Category Archives: Tips

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

Hi Everyone!

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

A few cancellations have happened in the 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.  We have had a pretty long run of no cancellations during winter!! (We did have a cancellation in March 2017 because of a water main pipe rupture in our parking lot area that required the entire library to be closed.)

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

It could be that we need to cancel our program but our library could still be open on these dicey nights.  It is not uncommon that many of our speakers come from a distance and bad weather could make it impossible for them to drive to our library to make the presentation while our library would still remain open.

As I write this in mid-December 2017, we have been experiencing some incredibly warm, comfortable weather throughout October and November so far.  Winter is just now starting to make its appearance.  Good enough that you probably do not even think of those nasty, blowing, snowing nights that you know we will get this winter.  I just hope they don’t occur on the 2nd Tuesday evening of the month, the day of our program.

Cross your fingers that good weather karma will be with us on our program nights for December 2017 and  January, February and March of 2018.

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

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


Users Are Experiencing Problems With Heritage Quest From Off-Site Connections To The Library Database

Hi Everyone!

Schaumburg Township District Library

I have been made aware that users who are reaching our genealogy database called Heritage Quest from off-site are experiencing problems with using the database.

You can get into the database but you receive an error message when you actually try to perform a “Search”.

The problem has been referred internally to our staff for analysis and resolution.

We hope to provide a resolution to the off-site Heritage Quest search error soon.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

I will let you know via a blog post here when the problem has been resolved.

Thank you for your patience.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Sales For DNA Products For Genealogy Abound During The Holiday Season; Some Savings Can Be Significant; Keep Your Eyes Open For Sale Opportunities Across All Of The DNA Products Offered

Hi Everyone!

I submitted my DNA for testing for genealogy a couple of years ago.  As a full disclosure, I submitted my DNA with Family Tree DNA.  So my experience with all things DNA for genealogy is through Family Tree DNA at the moment.

Once I submitted my DNA, I did find that Family Tree DNA is on top of their marketing efforts.  I would not say that I am overwhelmed with marketing emails from them but I do know they send just the right volume of reminders to me reminding me of other DNA tests that I have not utilized that I could consider to purchase.

During the various holidays throughout the year, I have received notices to consider other tests to purchase.  It is not even so much to consider the other tests, but Family Tree DNA also includes in their marketing emails consideration to actually purchase a test not for you but for someone else.  Presumably for you to give to a cousin or someone you think is related to you.  I think that is a good idea and broadens their marketing appeal.  However, know in advance that a cousin would accept the test kit and would actually take the test and submit it for analysis.  No sense giving a surprise kit to someone who would never use it.  Maybe you could do a little arm-twisting and tell them how important it would be for you to solve an age-old research problem with their results in the database!

From Thanksgiving and through the Christmas and New Year’s season, you will see much more about sales being held for the various tests.  If you have not yet done your DNA test for genealogy, it is probably worth being aware of the various companies and the various sales going on for each of their “entry” level tests.  It is the “autosomal” test that I consider as the entry-level test and usually the most inexpensive test to take from the variety they offer.  That is the test that I started with.  With Family Tree DNA, it is called “Family Finder”.  The product name can be different with other providers but it should be their version of an “autosomal” test.

As a point of comparison, just a few years ago the entry-level tests were in the $199.  I waited until a sale existed within Family Tree DNA that had the product on sale for $79, down from $99.  Now, some of the companies might be offering this test in the range of $59.

You can really get some great bargains for entry-level tests during the holiday season.  Even their higher end products such as for Mitochondrial DNA or Y-DNA are offered with some big sales.  So if you have taken the entry-level test, you could still save significant dollars on the other DNA test available to you that you have not yet taken.  But be aware, you could save big dollars, but the savings are based on significant costs in the hundreds of dollars for these other products.  And don’t just take a higher end DNA test because it is on sale.  Know that it can help you in possibly giving you other clues to help with your research.

Thought I would at least give you some links to the major companies offering DNA testing so you can see what some of the sales are for your consideration.  Take a look at the following as of today, December 4, 2017.  Sales are not open-ended.  They are often for no more than a week, but they often re-occur while the holidays are still coming up.  Check out:

Family Tree DNA

Ancestry DNA



National Geographic Genome Project

I have no regrets having done an autosomal genealogy DNA test.  I have connected with newly discovered cousins as a result of the test.  It can and probably will happen to you also.  The prices are incredible compared to just those that were offered just a few years ago.  The holiday season offers some of the best prices you will find.

Take the plunge if you have not done so already.  The entry-level prices are really low.  Consider taking advantage of the sales of their other products if you wanted to add another new test over and above the basic one you may have already taken.

The sales will not last forever.  The sale prices now do not automatically become the new price in a few weeks after the holidays.  Check out the sites above for all of what they are offering now and through the next 30 days.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


German Genealogy Podcast From RadioPublic; The German Genealogy Girl’s Podcast With Ursula C. Krause; Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, Professional German Genealogy Specialist, Being Interviewed; Teresa Will Be Our February 13, 2018 Genealogy Program Speaker

Hi Everyone!

I have recently become familiar with a podcast provider known as RadioPublic (  I was checking out what genealogy related podcasts are included in all that is offered.  Wanted to see what kind of variety of podcasts were available by ethnic area of interest.  I used “genealogy” as a search term as well as “family history”.  Some results showed some very active podcast series with lots of podcasts.  Some series had just a few podcasts.

For me as a blogger the nice thing about RadioPublic is that I can directly include the podcast into a post along with the player so that you can play the podcast directly from within my post.  Here is a direct link to the site from which you can search for all kinds of podcasts by subject:

Search RadioPublic Podcasts

Happened to notice there is a fairly new Germanic podcast series that goes under the title series of “The German Genealogy Girl’s Podcast with Ursula C. Krause”.  She has 5 episodes that are all fairly current, the most recent one being November 2, 2017.  This is how Ursula describes what her series focuses on:

“If you are of German descent and love doing research, this is the podcast to listen to! The German Genealogy Girl’s Podcast helps you make the most of your research time, by providing helpful techniques and a deeper insight into German research. Together with her guests from all over the world, Ursula Krause guides you through numerous websites, best practices, German history, pesky German grammar and language and best resources available. Her and her guest’s experience and knowledge will enlighten you and give you tools needed to advance your genealogical search. Join them monthly as they delve into the world of German genealogy.”

I checked out that podcast and happened to notice that the November 2, 2017 podcast included an interview with Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, a well-known professional genealogy researcher from our area who focuses on Germanic research.  Teresa will be our February 13, 2018 genealogy speaker.  She will present a program on that day titled “The Voyages of Our German Immigrants”.

Here is the actual podcast to listen to with the interview of Teresa Steinkamp McMillin.  One suggestion, click on the “+” sign that you see as part of the player first.  This will open up another full window that includes a text description summary of what is on the podcast as well as the player.  You can start listening just by clicking on the start arrow for the player within the full screen.  You can also choose to just start the player below without clicking on the “+” sign.  You just won’t see the text description summary of the program.  Your choice.

For those interested in Germanic research, check out the other 4 podcasts in this series from Ursula Krause.  You can find all of them here at:

The German Genealogy Girl’s Podcasts with Ursula C. Krause

Enjoy RadioPublic and all that you can find at the site searching for podcasts of interest.  There is even an app you can download and install on your phone for even easier mobile listening for either Apple or Android.  Download the app directly from the main website for RadioPublic at

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Podcast From RadioPublic Ties In With Newly Released Poll Question In This Blog; How To Prepare For A Trip To Visit Your Ancestral Area Of Origin

Hi Everyone!

I guess timing is everything in life!

You may have seen that I just recently activated a new Poll question on the right sidebar of this blog.  This new poll questions asks you:

“Have You Gone To Visit Your Ancestral Town/Village Of Origin Outside Of The United States?”

I have also been poking around RadioPublic seeing what kind of podcasts exist.  Lo and behold I noticed another series of genealogy podcasts there in a series called “Ancestral Findings”.  It looks like a very active and current series of podcasts.  I see a total of 153 podcasts with the most recent one having a date published of November 21, 2017 (how current is that since today is November 22, 2017 as I create this blog post).

Quickly, I noticed episode 152 created on November 14, 2017 is titled “How to Get the Most Out of a Trip to Your Ancestral Homeland”.

Again, timing is everything!

I thought I could include that podcast in this blog since it ties in so perfectly with my new poll question.

Right below is the player with this podcast that you can listen to right in the this post.  One suggestion, click on the “+” sign that you see as part of the player first.  This will open up another full window that includes a text description summary of what is on the podcast as well as the player.  You can start listening just by clicking on the start arrow for the player within the full screen.  You can also choose to just start the player below without clicking on the “+” sign.  You just won’t see the text description summary of the program.  Your choice.

Because it looks like the “Ancestral Findings” podcasts are so prolific with many podcasts and also being very active, I want to share the link to get you directly to the long list of 153 episodes for you to peruse the topics covered.  Almost all of the podcasts are in the 5 to 10 minute category for recording length.  I would also like to share the name of the creator of this wonderful series of podcasts, but I have yet to be able to find who it is from either the podcasts or their website or from Facebook.

For now,  here is the link in RadioPublic to get you to the series of “Ancestral Findings” total list of podcasts:

Ancestral Findings Podcasts From Within RadioPublic

You can also access the main website Ancestral Findings at:

Ancestral Findings

So …. you now have a “two-fer”.  Access the poll and submit your response.  Then listen to this podcast on “How to Get the Most Out of a Trip to Your Ancestral Homeland” that ties in directly to the poll question.

Timing is everything.  Efficiency is everything.

Have fun with the above podcast if you are now thinking about making a trip to the land of your ancestors.  Check out all of the others on a variety of genealogical topics from Ancestral Findings that are easily listened to for an under 10 minute commitment of your time.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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

Hi Everyone!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Share your family history stories and research.

Keep an ear open for other family history stories.

Plant those seeds among family members for future help.

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


Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Documenting Your Genealogical Discoveries; 2 Books In Our Collection That Can Help You Understand The Process; 2 Training Videos From Also Included

Hi Everyone,

Our library recently added a new genealogy book to our circulating collection.  It is titled “Mastering Genealogical Documentation”.  The author of the book is Thomas W. Jones.  The book will soon be on our circulating shelves available for you to check out.  The call number of the book is 929.1 JONES, T.  You will be able to find it on the 2nd floor of our library in the area noted by the Call Number.

I mention this additional book because up until now the best known source for genealogical documentation and citations is a book titled “Evidence Explained” by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  We also have that book in our collection.  The call number of this book is 929.3 MILLS, E.  It too is available on the 2nd floor of our library on the circulating shelves in the area indicated by the call number.  “Evidence Explained” has always been known in the genealogical community as the “Bible” for all things related to genealogical documentation.

Both books point out the necessity for documenting your genealogical discoveries whether your discoveries are online, in a desktop/laptop/tablet lineage program or just in a word document or spreadsheet that you have customized for your own research.  Identifying where you found something is critical to show your skills as a researcher as well as to leave a trail of resources that can be followed by other researchers that may follow-up on your discoveries to see if they can replicate what you discovered with the resources you mentioned when cited.

For those of you using a lineage program such as Reunion for a Mac, Legacy Family Tree for Windows, RootsMagic for Windows and other lineage programs for your desktop,or laptop, you will hopefully have discovered the methods within these programs to cite your sources and document your findings.  Once you set up a source citation you will find that it can be easily applied to future discoveries on other ancestors from within the same source.

If all else fails and you do not formally cite your sources, at least find a way to use the extensive notes fields of the lineage programs or your own customized methods of keeping your family history to identify and describe where you found material to advance your discoveries.  Yes it may not look like a perfectly, formally cited source but the descriptive notes you keep will ultimately lead you to be able to create a citation.

Now that just about all of us have smart phones with extensive picture-taking capabilities, think of using your phone to take pictures of the resources where you are making your discoveries when these are in book format.  Take a picture of the book and the first few pages that shows publication year, author, publisher, page where discovery was made etc.  Keep the picture in the lineage program or online with the person it was associated with just like you would include a regular picture of the person or a picture of a birth certificate etc.

At least make yourself aware that we have these resources in our collection for you to check out and apply to your discoveries in your research.  Yes, these books can be very “heavy” with all they are trying to do to encourage you to develop a process for documenting your discoveries.  See for yourself.  Check out one of the books.  Let your lineage program or online family trees show you how to document your discoveries.

Take advantage of any online tutorials or tutorials embedded in your lineage programs or online uploading locations.  Here are a couple of “learning citations” videos from


Perhaps you should look at all of the online family trees you will find in which there is hardly any citing of where materials were found.  These trees are just copied from one family tree to another and the best source or often noted for the material is that it was obtained from another family tree.  That is not a citation!

If you are brand new as a researcher, now is the best time to get in the habit of properly citing and documenting your discoveries.  Once you start it will become second nature to do so for every discovery.

If you are a seasoned researcher review what you have and where you obtained the discovery and start updating little by little your sources.

Enjoy these books.  Give them a try.  I think you will be happy on the guidance they can provide to you.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library