Monthly Archives: May 2011

History Channel Has Special Civil War Programs During the Week of May 30 to June 3, 2011

Hi Everyone!

The History Channel is having some great Civil War programs during the week of May 30 to June 3, 2011 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

On Memorial Day evening, they had a two-hour program on the battle of Gettysburg that took place on July 1-3, 1863.  If you missed that, visit the History Channel for when the program will be replayed.

All of these Civil War programs being presented are being presented for the first time.

Visit the History Channel website to get a more detailed description of the programs scheduled for airing and the times they will be aired.  Other History Channel programs such as “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars” are also having a focus on the American Civil War as the topic pertains to their own individual programs.

The History Channel Civil War Programming can be found at:

The History Channel Civil War Programming

Check out other upcoming Civil War programs of interest to you, especially if you know you have Civil War ancestors in your lineage.

Don’t miss out on these wonderful programs during the 150th year commemoration of the American Civil War.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA) Will Have Their Annual Conference on October 1, 2011 in Des Plaines, Illinois

Hi Everyone,

Here is a heads up on another Fall genealogical conference coming local to our area.  The Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA) will be having their annual conference on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Des Plaines, Illinois.

A separate optional activity is planned for Friday, September 30, 2011.  This activity will be a guided bus tour of the old areas of Polish immigration that occurred in Chicago, IL.

The bus tour on Friday, September 30th will leave from the conference hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, 2930 S. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60018, conveniently located near O’Hare airport.  After returning to the hotel there will be time to relax and have dinner.   Afterwards you will have the opportunity to meet with other researchers and share advice, stories, tips and comradery.

Presentations are scheduled for Saturday, October 1st at the hotel and this year the society is taking a different lecture approach. Two presenters, Matthew Bielawa and Jonathan Shea are recognized experts in the area of Polish genealogical research. They will lecture alternately and in tandem, where appropriate, eliminating the issue of wanting to hear both speakers and having to choose between them.

The first lecture “Starting From Home” will be a guide to Polish-American research and its many opportunities that are essential to the all important “place of origin” question. Also addressed will be name variations and misspellings. Subsequent lectures will cover the “3-Ring Circus” of the partitions, finding and understanding vital records across Poland, maps and gazetteers and locating and using records in Polish Archives.

While you attend a conference to nourish your mind, you will also need a break to satisfy your body, so lunch will be provided. And no PGSA conference lunch would be complete without an infusion of culture by colorful and quick-stepping Polish dancers.

Until all of the details are worked out on the tour and the unique presentation details are completed, as well as the registration information and cost, your best bet is to just keep visiting the web site of the PGSA.  You can visit the society website for updates on this annual conference as they are finalized at:

Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA)

You can also see a PDF file of the “flyer” for the program at:

2011 PGSA Annual Conference Flyer

If I receive further details as they are finalized, I will also provide that via another post to this blog when it becomes available.

The PGSA puts on nothing short of a spectacular annual conference.  I have attended them in the past and have always come away impressed and full of more Polish genealogical knowledge and inspiration!

The knowledge and the material you will obtain from this conference will be priceless to help you progress with your own Polish genealogical research.

You will not be sorry for making the effort to attend this all-day program!!

Don’t forget to consider the optional bus tour of many areas of Polish importance to the city of Chicago, especially if your Polish ancestry is linked to Chicago.

Put this date on your calendar, especially if you have never attended an annual conference put on by this society.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

FamilySearch Has a YouTube Video Channel

Hi Everyone!

On a recent Indexing Newsletter I received from FamilySearch, one of the articles in the newsletter indicated that a recent video was just uploaded onto their YouTube Channel.

I was not aware of a dedicated channel from FamilySearch on YouTube.  I checked it out and thought there was some interesting material that resides on this channel.  Most of what is there is short in duration per video, most seeming to be in the 2 to 6 minute range in length of video.

The videos do appear to have been professionally made and “glitzy”, at least the ones I looked at.  They do not appear to have been created as a “home video”.

There are some varied topical videos here.  There are some cute videos in which children are asked about what genealogy is.  There are also some videos on the Granite Mountain storage vault in Utah.  There are even some “How To” videos, most again being in the 3 to 4 minute range.

There appear to be about 30 videos available at the site.

There are currently 396 subscribers to the site.

You can even leave comments at the site, although I only saw a total of 8 when I looked.

I would definitely take a look at the “channel” on YouTube.

You can visit it at:

FamilySearch YouTube Family History Channel

I think you will enjoy what is there.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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:

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

Extensive Civil War Site Online – Read About the War Directly from Online Copies of Harper’s Weekly Newspaper 1861-1865

Hi Everyone,

One of our librarians puts together a weekly listing of websites of note.  In this recent listing I noticed one that pertains to the Civil War.

The site that was mentioned was:

The Civil War As Seen Through The Reporting Eyes of Harper’s Weekly Newspapers

There are many Civil War websites that abound on the Internet.  What made this one catch my eye was the connection of the Civil War as it is written up at the time in Harper’s Weekly Newspaper.  Read about the Civil War as it was happening and as it was written at the time by reporters.  See the stories as our ancestors read them at the time.

Each weekly edition of the paper is presented at this site.  It is wonderfully enlarged and very easy to read each page of the paper.  The paper also includes incredible drawings of individuals, battles, maps on the cover of the newspaper during this time as well as including illustrations of Civil War related items.  It generally looks like the paper contains about 12 to 14 pages of material within each weekly issue.  They did present the paper in those days with a lot of verbiage and type and very little white space to make it easier on the eyes.  So each issue will present the reader with voluminous amounts of information.

I think it is also fabulous to compare the styles of writing that occurred during this time period as presented by the reporters then versus how we read the style today of reporters today.  They really said what they meant in the 1860’s without worrying about being politically correct!!

The producers of this material even included “hot links” within the newspaper pages for the reader to be taken to other parts of the paper directly to see more about the particular topic in the news story.

Some of the categories of information you can find at the site that steer you to information that occurred in Harper’s Weekly Newspaper are:

  • Civil War Overview
  • Civil War 1861
  • Civil War 1862
  • Civil War 1863
  • Civil War 1864
  • Civil War 1865
  • Civil War Battles
  • Confederate Generals
  • Union Generals
  • Confederate History
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Civil War Medicine
  • Lincoln Assassination
  • Slavery
  • Civil War Art
  • Matthew Brady
  • Civil War Links

We all know that the Southern states “seceded” from the Union.  We know of the general term secession.  I found it fascinating to be able to read online the actual “secession” documents that were created by each state that did secede.  It is short and to the point.  I never previously actually read the wording of what a secessionist document really was.  From this site you can read these that are similar to the one you read for the state of Mississippi that occurred in January 1861.  Here is that document:

Mississippi Secession Document January 9, 1861

For any one with Civil War ancestry or just generally interested in all things Civil War, you will definitely want to visit the site and bookmark it for future use.  We have all read various Civil War books that were written by well-known authors.  They put together their material from resources they used.  They provide us with great history.  However, there is nothing like reading original newspaper articles written at the time of the events to really get a first hand view of the stories of the Civil War that were written at the time.  Just like in genealogy research, accessing “primary” material is still the best.

I am really impressed with what you can find at this great Civil War site.

Check it out yourself. 

I think you will also be impressed.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Newberry Library Offering 8 One Hour Genealogy Programs Over Two Days on Saturday July 9, 2011 and Saturday July 16, 2011

Hi Everyone!

I also came across the following upcoming genealogy program information being offered by the Newberry Library when I was just recently visiting their website.  You can visit the Newberry Library directly at  I found this material under their link at the top of their page titled “Public Programs and Events”.  Then under “Adult Education Seminars”.  Scroll down at this page and the material on these programs is contained under the category “History and Genealogy”.

The title of the series of programs is “60 Minutes To Better Genealogy”.

As you can see from the posting title, the Newberry will be offering these programs, 4 each on July 9th and 4 each on July 16th.  These are Saturdays.  You can participate in both days fully, one day fully or even pick individual programs from the 8 being offered.

All of the details about the programs being offered, the times of the programs, the cost and the speaker information follow in this post.  The information was copied from the Newberry website.  There are embedded links that allow you to register for the programs.

The program information follows after the following separator.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


 60 Minutes to Better Genealogy
Saturdays, 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
July 9 – July 16
8 one-hour sessions, $15 per session; $100 for both days; $50 for July 9 or July 16.

For Associates of the Newberry, students, and seniors, $12 per session; $90 for both days; $45 for July 9 or July 16.
Register now for all sessions

Sometimes an hour of instruction on a focused topic can help you push through a particular question or task in your research project. This seminar series is designed with genealogy researchers in mind. You can take all eight sessions, or simply choose those that most appeal to you.

Saturday, July 9
Register now for all sessions on July 9

9:30 – 10:30 am
A Tutorial of Family Tree Maker 2011
Register now
In this guided tour of the genealogical software Family Tree Maker 2011, we will examine the software program using the instructor’s own genealogical examples. Exploration of the software’s workstations will include a brief explanation of input and output possibilities.  Instructor: Marsha Peterson-Maass.

11 am – Noon
Yes, You Can Develop a Research Plan
Register now
Although often overlooked, a well-developed research plan is an important tool for genealogists.  By examining the instructor’s use of research plans, we will study just what general and project-specific genealogical research plans are and the basic methodology for creating them. Research plans require researchers to develop collateral tools like genealogical software, a research journal, or a to-do list, which we will consider as well. Instructor: Marsha Peterson-Maass.

1 – 2 pm
Examining Hidden Research Sources
Register now
We will explore some of the many research sources that genealogists normally don’t use. Some of these include medical records, school records, genealogical/historical/hereditary society records, state census, and the special schedule of the federal census, including veterans’ schedules. We will review research methodologies and techniques, and search examples using both online and manual searches. Instructor: Marsha Peterson-Maass.

2:30 – 3:30 pm
Tools to Dig Deeper: Probate and Inquest Records
Register now
Probate case records can provide relatives’ names, lists of property and furnishings, and bills from service providers. Likewise, a coroner’s signature on a death certificate or a newspaper account of an accidental death can lead to inquest records, which provide information on the circumstances of the death. Instructor: Grace Dumelle.

Saturday, July 16
Register now for all sessions on July 16

9:30 – 10:30 am
Register now
In this guided tour of the genealogical website, we will review the many newly-available documents and resources online, including military and governmental sources that have been digitized by the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and other institutions. We will examine the tools available on the site and how to use the site’s resources. Instructor: Caron Primas Brennan.

11 am – Noon
What’s New: Online Resources for Genealogists
Register now
This session will introduce researchers to new and little-known genealogical resources on the Web. We will examine new sites as well as established ones that present new information, local, regional, national, and international resources, and free as well as fee-based sites. Instructor: Caron Primas Brennan.

1 – 2 pm
History of the U.S. Federal Census
Register now
In genealogy research, we often refer to the decennial U.S. Federal Census simply as “the census.” But in fact, it is really twenty-three separate historical documents, each reflecting the purpose, politics, and idiosyncrasies of its era. We will place each of the censuses in their proper historical contexts in order to better interpret and apply them to our research. Instructor: Matthew Rutherford.

2:30 – 3:30 pm
Adoption Searches Past and Present
Register now
Having an adopted ancestor can be one of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of genealogy research. In the past, adoption records weren’t as well kept as they are today, making searching for the link between birthparents and adoptees difficult. In modern times, adoption searches are often hindered by legal barriers. We will discuss techniques and tips for researching American adoptions in all time periods. Instructor: Matthew Rutherford.

Marsha Peterson-Maass is a Member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and has taught numerous seminars at the Newberry. Grace Dumelle is a professional researcher and author of Finding Your Chicago Ancestors. Caron Primas Brennan is Webmaster for the Computer-Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois ( and frequently offers genealogy presentations at local libraries and genealogy groups. Matthew Rutherford is the Curator of Genealogy and Local History at the Newberry Library. 

PDF Guide to Chicago Church and Synagogue Records from the Newberry Library (Link Included)

Hi Everyone!

One thing or another led me back to the Newberry Library website at  While visiting the site for one thing, my attention waned on my search but I happened to see something else that caught my eye.  I am sure this “wandering” happens by most of us when we visit sites!

Much of my own personal research focuses on my ancestors having lived in the City of Chicago in the Polish enclave called “Old Polonia” around the triangle intersection of Milwaukee Avenue, Ashland Avenue and Division Street (approximately 1600 West and 1200 North for those familiar with the street numbering system!).

At the Newberry site I discovered what appears to be a wonderful all-purpose, all-in-one resource guide titled “Guide to Chicago Church and Synagogue Records”.  It is available as a PDF file and does appear to be quite lengthy in size, consisting of about 163 pages.

Much of my ancestral connections tie into the records left by my ancestors as a result of their interactions with the Roman Catholic churches in Chicago.

While my research may connect to Roman Catholic records, this resource from the Newberry provides plenty of material that can be used as a resource for any number of religious denominations that exist or may have existed in the City of Chicago over time.

Within information contained about the Roman Catholic church, the guide also provides a list of the various Roman Catholic parishes in the City of Chicago.  Even better, the Newberry provides what LDS microfilms exist for the various parishes.  So you can find your ancestral parish church in Chicago and can then see what LDS records for what records exist for this parish.  Film numbers of the LDS films are included.

Since this is a PDF you can access the links that are embedded in the document to take you directly to the site that is being mentioned.  How easy can that be?

It just seemed like this would be well-worth site to mention in a blog posting to everyone.

You can see this great resource document at:

Guide to Chicago Church and Synagogue Records from the Newberry Library

If you have ancestral Chicago connections then you will at least want to take a look at this very information-rich document put together by the Newberry Library.  It can certainly provide you with a lot of information all contained in one document, especially when you can discover LDS film numbers that will lead you to the records of ancestors without having to do another lookup at the LDS site.

Check out the above link.  I think you will enjoy the material.

Church record information is provided for the many and varied denominations listed in this resource guide.  If the LDS does not have the material in film format, the Newberry directs the researcher to a source, often a denominational archive, that has the material.

All in all, this is a great guide to have at your fingertips for helping you research your Chicago ancestors and the resources that are identified that may lead you to the records they left behind.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library