Monthly Archives: January 2012

My First Genealogy Poll On This Blog; Genealogy Lineage Software Poll Closed; See the Results

Hi Everyone!

I thought that it was about time to close out my very first poll on this blog.  I have had it up on the blog for about 6 weeks.  I am not sure if I will have a set amount of time when the poll is open for readers to provide their “votes”.  I don’t want the poll to get “stale” over time, so I may target a new poll at about every 6 weeks or so.

So far over the approximate 6 weeks this first poll has been active I have received 39 votes so far on what kind of lineage software readers are using to keep track of their genealogy research results.  I don’t really have a feel yet as to whether 39 votes is a good amount, a small amount or maybe a just right amount.  I guess more is better but it is my first poll and I guess I should be happy that 39 readers were willing to share their thoughts.

Here is a summary as to what software packages readers to the blog have indicated they are using:

Family Tree Maker                    17 Votes      (44.74%)
Master Genealogist                     1 Vote         (2.83%)
Roots Magic                                   2 Votes       (5.26%)
Legacy Family Tree                     3 Votes      (7.89%)
Personal Ancestral File              1 Vote        (2.83%)
Reunion (Mac)                               9 Votes      (23.08%)
MacFamily Tree (Mac)               0 Votes      (0%)
Using More Than One                3 Votes       (7.89%)
Not Using Any                               3 Votes       (7.89%)

Total Votes                                    39 Votes (11-23-2011 to 1-4-2012)      100%

As you can see, Family Tree Maker is the overall winner with about 50% of the votes and Reunion (for Mac) came in a distant 2nd.  It was interesting that about 8% of respondents indicated they are using more than one and 8% of respondents indicated they are not using any!

This was not a scientific poll by any means.  Just a fun, informational poll on who is using what software, or not, to track their genealogical research.  So make of the results what you wish.  Maybe the results are no surprise to you at all based on your own anecdotal insights into what software is being used.  Maybe you are completely surprised.  Either way, enjoy the results for what they are.

I plan on also creating a new “page” at the top of this blog that will contain an archive of the polls I will be including on this blog over time.  That way you can always visit the page and see historically what has been out there and how the results may coincide with your own anecdotal insights about aspects of your own genealogy life.

I have a few more polls lined up in my mind that I will start constructing.  I am certainly open to hear from my readers as to what poll questions they think might be good to put out on this blog as the questions would pertain to genealogy.  You can leave me your good ideas as “comments” on the blog posts, by contacting me directly via the “Contact” page at the top of the blog or by leaving a comment at any of the “polls” that will be appearing on the blog.

I would love to hear from you on your ideas about what to ask our readers for feedback via a poll.

I hope you enjoyed this first poll.

I don’t think it was a disaster that would preclude me from offering another one!

Don’t be afraid to take a vote and give me your response to a poll that is of interest to you.  I only see the statistics and do not see any other information regarding you the reader.

Thanks again for your participation in this very first poll.

Keep coming back to see future polls for which I would love to get some feedback from you via the poll.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Season 3 “Teaser” Information On 3 Stars That Will Participate

Hi Everyone!

We are getting closer and closer to the Season 3 Series Premier of the popular genealogy show on NBC “Who Do You Think You Are?”.

The NBC website for the show is not showing anything of note about who will be in the upcoming episodes for Season 3 starting on the evening of Friday, February 3, 2012 at 7 PM (Chicago Time).

However, the Wiki for the show seems to indicate that Marisa Tomei, Martin Sheen and Blair Underwood are expected to be 3 of the stars the show will focus on as their family history gets discovered.  This is just the rumor and has not been officially noted at the NBC web site for the show which you can get to at:

NBC Official Site for “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Take a look at the link to the Wiki where you can read more details of the show itself over the first two seasons as well as the “teaser” information for the upcoming Season 3 start.  You can read this at:

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Season 3 Wiki Teaser Information

I am certainly looking forward to the new episodes.  Season 2 episodes were considered very good.

Mark your calendars for the new start and plan on setting your VCR or DVR to record the shows.  You can always visit the NBC web site to catch up on episodes for Season 1, 2 and the new Season 3 episodes as they become available.

I can’t wait!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Reminder Re-Post – Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists (NWSCG) Next Program Scheduled for Saturday Morning, January 7, 2012 At 10:00 AM – “Organizing and Writing Your Family History” by Steve Szabados

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to remind everyone that the Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists (NWSCG) will be having a very good program that will take place this upcoming Saturday, January 7, 2012, at 10:00 AM.  I originally made a post on December 5, 2011 letting you know of this program.

I thought it would be a good reminder to re-post the information again because Steve Szabados will be the guest speaker on a topic near and dear to all of us on “Organizing and Writing Your Family History”.  This is a topic that goes great with New Year’s resolutions.

Steve is a great speaker and will certainly motivate you to begin writing your own family history.  It is not too late to consider attending this program.  All you have to do is just show up!

I also think the timing of this program coincides with a blog post I just did yesterday, January 3, 2012, on an article I read from the Newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society, that indicated the importance of writing your Family History in a more formal format to assure that it will get passed down to societies, libraries, archives, the Family History Library and the like.  “Raw Data”, as the article by Craig indicated,  is an almost certainty to be ignored by libraries and the like to take the material.  Your “raw data” must be converted to “published” material to give you a better chance that your hard work does not go to waste and will be accepted by organizations we associate with taking on such material.

So the timing of Steve’s program,  the article published by Craig Pfannkuche as well as the season for New Year’s resolutions are sure serendipitous events at this very time.

Check out the details of the upcoming NWSCG program that I previously posted about.  The program information follows after the following line separator.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


Hi Everyone,

I just received a program notice from the Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists indicating that their next genealogy program is scheduled for Saturday morning, January 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM.

Please remember that the society will be meeting on a new day, at a new time and at a new location starting with programs in August 2011.

The society will be meeting on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM at the Arlington Heights Senior Center at 1801 W. Central Rd. in Arlington Heights, IL.

Please be sure to view the link below that will get you to the program description material supplied to me by the society. 

The speaker for the morning program will be Steve Szabados.  The speaker will present a program titled “Organizing and Writing Your Family History“.

Researchers can arrive as early as 9:30 AM to have informal conversations and share knowledge and seek research advice.

Please take a look at the full PDF announcement of the program by going to:

Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists (NWSCG) January 7, 2012 Program Notice

You will find more details about the program location, the program contents and some information about Steve Szabados, the speaker for the morning from the above link to the program information.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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!

I 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.

So far the December 2011 program was completed with flying colors weather-speaking.  The 2011-201 winter season has been unbelievably mild so far as of this writing.  Perhaps the January and February programs will occur in routine manner should our winter continue along its mild course.

But I also believe in Karma and realize we have had an exceptionally good November and December for weather and the “weather gods” have their way of “pay back”.  Whatever the “weather gods” do for our program nights, I can get the word out via the blog that we may be a “no go”.

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!

Let’s hope I have not jinxed anything weather-wise for our upcoming January 10, 2012 by talking about problematic weather in this post!

See you on January 10, 2012 at 7:30 PM at the main library building for our next program.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Our Next Genealogy Program Is Coming Up On Tuesday Evening January 10, 2012 At 7:30 PM

Hi Everyone!

I thought I would post this reminder of our next upcoming Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library.

There is no pre-registration required in order to attend the program.  There is no fee charged to attend.  Anyone can attend this program.  You do not have to be a library card holder with the Schaumburg Township District Library in order to attend.

Here are the details of our upcoming program for Tuesday evening, January 10, 2012:

Caron Primas Brennan

The Genealogy program will be held on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 7:30 PM in the 2nd floor Classroom.  The guest speaker for the evening will be Caron Primas Brennan.  Caron will present a program titled “Social Networking for Genealogy: Family Trees, FaceBook, Blogs and More”.

Social networking is a collaborative process in which information (comments, photos, news, videos, links) are created and shared.  There are many ways to use social networking for genealogy research, whether you want to share your  family tree, swap pictures, find new places to look for information or get “how to” tips.   Ancestry Family Trees, Facebook groups, shared family web sites, and blogs are all part of the new world of social networking.  You do not have to be a computer expert to benefit!  Come find out who is looking for you!

Caron loves history, biography, puzzles and a good mystery, which makes her perfectly suited to genealogy research!  She has been researching her family history since a 6th grade school project got her interested.  She has been using the computer and internet since before it was “cool”.  She uses The Master Genealogist as her primary software and also uses Family Tree Maker and Ancestry to share with others in her family.  Caron’s only vice is genealogy research so she has subscriptions to many resources including,, NEGHS, Footnote, and Godfrey Memorial Library.  She belongs to several local genealogy groups and is the Webmaster and Newsletter Publisher for CAGGNI (

The doors to the room will open at approximately 7 PM so participants can pick up any handouts, review books and journals and interact with other participants.  Tony Kierna, the STDL genealogist, will start the program at 7:30.  Introductions of new participants will occur as well as a brief review of handouts and genealogical matters.  It is expected that the guest speaker’s presentation will start at around 7:45-8:00 PM.  We will end the session by 9:30 PM.
For further information contact Tony Kierna at 847-923-3390.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Write Your Family History; Do Not Assume That An Archive, Society Or Library Will Take Your “Raw” Data; the Mulvihill Family History of Chicago

Hi Everyone!

While reading the December 2011 issue of the Newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society, I noticed a very compelling and eye-opening article that was written by Craig Pfannkuche.  Craig is a major player in the genealogy community within our area and is the Corresponding Secretary with the Chicago Genealogical Society.

Craig authored an article that showcased a real life example of someone trying to pass on their “raw” genealogical research to a society, library, archive so that all that hard work would not be lost.  In our own personal research efforts we may have children to whom we would like to “pass on the torch” of our hard-work research but for whatever reason the children do not have the same level of zeal we have for family history research.  The same lack of zeal may even apply for our siblings or cousins or any of our own living family connections.

Or we may simply be in a situation that there is really no one alive to whom our material can be passed to for care for our years of hard work.

Often times we may think that certainly a library, a genealogical society, an archive, the Family History Library will have an interest in our “raw” data and material accumulated through the years.

I know this may actually shock you, but the above categories of institutions may have NO interest whatsoever in your “raw” genealogical data!!

The article authored by Craig Pfannkuche in the December 2011 Newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society made me take note of the importance of the article that I actually contacted the society and asked them for permission to reprint in a blog post the entirety of the article.  I was so taken by the subject of the article and its importance that I did not want to paraphrase the article.

The article points us in the direction of converting our “raw” data to a fully composed family history in published format.  In this format it is much more easily able to be taken in by a society, library, archive connected with including such material into its collection.

Craig did an outstanding job in describing the situation in such a way that it is very important that you read the full article.  I think if you do read it, you will certainly take pause as to how your own personal research situation compares to what Craig wrote about.  I have no doubt that you can easily substitute your “raw” family history data into the article and you may very well face the situation of having no home for your “raw” data after you are no longer here on this earth!!

What follows in Italics after the separator line is the full-text of the article written by Craig Pfannkuche that appeared in the December 2011 Newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society.  Permission was granted to me by the Chicago Genealogical Society to include the full-text article in this blog post.  Thank you to the Chicago Genealogical Society for granting me permission.




Recently, two four inch thick binders of family history data (including original photographs) concerning the Mulvihill family of Chicago were donated to the Chicago Genealogical Society. The donation came about because the person who spent much of her life collecting and organizing the data could not, upon her death, find any family members who were willing to take the material.

     The material prompted your CGS Corresponding Secretary to try to find a place to archive that collection.  Since the Chicago Genealogical Society does not have an archives of its own (We have no permanent home.), it was thought that Chicago’s Newberry Library would be a fine place to deposit that material.  I brought the material to the Newberry for Matt Rutherford to look at and discuss the possibility that the Newberry Library might want to take it.  As much as Matt felt that the collection was very interesting and well researched, he said that the Newberry could not take it in its present format.

    Mr. Rutherford said that the Newberry wants to collect family history material which is “bound, with page numbers, and with an all name index.”  He went on to say that all too often material offered is organized in a manner which makes sense to the compiler but not to anyone else.  His rule of thumb for acquisition is that if staff members can not make sense of the material’s organization fairly quickly, then patrons will probably have the same problem.  This is why Mr. Rutherford decided not to accept the Mulvihill family history binders.

     In essence, Mr. Rutherford believes that family history materials can not be useful to Newberry patrons unless they are presented in a published manner such as that which is often family or privately published.  The “Donations” portion of the Newberry web site states that they collect “published genealogies, indexes, and local histories.”

     Mr. Rutherford additionally pointed out that some of the material in the binders contains family information such as birth certificates and photographs of living descendants.  He pointed out that the Newberry does not want to deal with materials concerning living family members without the permission of those living individuals.  He said that having such material without such permissions can cause legal and privacy problems which the Newberry does not want to deal with.

     Mr. Rutherford also mentioned that the Newberry would rather NOT accept donations of family history material in an electronic format (i.e., Disks and CDs) unless they are accompanied by a PAPER version of the same material.  He cited the example of some family trees which were donated to the Newberry on 5.25” floppies 15 or so years ago and are not usable now!

     Beyond the Newberry Library, I was informed by the Chicago History Museum that they do not accept such material for the same reasons which Mr. Rutherford gave.  They would rather that the Newberry Library be the repository for family genealogies.  Further, the Chicago History Museum is, in fact, not now accepting any new acquisitions at all unless the material is an addition to a collection already at the History Museum’s archives.

     Up to the time of this writing, the Irish-American Heritage Center has not responded to requests for donation information concerning the Mulvihill material.

     Your Corresponding Secretary accepts and respects Mr. Rutherford’s contention that acceptance of “raw” family history material collections also poses an economic problem for the Newberry and the Chicago History Museum.  Archival space is at a premium.  Additionally, there is a monetary cost involved in the maintenance of collections. This cost is a serious problem for many historical and genealogical archives in these difficult economic times.

     Thus, what can we do to protect our life work of family history research?  Your Corresponding Secretary strongly believes that we must sit down and write family histories rather than just keep the raw data on some computer program on or paper.  Home publishing can be done.  Writing is certainly difficult but the loss of one’s research efforts for use by future researchers and interested related family historians would be a greater hardship.

     Keep an eye out for Mulvihill family information in a future issue of our CGS Quarterly.  We certainly solicit your responses to the above.


After reading the above, you certainly have to consider your own strategies in thinking you can easily pass down your “raw” data somewhere and to someone after you are no longer here.

Yes you can, but only if you plan on converting your “raw” data to some form of a published family history!

I want to thank the Chicago Genealogical Society and Craig Pfannkuche for giving me permission to present Craig’s article in its full text as it appeared in the December 2011 issue of the Newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society.

I am so glad that readers of this blog can take note of the importance of the article.  Take that information and re-strategize your plans for your own family history work.  You do not want all of your hard genealogical work to become an “orphan” amount of “raw data” that has no place to go like the Mulvihill Family History that was presented to the Chicago Genealogical Society.

Take action now!

Convert your “raw” Family History to some version of a published work that can some day reside on the shelf of some organization and help other researchers.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Blog Re-Post – Make A New Year’s Resolution For 2012 To Make A Breakthrough On A Difficult Line!

Hi Everyone!

Happy New Year 2012 to all of the readers that visit my blog!!

I thought I would re-post a blog entry I made on making a New Year’s resolution applicable to your genealogy research.  The original posting was made on December 28, 2009.  It is as applicable then as it is now.  Read through it, get energized as we often do for a New Year, make a commitment and break through your brickwall research challenge!

The original blog text follows in Italics after the separator line.


I sure hope that everyone received the gifts they were expecting for the recent Christmas holiday.  For avid genealogists I know that can mean only one thing — a new discovery on a difficult family line!

Well then again that does not always happen no matter how hard we wish for a new discovery to push our research lines farther and farther back.

So now with the 2012 New Year here maybe your alternative for this year is to roll up your sleeves and make a New Year’s resolution to re-examine all of the data you may have on one of your more difficult research lines for which you have not made any progress recently.

Now is a great time of the year when the snows of winter may have made it easier for us to stay inside rather than continue to pursue out-of-the-home research in various facilities.  Now is the time to review what we may have previously discovered and how new pieces of information may finally allow us to breakthrough in a big way on one of our troubled research lines.

Here are some simple things to do to see if you can discover something new to allow you to break through your research brick walls:

  • Take a look at your established paper trails for a particular individual you are having trouble with.  I can’t tell you how many times I have noticed something in what I may already have in my possession.  The light bulb may not have previously lit up but taking another look at paperwork you may have may certainly trigger the bulb to light up this time.


  • Re-visit the online databases from which you may have already received some information.  These databases are constantly being added to.  Perhaps the data you needed in the past was simply not in the database at the time because it may have only been 50% completed.  Maybe the database is now 80% completed and the one piece you need is now there.  But you won’t know unless you routinely re-visit these databases.


  • A brand new database may have been added on since you last visited at a popular site like Ancestry or Footnote.  If you subscribe to these keep returning to these sites to see what is new.  If you don’t subscribe personally to them at home, then come on in to our library and use Ancestry Library Edition in our library.  We subscribe to it here, but subscription limitations do not allow us to make this available to you from home as a benefit of being a Schaumburg Township District Library card holder.  You can access from home as a Schaumburg Township District Library cardholder.


  • Talk over your troubled line with a collaborative researcher, perhaps one of the many cousins you have discovered.  Multiple heads are better than one because new perspectives may come to the surface.  Individually we may not be able to see things in a different way.  The opinions of another researcher may shed light on a research problem that we were simply not able to see ourselves.


  • Take a look at the growing data being placed online from the Mormons at their website at  More and more of their films are being digitized and made available for free online.  You can actually do your search online because the film data has been indexed and if you get a hit, you can often link directly to the image of the data itself and save it to your computer.  The data being made available is from worldwide, not just the United States.  Keep you ears open to the progress being made through this project and take a look at the data to see what may be there for you to make a breakthrough in your research.


  • Consider hiring a professional for the one area of your difficulty.  For all of the time that has not been productive for you, it may actually help you to spend some money for a professional to maybe deliver to you the one piece of information you have sought for years.  Once a professional brings a breakthrough you may discover that all of your research will have accelerated.  Consider this option even though it may cost you some money.

Sometimes no matter how hard we try, making these breakthroughs may still not happen!  Being angry and discouraged may only take you to the next 5 minutes!  But you still have the problem.

Try some of the above actions to see if anything new pops up from which you can build upon.  Keep plugging away at your brick wall problem and see if you can loosen up a few bricks by trying some of the above actions.

Maybe this year may be the year of the long-awaited discovery!


I want to wish all of my readers to this blog a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year for 2012!

May you discover all of your hidden ancestors and undiscovered cousins in 2012!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library