We Had An Active “Breakout” Genealogy Program on March 9, 2010

Hi Everyone!

Guess what??


This has been another tough winter but it sure felt good not to have another major snow storm or ice storm on the night of our genealogy program.  It felt good to get back together after February’s program cancellation due to a snowstorm.

Our Program Room Before Participants Arrive

Many of you must have felt the same because we had 35 people attend our “breakout” program last night.  That is a very high number of attendees for a program when we don’t have a speaker.

For the 12 years that I have been doing this at our library, our Beginner’s Table was the largest I have ever seen.  Normally we put 3 tables together for those to sit around.  We actually combined about 7 or 8 tables and had about 20 people sit around the Beginner’s Table!  In addition to there being many people around the table, everyone seemed active and ready to learn much of what I discussed.

Our Irish Research Table Beginning to Fill Up

I actually think this time our Beginner’s table exceeded in numbers all those remaining that were at all of the other research tables combined!

I mentioned to those at the Beginner’s table that many other local public libraries exist in our area that have a larger focus on genealogy than our own library.  Our library is more known as a library having a specialty for “business”.  The public libraries in our area that have a large genealogical collection on site are:

  • Arlington Heights Memorial Library
  • Wheaton Public Library
  • Gale Borden Public Library in Elgin
  • Mt. Prospect Public Library

Please take a look in the “Favorite Links” section of this blog to link to the web address of each of the libraries.

Beginner's Table Starting to Fill Up

I spent time indicating the importance of “interviewing” your living relatives now in order to begin establishing your ancestral trail.  Those that are elderly may not be around in the future for you to delay your interview.  Be kind.  Be courteous.  Be respectful.  Do not overburden those that you interview.  They may not have as much stamina as you might in your quest to discover your ancestors.  Make sure you ask permission to audiotape/videotape your interview.  Don’t question what you may hear from your interviewee.  It is uncanny how so many of their stories will actually lead you to correct connections after your research progresses.  At first you may be in disbelief.  Trust me.  Your inital reactions of disbelief may soon turn to amazement as your ancestral connections come to light.

I spent some time making sure all were familiar with the major genealogical sites that we all visit frequently.

Sites mentioned were:

I tried to emphasize that researchers should spend as much time learning of the resources available at these sites and not just spend time searching for surnames.

Polish Researchers Gather Round Their Table

I showed those at the Beginner’s table a good amount of what you can do at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints site, commonly referred to as the Mormon site.  I emphasized that resources abound here both for finding reference materials for countries and states as well as finding Family History Centers (FHC) and using the catalog to discover material that can help you with films for geographical areas of interest.

I ended my discussion of Mormon resources by making those at our table aware of the Mormon digitization project to convert their 2.5 million reels of resource data to digitized images on the web fully indexed and available for free.  The very early beginnings of this data can be found in their “Record Pilot Search” at their web site.

German Researchers Filling Up Their Table

I ended our discussion indicating that a beginning researcher should use the United States Census data that is available electronically through Ancesty.com, Family’Search.org and Heritage Quest as their first effort into researching actual data.  Even if you want to jump into your ethnic area of research and connect to the mother country, don’t do it.  Work your ancestral connection back from the 1930 census back as far as it will take you until their arrival into the United States.  Build a solid base from you going backwards through as many censuses as possible.  You will discover much and many of the stories you have heard from family members may have different shades once you see the data in the census.

We ended our program at around 9:30 PM with everyone leaving with much more information than when they arrived!

I thank those that stayed after we ended to help put the room back in order by putting the tables in chairs back in the form of a classroom setting.  Thank you so much for your help.

Thank you also to those that brought in some extra “cookie” and “cake” goodies.  I really appreciate your kindness in treating us to some of your great baking!

Participants Are Filling Up Many of the Research Tables

We will be doing another one of our “breakout” programs in June 2010.

Keep coming back to our blog to find out the details as we get closer to that date.

I hope everyone had as good a time last night as I did!

See you all next month on April 13, 2010 at 7:30 PM at our library for our next program.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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