you to visit the databases and give them a test run to see if there is material of interest to you.  If you find a database of interest that your local library is currently not subscribing to you can then provide your input to that library to see if the database access can be obtained by that library for ongoing use.

You can go to the site where Try-It Illinois 2013 information can be found.  At this site you can also submit a request to obtain a Log In ID and Password that will allow you access to the databases available during the trial.  Here is the site to begin your trial access to a multitude of databases:

Try-It! Illinois 2013

This trial is open to users through November 30, 2013.

Here is a little internal memo I received from our technical librarian describing more about this Try-It Illinois 2013 access:

Welcome to Try-It! Illinois 2013, the fourteenth annual statewide database trial, sponsored by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois State Library. Try-It! Illinois offers the library staffs and users of the more than 5,000 ILLINET* member libraries the opportunity to survey and evaluate a wide variety of electronic resources. Thanks to the partnerships between the Illinois State Library and the participating electronic resource vendors, there is no charge for accessing these databases during Try-It! Illinois.

Once I logged in to the trial, I was able to select the “subject” category and it presented me with a list of subjects one of them being “Genealogy and Family History”.  I think selecting the “subject” category will be your best manner of looking for databases rather than the other categories.  Within that category I saw there was a list of 27 databases that had been categorized with this grouping.  You can select a database of interest that will get you to the provider of the database.  With a few more clicks you will ultimately get yourself to the database to actually try it out.

Many of the databases within this list are databases our library currently subscribes to.  Many of the databases on the surface are named in a manner that would make you wonder how it got categorized as a genealogy type database!  e.g. “Visual Thesaurus”.  But, nonetheless, it is in the list of 27 databases.

You also have access to the hundreds of other databases available during the trial, not just the genealogy databases.  The list of databases will be presented to you in alphabetical order by name (Product).  You can also look at the list by “Company” or “Library Type” or by “Subject” as I did to find the Local History and Genealogy Databases. ( I recommend using the “Subject” method to find databases of interest within a subject category.)

Jeffrey Bockman, our recent genealogy program speaker, had a good portion of his presentation on “Maps” devoted to making the audience aware specifically of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.  It just happens that the Digital Sanborn maps are one of the available databases within this trial for you to use!  You can access this database through November 30, 2013 through Try-It! Illinois 2013.

So just head on out to the Try-It! Illinois link I provided above and submit your request to obtain a Log In ID and Password from the Illinois Secretary of State to begin accessing this multitude of databases, 27 of which are identified as being Genealogy and Family History oriented.

We should give a big “thank you” to Jessie White, the Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian for making this access available for trial on a recurring basis each year for a rather lengthy period.  This trial is open from October 1, 2013 to November 30, 2013.

Check out the databases, especially ones that you have not previously accessed or even knew about.  There are literally hundreds of databases to sample across a myriad of subjects.  You have access to all of these not just the 27 databases categorized as being for Genealogy and Family History.

See what you think.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Keeping Kids Still While Being Photographed Back In Time! How Did They Make The Child Sit Still??; Take A Good Look At The Enclosed PDF Picture!

Hi Everyone!

Reader's Digest May 2013 Mystery Picture; How Is The Infant Being Kept Still For The Photograph?

Reader’s Digest May 2013 Mystery Picture; How Is The Infant Being Kept Still For The Photograph?

Here is a little fun item provided to me by Don G. who regularly attends our monthly genealogy programs at our library.

Photos are an important part of anyone doing genealogical research.  Current digital photos are nice.  Old time Kodak photos are nicer still.  But it is real nice when we encounter in our possession photos that were made in a studio that date back to the pre-1900s.

Families took photos of themselves back then just as we do today, except they often did not have the equipment to take pictures as we do today with our cell phones.  They often needed to go to a photography studio for a sit-down picture that took time to take and required being still.

Tough job to do when you have squirming toddlers!

Don G. let me know that there was a “workaround” back in those days that was employed by mothers to help assist their children be still during these photography session requiring absolute stillness to make the photo a success.

Here is the image given to be by Don G. that he obtained from a recent Reader’s Digest issue from May 2013.

Spoiler alert coming after the link to the picture!  So just go to the picture, don’t read the text after the link,  and see if you can tell what is going on in the picture to help the child be still while the picture is being taken.  Also, try not to read the text that accompanies the picture so you can really try hard to figure it out.  That can be hard to do since the “secret” of the picture is explained in text right there in front of you!

Here is a link to the PDF picture that is larger in size and clearer than what you see at the beginning of this post:

Small Child In Picture Circa 1880s Sitting Still For Picture.  How Was The Child Kept Still?

OK, if you went past the link and just kept reading my post, the secret is going to be let out of the bag and it is called a “spoiler”.

I was amazed to find out from Don G. that the mother is actually covered by the “sheet” in the picture and the child appears to be sitting in the lap of the mother.  So, I guess with Mom so close by, the child was more cooperative during the photo session to produce a blur-free image!

I had never heard of that technique and I thank Don G. for bringing it up and sharing the image with me.

I had seen images from the past when a neck brace was used standing behind people in pictures on which they could rest their head to get perfect stillness.  You often see the base of the support on the floor by their shoes if they were standing for the picture.

But I had never been aware of mothers being covered up masquerading as covered furniture and included in pictures of their children!

If it works then do it that way!

The ingenuity of our ancestors to make something work with the technology they had available to them at the time is just priceless.

Enjoy the picture.

Now, you need to take a look at any old pictures you may have in your possession going back to the pre-1900s that included children or infants or toddlers.  Maybe you have a “masquerading” mother in the picture that you never even noticed.

Have fun!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library