Category Archives: Program Summaries

Summary of Our Recent October 12, 2010 Genealogy Program

Hi Everyone!

We had another great turnout at our recent Genealogy Program held at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, October 12, 2010.  Our program for the evening was titled “Social Security Death Index (SSDI) – New Things to Know”.  The guest speaker for the evening was Larry Olson.

We had 65 people in attendance for our program.  The room was hopping with a lot of enthusiastic researchers all wanting to know more about tapping into the SSDI.  Larry was there to encourage us to not only use the SSDI but also to consider using multiple SSDI databases available to researchers, most of which are free, some of which are subscription based and costing some money.

Participants Started Arriving Early for the Evening's Program. There Were Many Engaged Pre-Program Conversations

We had about 7 new participants attend this program.  I had each one introduce themselves to us and give us each an idea as to how new they were to genealogy as well as to share some key surnames they are researching.  I shared with each new participant a complimentary library genealogy handout package to help them become familiar with researching and what materials are in our library.

After the introductions of new participants, I spent about 15 minutes reviewing the “electronic” handout material that I post as a PDF to our library’s genealogy blog.  Anyone visiting this blog can find this material for the recent program as well as going back about one year.  These can be found in the right sidebar of the blog under the title of “Handouts”.

Some of Our Avid Researchers Awaiting the Start of This Informative Program.

Our monthly library genealogy newsletter can also be found on the right sidebar of the blog under the title of “Newsletters”

I encourage anyone visiting to take a look at this material.

Larry started his presentation at around 8:05 PM using a nicely put together PowerPoint presentation of his material that was in paper handout material for those in attendance to take home and refer to.  I hope to receive a “lite” version of the handout material from Larry so I can post it to this blog.

Our Guest Speaker Larry Olson Preparing to Start His Presentation

Larry provided a good deal of information on the historic aspects of the Social Security Administration (SSA).  He gave us the following information on the SSA from a Timeline perspective:

  • 1935 Social Security Act signed
  • December 1, 1936 was the date the first SS card was issued
  • 1937 Numbers began to be issued
  • 1937 to 1963 Railroad workers had a separate plan and separate numbers
  • 1940 Some payments began to be made
  • 1942 Use of SSN optional on tax returns
  • 1946 Use of SSN made mandatory on tax returns
  • 1951 Other categories of workers began being included in the plan

Larry also provide a nice overview on who actually received a card over time as the system expanded.  He noted the following:

  • 1936 – Workers under age 65 in commerce and industry eligible to receive a card.
  • 1941-1945 – Elderly and women who might never have applied received a card.
  • After 1951 – Employees working abroad, government workers, farmers, self-employed, domestic workers and self-employed professional were now added to the rolls.
  • 1965 – Those over 65 who had still not applied for and received a card were provided one for purpose of Medicare registration.  Employees of non-profits companies that had previously been included were now included.
  • 1988 – All children claimed as dependents for tax purposes were now issued a card.

There Are Many Attentive Researchers Listening Closely to What Larry Offered About Using the SSDI File

Larry indicated that he has used the following well-known and some not so well-known organizations from which he has accessed the SSDI that is offered by them.  Be aware that there are more places where you can find an SSDI, but these are the ones included in his analysis.  Places mentioned were:

  • Ancestry
  • FamilySearch
  • GenealogyBank
  • New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGS)
  • State of Washington
  • Rootsweb
  • World Vital Records
  • Stephen Morse One-Step Search
  • Indiana State Digital Archives

Larry Olson Presenting His Program on Using the SSDI

Larry shared what he discovered when he used the various sites above for a particular ancestor of his that he knew would be in the SSDI.  Results were close but not exact among the SSDI sites visited.  Some sites included a name in their site that was not included in another site.  Some sites had the name but other sites may have indicated the person was a “Jr. or Sr.”. Some sites included a middle initial, other sites did not have one.  Some sites may had a full middle name while other sites had no middle name or just an initial.

The conclusion reached by Larry that we should take into account when we use the SSDI is to use multiple SSDI files to access because we may very well see more of the data of a particular ancestor in one of the SSDI files that we do not necessarily see in the one and only SSDI file we are by “habit” just using!! 

Larry also offered the following reasons to consider as to why you may NOT find someone in the SSDI when you believe they should be there:

  • Person never paid into Social Security
  • Person never collected a benefit
  • Person’s death was not reported to the SSA
  • Person died before 1962
  • Person was a participant in the Railroad Retirement Program
  • Person is in the file but may be listed under an initial, a middle name or a nickname rather than their given name as you may know it.
  • Person’s name was shortened in the index inadvertently because the system only allows for twelve (12) letters in the last name field and nine (9) letters in the first name field.  Consequently, additional characters past the limits notes are simply left off!
  • Person is in the file, but the original data was reported or recorded incorrectly.
  • SSDI being used  by you may simply not be up-to-date!

Larry Olson Interacting with Our Audience During His Presentation on Using the SSDI

The SSDI is a valuable resource tool.  Obviously, we now know we need to tap into more of the SSDI files that are available rather than just using one and only one that we may use simply by habit!

Larry ended his presentation by around 9:20 PM and stayed around to take questions by anyone interested in learning more about his program presentation.

This was certainly a great program having a great topic with a great speaker!  Larry definitely knows his material on the SSDI!

Thank you Larry for offering to provide your program to our audience.  We all appreciated it and certainly left with much more information on the SSDI than we ever realized existed.

I also want to thank those of you that attended the program.  I hope we left you with plenty of information to take home and make your family history research even more successful when you will be accessing the SSDI information on the Internet.

I hope to see you come back for another one of genealogy programs that we offer on the 2nd Tuesday evening of each month at 7:30 PM at the Central location of the Schaumburg Township District Library.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Most Recent Genealogy Program That Was Held on September 14, 2010

Hi Everyone!

We had our most recent Genealogy Program at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, September 14, 2010.  It was one of our quarterly “break out” sessions.  We did not have a speaker for the program.  Instead we had our “break out” work groups giving the opportunity for those interested in various ethnic areas of research to sit with fellow researchers and both learn new things about the topic as well as to share items of interest to help make researching the topic more productive.

We had groups for:

  • Irish Researchers
  • German Researchers
  • Polish Researchers
  • Czech Researchers
  • Italian Researchers
  • Scandinavian Researchers
  • British Isles Researchers
  • Colonial American
  • General “Troubleshooting” Group
  • Beginner’s Group

We also had the laptop computer set up and connected to the projector to allow anyone to use during the session.

We had a total of 37 researchers in attendance for the program.

It did appear that the vast majority of attendees were situated at the Irish, German and Polish tables as well as at the Beginner’s Table that was being led by myself.

We had 3 new people attend the program.  I asked them to introduce themselves.  Each was given a welcoming package of genealogical material to assist them in their research.

I then reviewed the “handouts” package electronically from what was posted on this blog for this program.  Just look at the right sidebar of this blog for an “archive” of past “Newsletters” and “Handouts”.  I want to use the handouts to keep those in attendance informed of upcoming genealogy programs, news of note in genealogy as well as some summaries of interesting magazine/journal articles that seemed to really hit home with some new research information on a particular genealogical topic.

I do want to apologize for the delay on the “break out” groups.  I normally target a start of these groups by no later than 8 to 8:15 PM.  We did not actually start until about 8:30 PM because I spent a good amount of time sharing with the attendees that I had become an LDS Indexer with the Records Pilot Project.  This is the ongoing project that anyone can sign up with the LDS to become an Indexer assisting with indexing the 2.5 million microfilms the LDS is digitizing and indexing, thus making this data available to fellow researchers for free on the Internet.

I did ask those in attendance if anyone else was involved in doing LDS Indexing.  If I remember correctly, two other attendees indicated they were doing indexing and one other attendee was involved as an “arbitrator” who makes the final decision on what will be uploaded if 2 indexers had differences on what was in the record they were indexing.

My excitement in participating in this project was evident and it caused me to talk about it far longer than I expected.  Many questions from those in attendance did arise from my comments.  I hope I was informative and was able to encourage those in attendance to also consider becoming Indexers or Arbitrators.

I hope to shortly make a rather “large” post to this blog about my experiences being an Indexer.

I also hope to see if I can put the material together and actually present information on this topic at some future date as a program unto itself.

Again, I apologize for not getting us started with the “break out” groups until 8:30 PM.

We had a table full at the Beginner’s table having about 12 people sitting there listening to me give advice and direction on what to focus on and how to progress with research.

I did notice that the German, Polish and Irish tables were so intense on their sharing of information that I had to indicate at 9:30 PM that we needed to end the groups so we could start closing down and rearranging the tables to their original layout ion the room before the library closed at 10:00 PM.

I especially want to say a big “thank you” to those that were still there at 9:30 PM and helped rearrange the room.  I could not do it without your help!!  Thank you, all of you!!

I also want to thank those of you that took many of the newcomers under your wings to help them with individual one on one time while I was busy assisting others.  You are so sharing!  You know who you are!  Thank you so much again for offering such personal assistance.

Based on an observation, I would certainly encourage future participants at these quarterly sessions to consider bringing in a laptop or a notebook to have to use at the table you choose to participate at.  Because of our wonderful Wi-Fi setup, you can easily tap into our Internet setup directly from your laptop or notebook and not have to worry about using our own laptop/projector set up to show someone some piece of information.  It looked like at least one person at each of the major tables had a laptop.  It looked like it worked out quite well.  Please bring your laptop or notebook to these special sessions in the future because it looks like the work at the tables can be even more productive using the laptop or notebook to tap into the Internet via our own Wi Fi setup.

Please remember that we have these special “break out” sessions in the months of March, June, September and December on the 2nd Tuesday evening of the month.

We certainly had a great turnout of very highly motivated researchers who were craving to learn new things and to share the things they knew about with others.  My hats off to all of you for such enthusiasm you brought to the program.

Thank you again to all of you that came out to participate.

We hope to see you again at our upcoming programs.

Keep coming back to this blog to stay in touch with what is going on about our genealogy programs as well as other genealogy programs in our general area.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary and Photos From Our Recent August 10, 2010 Genealogy Program; Speaker Bibliography Included Near End of Post

Hi Everyone! 

All that I can keep saying is that you are one incredible group of genealogy researchers! 

A total of 70 of you came out and attended our most recent genealogy program that we presented on August 10, 2010. Thank you  for taking the time to come out to one of our genealogy programs.  

Ginger Frere was our guest speaker for the evening.  Ginger’s past programs at our library have also turned out some large size crowds.  Ginger presented her program to our audience on August 10, 2010 titled “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places – the Search for Marriage Records”. 

I opened the program at 7:30 PM by having those in attendance that were new to our programs introduce themselves to us.  We had about 8 new participants in our audience.  Each just gave us some brief information as to their name, how new they are to genealogy and what are some of the major surnames they are searching for.  Each participant received a “Welcome Package” of introductory material on genealogy from our library.  The package contained some information on genealogical materials in our library, information on participants that are participating in our program and surnames being searched by participants. 

Ginger Frere Wowing Our Audience with Her PowerPoint Marriage Records Presentation

We are also happy to include in the genealogy welcome package an introductory genealogy book authored by Jeffrey Bockman, one of our frequent genealogy speakers at our program.  The title of his book is “Give Your Family A Gift That Money Can’t Buy: Record And Preserve Your Family’s History”.  It is a very good book that can be especially helpful to the novice and beginning genealogy researcher. 

After introductions of new participants I then proceeded to briefly review the “handouts” I created for this program.  This included some information on some upcoming genealogy programs within our geographic area for September 2010.  I also included some handout material on a few topics I discovered within Dick Eastman’s genealogy blog that were timely and topical to share among those present.  I also included some material on some articles I came across within some of the genealogy journals that our library subscribes to. 

A PDF file of these handouts and an archive of previous handouts is included within this blog on the right sidebar of the blog under the category name of “Handouts”. 

The reader of this blog will also find PDF files of our monthly library’s genealogy newsletter that is extensive in size and is included in this blog also along the right sidebar of this blog under the category name of “Newsletters”. 

Part of Our Large Audience Listening Intently to Ginger's Program

I encourage readers to take a look at this material to allow them to keep up with things that are newsworthy in genealogy.  The newsletter also contains  information on our recently added genealogy journals and information on any newly added genealogy books to our collection.  You do not have to struggle with paper copies anymore.  These files are always here to access.  The Newsletters have been created with Bookmarks and Hyperlinks for easy maneuvering within the document.  Internet web links can be accessed from within the document taking the reader directly to the web page of interest. 

Ginger started her program at around 8:00 PM.  She shared with us historical background on the involvement of civil institutions as well as religious institutions in their role on documenting the act of marriage.  The Catholic Church has required the documenting of these major religious events in a person’s live since the mid-1500s.  This would include Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths as well as other religious events.  For a Catholic to become validly married, the paper trail of a valid baptism had to be shown in order for a valid marriage to occur. 

Ginger Frere Providing Audience With Great Marriage Records Tips

Consequently, all of these events in life leave a wonderful trail for the researcher to discover about their ancestor being researched. 

Ginger shared a good deal of information on what we may have heard in the past called “Gretna Greens”.  I would encourage the reader to just do a Google search on the topic for further information.  The concept of this “Gretna Green” is liken to a “marriage center” that draws brides and grooms to leave their own local areas and tie the knot of marriage in these geographic marriage areas.  Enticements were often made by local governments, or businesses, to entice marrying couples to come to their area to get married rather than in their own local area.  Marriage license costs and other fee based marriage requirements were often eliminated or reduced so the prospective couple would be married outside of their area rather than in their own home location.  These married couples might very well stay in the area for some recreation and enjoyment and spend their money in these “Gretna Green” locations as tourists, vacationers and honeymooners, spending their money in these areas rather than back home. 

Ginger’s presentation on these sites explained a puzzle to me in my own personal research.  I had many couples in my ancestral research that indicated they were married in Crown Point, Indiana.  All of these people lived in the Chicago area.  Crown Point was not that far away across the Indiana border and was easily accessible with good transportation.  In essence Crown Point, Indiana was a “Gretna Green” of its time back in the 1900-1930 timeframe in our area. 

Thank you Ginger for helping me better understand why Crown Point, Indiana was so common in marriage records I have researched. 

Ginger Frere Emphasizing To Think "Out of the Box" When Looking for Ancestral Marriage Records That Have Not Yet Been Discovered

I would venture to guess that many researchers will find similar events in the lives of their ancestors about marriages that took place out of the expected geography where they should have occurred.  Dig deeper into discovering the “Gretna Green” locations at the time of the event and you may very well discover your “Gretna Green” marriage mill that attracted so many marriages for reasons other than “love”.  Ginger’s “Gretna Green” locales sure helped demystify my mystery! 

Maybe the reason you also can’t find a marriage record for someone you assumed would have gotten married in their own locale is that they crossed a county boundary or a state line to take advantage of a marriage elsewhere that was less expensive to do because the marriage license fee was waived or some added perks were included to the bride and groom for getting married at location A rather than location B.  Our ancestors were also aware of the economies of getting married.  If they could accomplish their goal and save some money while easily transporting themselves to this locale, then maybe you will discover their marriage records in these locales rather than in their own backyards! 

Ginger also shared with us the dark side of marriages during times when certain ethnic groups were by law forbidden to marry those of other ethnic groups.  This was applicable in certain counties or areas of the country where African-Americans and Native Americans were forbidden by law in their local from marrying into other ethnic groups.  In this case, you may not find evidence of marriage records simply because by law at the time no marriage could have taken place. 

Ginger’s presentation shows why it is important to take a step back from searching databases and to formulate a better understanding of the history surrounding the time of our ancestors.  Don’t always think of the omission of finding someone in a database is due to a database problem or a record omission.  Rather, the ancestral record may not be included because it did not occur the way you thought it was supposed to!  Ginger also made the point that we should know the geographies of areas.  Did someone live close to a different county?  How about close to another state (think Chicago and the closeness to Wisconsin and Indiana)?  How about knowing whether there was a rail line nearby that could take someone easily to another county or state?  How about a river that could do the same? 

Ginger Frere Taking Questions After Presenting Her Program on Marriage Records

Ginger has now opened up our eyes to look a little deeper when we are having a hard time finding a marriage record for someone we are sure got married in the area they lived.  After listening to Ginger, the possibility is that there were many factors that might have drawn our ancestors away from their local area to get married somewhere else.  Especially now, if you have been using databases for a given county marriage records, take a look at a map and see what surrounding counties are nearby or counties of other close by states.  Consider searching these and not just the ones where they lived. 

Ginger was kind enough to allow me to post her bibliography of the evening’s program.  You can look at her bibliographic handout for the program at  As you can see it is a PDF file of the material that I have uploaded to WordPress.  Take a look at it for further references to help you pursue and better understand how to make our quest for marriage records even more productive. 

Ginger, thank you again for an outstanding program. 

We hope to have you back for another program in the near future. 

And to all those that attended Ginger’s program, we thank you for taking the time to come to our library and to see a very good program from Ginger Frere.

We hope to see you again for next month’s program.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Program Notes from Our July 13, 2010 Program

Hi Everyone!

I want to thank Kristin Newton McCallum, our guest speaker for the evening, for dazzling us by showing us so much more of the functionality of Heritage Quest.  Heritage Quest is a mainstay genealogy data base product that is offered by many public libraries as a great resource of genealogical information.

WOW!  I did not even realize it that there are so many better ways to use the product to find information in the product.  I only wish that Heritage Quest would provide some better up front information to allow users to get the most out of using the product.

I also want to thank all of those that actually came out to see our program.  We had a total of 74 participants attend the program.  Literally, our room was about as full as we could have.  The attendance for this program ranks right up there at the top of the most attended.  Our record so far has been 76.  Our room limitations are just about at that level.  Those that attended can attest to the fact that it really was crowded in the room.

I got so into the presentation by Kristin that I literally forgot to take some pictures of our guest speaker as well as some pictures of our large crowd.  I apologize for those reading this post that there are no accompanying pictures to share.  I think that the next time I will keep my camera bag strapped around my neck for easy access and as a reminder to take some pictures!!

Kristin had a very good handout and has indicated that I can post the links that exist for this handout.  Anyone who may have missed the program now has the ability to fill in the blanks on the topic of using Heritage Quest through accessing the links for the handout.

Kristin has also been kind enough to provide a link to her actual PowerPoint presentation she used for her program.  It may be of some help  to those who saw the program and may act as a refresher.  For those that were unable to attend but are looking at the presentation for the first time, you may discover that some slides are intuitive enough but others may not be as clear without having heard Kristin expound on what the slide was attempting to show.

You can access the PowerPoint presentation of the material for the program directly at the following link:

The links provided by Kristin for the handouts can be found at:

Handout #1 –

Handout #2 –

Handout #3 –

Kristin also had a 4th handout that was specific to searching PERSI.  The text for this handout follows in Italics:


Searching PERSI in Heritage Quest

 What is PERSI (Periodical Source Index)?

 PERSI is an index of all the genealogical newsletters and magazines held by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne Indiana.  It is estimated that ACPL owns 80% of all national genealogical periodicals published in the United States.

 What Kind of Information Might I Find in Genealogical Society Periodicals?

  • Transcribed or Abstracted Records
  • Indexes to Vital Records
  • Indexes to Historical Books
  • Census Indexes
  • Genealogical Queries
  • Family Histories
  • Pedigree Charts
  • Graduation Lists
  • Marriage and Obituary Abstracts
  • Transcribed Directories
  • Abstracted Diaries
  • Biographical Sketches
  • Naturalization Lists
  • Transcribed Bible Records
  • Transcribed Probate Court Records
  • Scrapbook Transcriptions


  How is PERSI Searchable?

By Country
By State
By County
By Locale
By Subject (Record Type)
By Article Title (Keyword Search)
By Periodical Title

 What Will I Find in PERSI?

 Article Titles
Name of Publication
Date of Publication
Issue and Volume Numbers
Where Available

 What Won’t I Find in PERSI?

  •  Full Text Articles – PERSI gives citations only.  To read the article, visit a holding library or request the article through Interlibrary Loan.
  • Abstracts or Summaries – Beyond the title and indexing there is no further description about the contents of the article.
  • In-Depth Indexing – Indexing does not include every place or name mentioned in an article. 

 People Searches in PERSI

Use this search to look for articles about a family.  This search function will have limited use, though, because unless your family is the main focus of the article, their names won’t be indexed.  Remember, PERSI does not have an everyname index to genealogy periodicals.  If your ancestor was simply in an article listing individuals buried in a certain cemetery, for example, their name is not going to show up in the index. 

 * Place Searches in PERSI 
Genealogists will find this the most useful search in PERSI.  Use a place search to locate genealogical records covering a town, county, state, or country.  Limit your search by record type for best results.  For example, you can search to see if Vital Records were ever published in a periodical covering McHenry County.  Once you have the citation for this article, you can request the article via Interlibrary Loan to see if your ancestor is mentioned.

 “How To” Searches in PERSI
Find an article citation about how to research a certain topic.

 Periodical Search in PERSI

  • Browse Periodical Citations by Year and Issue
  • View All Articles From a Periodical by Date
  • Locate a Periodical’s Publisher and Subscribing Institutions

 *Note: The list of subscribing institutions provided in Periodical Search is only a small selection of libraries. For a more complete listing of library holdings, see


Thank you Kristin for allowing me share this helpful series of handout information via our blog.

Take a look at the links above to some of the handout material and to the Italic text above of the PERSI material provided by Kristin.  With this information, head on back to Heritage Quest and give all of the individual data bases contained within Heritage Quest another try.

Remember that Heritage Quest is more than just access to searching the Census records with their accompanying images.  With Kristin’s aids don’t forget to take a deeper look at the following additional databases contained within Heritage Quest:

  • Books
  • PERSI (Periodical Source Index)
  • Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Records
  • Freedman’s Bank Records (1865-1874) Founded to Serve African Americans
  • U.S. Serial Set for Searching Memorials, Petitions, and Private Relief Actions of the U.S. Congress

I hope that everyone came away with some additional enthusiasm to go back and revisit a great electronic resource easily available from home for our registered cardholders of the Schaumburg Township District Library.

For those of you who have not had their library card issued by us but issued instead from your own home library, make sure you inquire as to whether Heritage Quest is available to you from home through your own library.

I sure hope everyone had  as great a time as I did at this program. 

Great program, great speaker, great turnout, great handouts, great tips.

I am definitely going back to revisit Heritage Quest!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Program Summary from Our Recent May 11, 2010 Genealogy Program

Hi Everyone!

As you may be aware, our original program scheduled for May 11, 2010 was to be a topic on “20th Century Military Records” to have been presented by Marian Schuetz.  Due to a personal emergency, Marian was unable to present the program.  I apologize for this unanticipated change.  I will see what scheduling I can do in the future to have a program on military records.

This blog served a great purpose in allowing me to get the changed program information out to all of you.  Many of those who came to the program knew that the original program had been changed and were therefore not surprised.  For some, it was still a surprise!  But hopefully, a pleasant surprise with a different topic.

Knowing that Marian would not be able to present her program, I quickly nominated myself to present a substitute program.  Because of the season we are entering and because I have just done some of this research in the Fall of 2009, I chose to present a somewhat “ad lib” dual program on “Tools to Take for Cemetery Research” and “Contributing Cemetery Information to the FindAGrave Website”.

We had 55 people in attendance for this quickly put together substitute set of topics.  In part one of the presentation I shared with the those in attendance the “things” they should consider bringing with them when embarking on doing on-site cemetery research.  This is my “personal” list.  Each of us may ultimately create our own “list” of items to bring with but I wanted to share what things I not only brought the last time but what additional items I may bring the next time I do on-site cemetery research.  Take it from me, there is no worse feeling than to be in a cemetery doing research only to discover that you never thought of bringing “this” or “that” when you were on-site.  In an urban cemetery setting or one close to home, this may not be such a problem.  But if you are in a truly “rural” cemetery setting, in which you may be a long way from any convenience items, then pre-planning in advance on what you will bring with is even more important.

I would encourage those that read this blog to leave any comments on items they may bring to do cemetery research that may not be on my own list.

Here is my list of  “must have”  items to have at the cemetery:


  •  Hat (Baseball or Wide-Brimmed)
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Waterproof Boots (especially if you are going early in the morning)
  • Long Sleeved Light Shirt (sun protection)
  • Long Pants (sun protection and working on the ground)
  • Rain Poncho or Waterproof Jacket with Hood


  •  Sunglasses
  • Camera/Video Camera
  • Fresh Batteries for cameras
  • Instruction books for cameras
  • Walkie-Talkies (if two of you are going, or even more)
  • Instruction books for walkie-talkies, especially if you may want to change channels.


  •  Medications (personal)
  • Small First Aid Kit (Blisters, Cuts, Abrasions, Pain Relief)
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellant


  •  Drinking Water (plenty, with ice)
  • Energy bars
  • Sandwich
  • Cooler with ice


  •  Maps provided by cemetery office with graves marked
  • Large orange safety cone for marking the grave when found so you see it easily when returning back from the car.
  • Tall orange flagged ground stakes, also for marking graves so you see them easier when you return from the car.
  • GPS if you may already have GPS coordinates for gravesite.
  • Cemetery workers – they know their way around.  Don’t be afraid to ask them!
  • Use cemetery provided section marker guides to help you know you are in the right area of a section.  Expect that these will not be readily seen and may be below ground.


  •  Waterproof tarp (8 feet by 8 feet) to spread out or fold up and kneel on.
  • Knee Pads
  • Pressurized 2 gallon water container with spraying wand (like you use for pesticides)
  • Long handled floor cleaner with sponge mop head for wiping the headstone after spraying it.  The long handle eliminates your bending down plus gives you scrubbing leverage.
  • Sharpened wooden sticks to use as tools to remove dirt embedded in chiseled letters on headstone.
  • Mirror to reflect off of worn chiseled in headstone inscriptions thus giving you a better chance to determine what is actually inscribed.
  • Sod cutter
  • Hand grass shears
  • Whisk broom

Remember, the above items ar those that I have brought to the cemetery.  It is good to have them in your car, but you may find you will not necessarily bring them all with you to the actual discovered gravesite.

I also use a “laundry cart” that I purchased from Target for about $30 to put any of the above materials into that I will pull behind me to bring to the gravesite.  This is a fairly large, steel wire basket fold-up cart that has 2 large rear wheels and 2 smaller front wheels.  You will need to put some kind of cardboard on the bottom so that long-handled thin items such as a sod cutter will stand up in the cart without falling through the large wire openings of the basket design.

I definitely encourage anyone to leave comments on this posting on things they bring to the cemetery for their own research that may not be on my own list.  I am always open myself for anything new to bring with to make your research experience more pleasant, enjoyable, safe and productive!!

My own experience also taught me to consider the following actions when you are going to the cemetery:

  • On a good day with a lot of luck, give yourself at least 20 to 30 minutes per grave site you want to find, clean up and photograph.
  • Ask at the office before you go out looking for a site whether they have records of a headstone being placed.  They may tell you the site you seek is contained within another family site.  You may still see no identification of the gravesite if the person’s name was not chiseled into any existing monument.  They are there but they are not identified!!
  • Think about going twice if the weather will be extremely hot or will be dangerously unstable with storms!
  • Mid-October and later may not be good because of leaves.  Trust me, there are a lot of leaves on the ground at this time in many cemeteries with mature trees!!
  • Consider uploading your findings and any pictures you have taken to FindAGrave!  They seem to be a great organization.  Many researchers visit this site often looking for names.

For the second part of my presentation I showed those in attendance all that is FindAGrave.  It is a wonderful site that you can visit and join yourself at

I want to refer all of you to the posting I did on this blog on March 27, 2010 regarding FindAGrave and my choice to actually become a contributing member of the site.  This posting will provide you with what I presented at our program.

I chose to participate in order to upload photos of the headstones or monuments of my ancestors.  But understand, if you know the cemetery location of a deceased ancestor, you too can choose to participate with this site and upload your birth, death information for your deceased ancestors without uploading any pictures.  Your research would then be out there to possibly receive contact information from other researchers making a connection to a mutually shared ancestor.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO UPLOAD PICTURES!

So for those of us that have a great amount of lineage data in our lineage based programs, you can upload that material to this site.  To make your participation more productive, you should only consider uploading material for which you know of the cemetery burial location.  Just having birth and death date information without knowing the cemetery location of the deceased is somewhat counterintuitive to upload to “FindAGrave”! 

We ended our program by 9:30 PM.  I guess I must have done OK in presenting this material because I am still alive and writing this summary for all of you to enjoy!!

I thank all of you who told me that I had done a good job, maybe good enough to consider that I present more programs in the future!  I do have some ideas in mind for more things I would like to personally share.  So keep looking at our future schedule of programs to see if my name makes it to the list.

It appears all 55 participants had a good time and it sounds like all of you walked away with a little more information as well as maybe being inspired to visit the cemeteries of your ancestors and pay them homage.  There is a touching moment you will experience when you stand above a gravesite that until then was just an entry in a lineage data base.  You may be the first visitor in a hundred years!  It is true that you may say a few words to this ancestor that is below your feet that may have been there for hundreds of years.  If it is a direct ancestor connection, then you can thank them for your being on planet earth!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Summary of Our Most Recent Genealogy Program on April 13, 2010 with Teresa Steinkamp McMillin As Our Guest Speaker

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to provide you with an overview of our most recent Genealogy Program that was held at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Tuesday evening, April 13, 2010.

We had a “full house” gathering of 73 highly motivated genealogy researchers who were just ready to learn some new resources and techniques to help them in their own research efforts.  this has been one of our highest levels of genealogy program attendance!

Our guest speaker for the evening was Teresa Steinkamp McMillin.

Teresa presented a program titled “So You’ve Found Your German Town of Origin … Now What?”

Our April 13, 2010 Program Starting To Fill Up With Participants

Our program was attended by about 10 new participants.  I invited each new participant to introduce themselves to the group and to give us an idea of how new to genealogy they are and to provide us with a few surnames they are researching.  Each new participant was provided an introductory folder of “beginning” material to help them start their “genealogy research engines”.  The number of new participants was also one of the highest we have had attending our program.

I followed the introductions of new participants with a quick review of the “handouts” of genealogical materials that I thought were important to note and to share.  These “handouts” are the new electronic ones that are in the form of a PDF file available from our library’s genealogy blog.  I made note to the audience of some of the upcoming genealogy programs offered by other societies and groups that are local to the area.  Attending programs such as our library program and these other programs can advance the research knowledge of any genealogical researcher.  Anyone can look at or download this material from our blog.  You do not have to be a Schaumburg Township District Library registered member in order to view the material.  I like to expand my own thoughts in these handout write-ups to give you an idea as to why I think a particular one may be of value to the researcher.

Some Of Our 73 Attendees Interact With Each Other Prior To Our Program Start

After I reviewed the handouts, I turned my attention to briefly review items in the Schaumburg Township District Library Genealogy Newsletter.  I will generally provide information in the Newsletter about recent periodicals that we received that focus on genealogy.  I will also provide some summary material on any new genealogical books we may have added to our collection.

The periodical reviews include a listing of the articles in the issue, the author of the article, a small description of the article content if provided by the magazine.  I generally provide an overview of at least two articles that caught my interest that I believe would be of interest to our participants.

The Newsletter is also available to anyone to look at or download from our library’s genealogy blog.

Teresa started her presentation at around 8:10 PM.

It is ironic, sad and not uncommon that many genealogical researchers may actually not discover the town of origin of their ancestors.  So if you happen to discover this piece of history in your research consider yourself lucky!  Cherish this piece of information knowing that it can help you connect the bridge from the United States to whatever point of origin you discover.

Teresa had an outstanding PowerPoint presentation to share with us to show us what you can do if you have discovered your ancestor’s German town of origin.

Teresa Steinkamp McMillin Sharing Some German Genealogy Research Tips

  1. 1.  Find the town on a map or a gazetteer.  One good German oriented resource is the Meyer’s Orts and Verkehrs Lexicon des Deutschen Reichs.   This resource is commonly referred to as Meyer’s.  Also consider using an online resource such as Shtetlseeker at or Kartenmeister at
  2. 2.  What if you can’t find the town on any map?  The reasons for not finding it might be that the transcription of the original document was faulty, the town name may have been written in German script, it may have been documented by an English-speaking person not familiar with the details of the German language, or it might have been translated from another language such as Polish.  In any case, if you are having problems at this stage, go back to look at the original document for a review.
  3. If you are successful finding the town on a map then try to get the records you seek.  Knowing the history of the country and the town as for political divisions is important to know.  Civil records are generally kept by the governmental jurisdictions.  Knowing these jurisdictions is important, but knowing the jurisdictions in the historical time period of your ancestors is even more important.  Consider using the Family History Catalog to see if microfilms exist for the village of your ancestors.  It is important to look in the /Family History Library catalog for the town associated with level of jurisdiction for the village that you research.  So for example, with a village called Kreyenborg, you would want to look at Kreyenborg, as well as Meppen, Bokeloh, Lingen and Osnabruck which are other levels of jurisdiction that pertain to Kreyenborg.  There may be many categories of film types that you can order.  There may be church records or civil records or any other type of category in the possession of the Family History Library.  Become familiar with German word terms by accessing the Resource Aids of the Family History Library online for German researchers.  These can be Word Guides to help you understand key German words you may encounter on the films you review.  You may be lucky to find indexes on the films.  You may be unlucky and find you have to look image by image through an entire film for a town.  Be prepared for ANYTHING!  Some of the data on the film may be easy to read in columnar format.  Some of the data may be written as long paragraphs.  Use the aid to help you interpret what is on the film and how best to interpret what may certainly be a foreign language or foreign format.
  4. Look on the internet for your German town.  It is amazing how many towns themselves have an internet presence.  Just try using a generic URL web address of www.<townname>.de.  Look for any online German telephone books in which you might be able to look for a surname, one that is hopefully not too common.  Try accessing to find German phone numbers.  If you find some names, consider writing a letter.
  5. Good luck and enjoy your search for and in German records!  Your research skills will improve as you search more.  You will begin to know what you are looking for with the help of the Family History Library online aids. 

Teresa Steinkamp McMillin Sharing More Germanic Research Tips to a Very Attentive Audience


  • Dr. E. Uetrecht. Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs- Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs [Meyer’s Directory of Places and Commerce in the German Empire].  1912. Reprint, Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000. Gazetteer showing places of the 1871 German Empire and their governmental jurisdictions.  The Family History Library’s [FHL] cataloging of German places is largely based on this gazetteer.  Written in German and gothic print.
  • Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preussen [Gazetteer for the Kingdom of Prussia].  Berlin: Verlag des Königlichen statistischen Landesamts. 1907-1909. This gazetteer consists of 14 volumes (one for each pre-1919 Prussian Province).  Among other things, it helps to identify to what Catholic and/or Lutheran parish a town belonged.  Written in German and gothic print.  Available at on microfilm through FHL and on indefinite loan at the Wilmette Family History Center [WFHC], Wilmette, Illinois


  • Ernest Thode. German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992.  This book is a must have for reading German records.  Also contains Latin, some French and other languages found in German-speaking lands.
  • Edna M. Bentz. If I Can, You Can Decipher Germanic Records. San Diego, California: Tamara J. Bentz, 2005.  This book has many examples of words written in script, variations of letters in script, lists of occupations and illnesses.


We ended our program at around 9:30 PM.  Teresa stayed for a while answering questions of those that were present.

Her presentation was great!  She really knows her German research methodology!

Thank you Teresa for the great presentation job!

We hope those in attendance left knowing a lot more of what is needed to further their Germanic genealogy research.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Pictures Added to Previous Post That Summarized Our Program Presented on March 9, 2010

Hi Everyone!

You may want to take a look at my previous post in which I summarized events of our March 9, 2010 Genealogy Program.

I just learned a new blogging capability.  I was able to upload JPEG pictures and included them in a post.  It just made more sense for me to edit the previous post and put the pictures in the blog post associated with the program summary.

You may have already visited my post that summarized the March 9, 2010 Genealogy Program.  That was before I added the pictures.  Take another look and see what you think.  I think the pictures look pretty good and the captions for the pictures speak for themselves.

Enjoy the images!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library