Category Archives: Tips

New And Improved “Chicago Ancestors” Website From The Newberry Library

Hi Everyone!

Grace DuMelle, a reference librarian at the Newberry Library, was a recent speaker at our library in a co-hosted program with the Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA).  One of her handouts for her program was a “postcard” type advertisement for the Chicago Ancestors site created by the Newberry Library.

I was able to obtain one of these advertisements for the site and I wanted to share that with you.  Here is a link to view the handout “postcard” advertisement for “Chicago Ancestors”:

Chicago Ancestors “Postcard” Handout Advertisement

The site is fantastic if you have Chicago ancestors, as I do, in your genealogical research.  The website features much about the various local communities in Chicago and is a map interactive process.  The site is very helpful if you know the location where your ancestors lived in Chicago.  You can enter in a street address or street intersections and see what the website can provide to you about those locations and things around that location.

Here is the link for you to try:

New and Improved “Chicago Ancestors” Website Created by the Newberry Library

One of the interesting features you will find in this resource is the “Crime” designation information for the designated area of an address you input.  You can designate the radius of how many miles from your input location that you will see results.  The site will give you information and an exact map location on what major crimes took place within the designated mileage from the address you input and when they occurred e.g “murder/homicide”.  It is eerie information that can connect to the time frame of when your ancestors may have lived nearby and what they would have more than likely been able to read and experience about the event when it occurred.

Another interesting feature included in the results shows you church names that are in the designated radius you select to find material.  This can be very helpful to you to find the churches that your ancestors may have attended.  with a possible church identification that then allows you the option to discover if church records exist for that church that may be connected to the time of your ancestor in the area.

Give the site a try to see what other tidbits of information you can discover that can connect you to the time when your ancestor lived in Chicago at a particular location.

If you don’t know of an address, you can choose from a pre-set list of communities offered within the site e.g. Humboldt Park, West Town, Portage Park etc.

The site also offers an advanced search feature that you can search by “topic”, “community”, “start year”, “end year” and other choices.

It is a fun site to search.  Give it a try.  See what you can discover about events and other things connected to the location your ancestors lived at in the City of Chicago.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


DNA Testing For Genealogy; Look Before You Leap!; Life-Changing Events Can Happen From Your Results; Link To Article Included

Hi Everyone!

I wanted to share with you a link that was sent to me from one of our genealogy program participants.

The link will get you to a lengthy story from the July 27, 2017 Washington Post about how your DNA testing for genealogy can provide you with more mysteries and life-changing possibilities than you ever wanted to discover.

DNA testing for genealogy is the hot thing.  Many of our genealogy programs participants have submitted their DNA for testing, often initially being tested with autosomal DNA analysis.  I have submitted my DNA for such testing and have recently had a wonderful connection to an unknown cousin who is an outstanding genealogical researcher.  Results like this are the really positive side of DNA testing for genealogy.

Check out the link below to get a different perspective on DNA testing for genealogy.  The results are not always what you expect which can be challenging and life changing.  After reading the article I am thankful that my DNA results were completely boring and matched to the assumptions I have carried throughout my whole life.

July 27, 2017 Washington Post Article Titled “She Thought She Was Irish — Until a DNA Test Opened a 100 Year Old Mystery”

I have personally heard the stories of at least 2 individuals whose test results showed that they were not who they thought they were.

You have to be prepared to receive results that will turn your world upside down!

Thank you Francis for sharing the article link with me!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


My Video Interview With The Schaumburg Park District TV Show “Schaumburg Heartbeat” Is Now Available For Viewing; Shared Tips About Beginning Genealogy And Resources Our Library Has For Genealogy

Hi Everyone!

Schaumburg Township District Library

Today, I’d like to inform you about a recent television interview I did on genealogy research using the many resources right here at the Schaumburg Township District Library (STDL). You can view this show in its entirety on the Schaumburg Park District’s cable access station WSPD, if you live in Schaumburg.  The show is also available to EVERYONE on the Internet (Link will be found below).  The show is called “’Schaumburg Heartbeat”- July, 2017, hosted/reported by Burke MacDonald.  On it, I share a lot of tips, insights, and resources to help you with your genealogy efforts including how to begin your search for family history…. or to review the basics for all of you who are seasoned genealogy researchers.

Well, I guess my ship has come in!  No, not the passenger ship of my ancestors, rather just the ship of good fortune to allow me to share with viewers of the video all things about starting your genealogy using resources from the Schaumburg Township District Library.

Normally, “Schaumburg Heartbeat” consists of 3 segments, each maybe running about 10-15 minutes.  The July 2017 edition of the show consists of only one segment, focusing on genealogy for 26 minutes.  It is interesting to note that the show is produced, directed, videoed, and reported by senior citizen volunteers at the Schaumburg Park District. The show is then edited by the Park District’s professional editor.

Just a heads up, in the middle of the video (around 11 minutes and 3 seconds) you will see a quick transition to a 90 second “commercial” of all things related to the Schaumburg Park District.  Our interview then continues to other areas of the library.

Just don’t want you to miss the full video.

Here is the link to this informative genealogy video in which yours truly shares a lot of tips and insights and resources to help you with your genealogy efforts (Click on the blue link or cut and paste into your browser):

Video Interview of Tony Kierna About Genealogy for the Schaumburg Park District July 2017 TV Show “Schaumburg Heartbeat”

Get comfortable.  Have a cup of coffee or tea and see if you want to see me talk for about 25 minutes about genealogy.  (Hope so!)

I would like very much to hear your comments.  Maybe there is another life for me after genealogy.  Either in front of the camera or behind the camera.  This was fun to do and fun to see how it is done!

Tony Kierna (L) Burke MacDonald (R)

A big “thank  you” to Burke MacDonald and what he does as volunteer Segment Producer and Field Reporter for the show.  I think Burke is a fabulous interviewer no matter what the topic is or who he is interviewing.  Also,  big thanks to Jay O’Toole the volunteer videographer for the program who captured all of the on-site video material and interview at our library.     Also want to thank the Schaumburg Park District’s professional editor, Chip Hess, on how he put together the entire finished product and all of the video inserts that appeared during the interview portion of the video …. photos, questions to ask for interviewing relatives, “flyer” of our upcoming programs, crawlers on the bottom noting when our monthly genealogy program takes place etc. and etc.  They all seemed to appear at the best time on the screen.  Video editing is truly an art when it comes to creating a polished product!  I am not even sure what might have been cut out but I am sure there was material that did not make it.   Those editing functions really make the video look great.

I would encourage all of you to take a look at the myriad of “Schaumburg Heartbeat” shows that exists on the Schaumburg Park District Website ( or go to and search on Schaumburg Heartbeat. (Again, click on the blue link or cut and paste into your browser.)

Enjoy the video!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group Of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) Offers DNA Special Interest Group (SIG) On Saturday August 12, 2017

Hi Everyone!

CAGGNI logoHave you submitted your DNA for genealogical analysis?

Are you trying to make sense of the results you received back?

Feel like talking about it but don’t know where to turn?

Just want to make everyone aware that the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) has a DNA special interest group (SIG).

I just received an email from the group indicating that their next meeting will take place on Saturday, August 12, 2017 starting at 10:30 AM at the Schaumburg Township District Library.

Here is the text describing what will take place at this upcoming DNA SIG:


DNA Special Interest Group

CAGGNI’s genomic genealogy group continues into its third year. This group focuses on learning the methods for analyzing DNA test results. We study topics such as autosomal DNA, mitochondrial DNA, Y-DNA and surname projects, X-DNA and ancestral admixture results. We’ll also investigate third-party tools for analyzing your raw data and comparing DNA and gedcom data with test kit results from companies besides the one you tested with.

DNA can break down genealogical brick walls once thought impenetrable – but only if you know how.

The SIG will combine short 15-20 minute lectures with interactive workshop-style activities. 

Get ready to put your DNA results to work for you!

Facilitators:  Al & Michelle Wilson 

For more information: DNA Special Interest Group


Consider connecting with this special interest group local to our area.  You spent good money on your DNA kits.  Why not really learn how to interpret and use your results in a real productive manner.  I am sure your testing company offers automated ways to interpret results through PowerPoint presentations or YouTube videos or maybe even person to person via customer service.  Here is your chance to discuss Genealogy DNA among fellow testers.  Learn about DNA tests that are over and above what you started with and how they can help you even more.

Learn from others, help others.

You can always visit the general website of the CAGGNI group to see what they are all about.  And I can guarantee you they are about many things genealogically speaking, including having this DNA SIG group.  You can visit CAGGNI at:

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois

See how this CAGGNI group can help you with your DNA results.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

My “Field Trip” To Our Local Schaumburg Family History Center (FHC); Viewing Digital Films Designated For Viewing “Only” At A Family History Center

Hi Everyone,

With the recent announcement by FamilySearch that the microfilm ordering process will come to a halt on September 1, 2017, I thought it would be wise of me to take a “field trip” to the local Schaumburg Family History Center (FHC) near our library.

I had not been to the facility in quite a number of  years (sorry to admit that!).  However, I thought it was important for me to make a “field trip” there to better gauge what is related to the discontinuance of microfilm orders and to see what it is like to use their system to gain access to viewing digital data that is not viewable at home yet due to contractual obligations that limit such viewing “only” to a Family History Center (FHC).

So I dusted off all of my cobwebs for not having been recently to a local FHC and recently made the trip one evening last week.

Here is some key information about our local Schaumburg, IL FHC for those of you that may never have visited:

  • Address   –  1320 W. Schaumburg Road, IL 60194, part of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints building.
  • Phone  –  847-885-4130 (Always call in advance to be sure FHC is “open” with volunteers; don’t make a trip and discover they are closed or the volunteer(s) were unable to make it in.
  • FHC is located in the backside of the church building; entrance located there; push buzzer for someone to let you in.
  • Hours staffed by volunteers are Wednesday, 2pm to 9pm, Thursday, 4pm to 9pm, Saturday, 9am to 1pm.  (These hours appear to be significantly less from what I remember them years ago, especially the morning hours.)
  • Web site is
  • Visit the web site above to view a list of the numerous databases the center offers (about 16), most of which are not offered by our library.  They do have Ancestry Library edition (as we do) and also Find My Past, World Vital Records, MyHeritage.  They are more than a microfilm reading room with all of the database access they offer.
  • 4 authorized computers that allow access to the databases above and the digital microfilms available through the FamilySearch website.
  • 6 microfilm readers
  • a microfilm printer (that I was told does not work for making a copy of an actual microfilm image; make sure you bring your smartphone with digital camera to take pictures of records projected on desktop whiteboard from the microfilm you might be using.)
  • Making paper copies of digital images from digital microfilms is FREE.
  • Bring your Flashdrive to download images from the digital microfilms for viewing at home in addition to printing them there.
  • Access to the computers is “first come first serve”; no reservations; call in advance to ask if any computers are open.
  • Don’t forget to sign in on the “Sign-In” sheet.

OK.   So how was my visit??

First things first.  I called in to check they were open.  A volunteer picked up the phone and confirmed they were open.  I went to the facility. Parked in the back. Rang the bell to be buzzed in and nothing happened.  Re-rang over and over. Had to call in to the center again to let them know I was at the back awaiting to be let in.  Finally got in.  Oh well, they were busy helping others inside or they just did not hear the buzzer!  No problem!

Upon entering the FHC room I noticed that much of what I remember there still looked the same except the number of microfilm readers was reduced.  The room looked more open with fewer microfilm readers.

I noticed that two of our genealogy program participants were also busily engaged on the computers.  I guess I had a good influence on them encouraging visits to the FHC, especially now with the availability of the digital microfilms.  However, here is what I see as a developing problem.  The center has 4 computers.  All 4 computers were being used.  If anyone else came in during the time I was there I think they would have been out of luck to use a computer.  More and more access to the digital images is only available in the FHC.  Sounds to me like it is possible the computers will be in very great demand now more than before.  So plan accordingly to use the facility and its resources.

I brought a list with me from the Poznan Marriage Project in Poland that has identified many KIERNA names that have been viewed in the LDS microfilms by Polish volunteers and transcribed into the project.  I calculated what LDS microfilm I needed to view, entered in the town name for the records and saw a list of these films appear.  At home I did receive the message on the screen that viewing the data was only available within the FHC.  I clicked on the film number.  And the data appeared on the screen only in the FHC for me to find a certain marriage record for a certain year based on the Poznan search I did.

My purpose of viewing the image for my great-grandfather and great-grandmother’s marriage record was to see if their parents’ names were mentioned or were they omitted from capturing during transcribing in the Poznan project.  Unfortunately, the Poznan project results were accurate.  There was no name mentioned in the microfilm image of who the parents were for my g-grandparents.  I was disappointed nonetheless.  But at least I knew the data was not there in the original record.

I wound up downloading to my flashdrive at least 5 images of these marriage records that were not available for me to see from home from the digital data where they resided.  I have more clues to analyze but I did not hit a home run or have a “Happy Dance” moment!!

The 2 hours that I was there went by in a flash.  Soon I was out the door with at least some data I previously did not have.

It felt good going to the FHC I had not visited much recently.  I now have a better understanding about the mechanics of how the process works there.

If you have never been to the Schaumburg Family Center, you may want to drop in during the hours I mentioned above to see what they are all about.  Even if you are not using digital microfilm data, check out the databases they have when you visit their web site.  Most of what they have are databases that we do not have at our library.

Happy researching at the Schaumburg FHC!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

FamilySearch Announcement To Discontinue Provisioning Of Microfilms Effective September 1, 2017

Hi Everyone!

By now all of you should have heard of the announcement by FamilySearch that effective September 1, 2017 they will no longer be providing microfilms upon request for your use at a Family History Center (FHC) or to a designated Family History Library Affiliate like a public library that is participating with FamilySearch.

If you have actively been submitting requests for microfilm data then this will dramatically affect you as of September 1, 2017.  If you need to order any new microfilms from FamilySearch that have not yet been digitized you have got to get your requests in for processing NOW.

How do you know if it has been digitized?

You will need to search their catalog, generally by “place name” to find films of interest to you (e.g Wawelno, Bydgoszcz, Poland or Bloomingdale, DuPage, Illinois).  You will look at the catalog entry for the film of interest, click on the links to get you to the most information, look on the right side of the screen where you will see your film number of interest.  If an icon of a “camera” is next to the film number, this means the film is in digital format.  If you see an icon of a “microfilm” this means the film has not yet been digitized and is still available to order as a microfilm before September 1, 2017.

FamilySearch Link To Films Showing Digitized Icon Of “Camera” And Digitized Icon of “Microfilm”

FamilySearch believes that its conversion to digital media has been so successful that it feels comfortable to move forward to discontinue supplying microfilms as of September 1, 2017.  Material that is currently in microfilm format that has been digitized will become accessible via the Family History Center.  In other words, you previously ordered a microfilm and may have had it delivered to a local Family History Center or Affiliate for viewing by yourself.  After September 1, 2017 you will no longer need to order a microfilm if it has already been digitized.  You simply find the film number of interest to you in the FamilySearch online catalog of films and check to see if it has been digitized by seeing if you see an icon for a “camera”.  If yes, and you click on the link for the film number, you may see a screen message that pops up noting that to view the film digitally you will need to go to a Family History Center.



So basically this is no different from what you were doing before needing to go to a Family History Center or Affiliate.

FamilySearch Link To Films Showing Digitized Icon Of “Camera” That Can Only Be Viewed At A Family History Center (4th Digital “Camera” Icon Down) 

However, even with the great progress that has been made by FamilySearch to digitize the films, there will still be a targeted 3 year period until 2020 while FamilySearch finishes digitizing those films that have not yet been completed.

What does this truly mean for you?

It means that if you need a particular microfilm for viewing that has not yet been digitized  (icon of a “microfilm”) and is not available for viewing online at a Family History Center, you can order it now before September 1, 2017 for delivery to a local Family History Center or Affiliate (like a library that is deemed as such e.g. Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Palatine Public Library, Algonquin Public Library and many more in our local area).

If you do not order it before September 1, 2017 then you may simply have to be patient over the next three years awaiting the conversion of that film to digital format for viewing online at a local Family History Center.

I actually found films of interest to me that I can view anywhere online without having to go to a Family History Center.  These films are digital and there are no contractual restrictions for viewing from any location through FamilySearch.

FamilySearch Link To Film Showing Digitized Icon Of “Camera” (Film Viewable Online Anywhere)

I believe FamilySearch will simply transition films that are currently viewable digitally only in a Family History Center to having these films available for viewing through any device without having to go to a Family History Center where contractual obligations allow such viewing from anywhere.

There could still be many digital films that will not be viewable from any location other than a Family History Center.

If you are an “online only” researcher and don’t even know what a FamilySearch microfilm is then there is no affect on your research (just please don’t tell me you are an “only online” researcher!).  You will still be doing your research through whatever subscriptions for online searching you have or free sites you use.

If you are a user of FamilySearch microfilms still, get your final orders in for microfilms before September 1, 2017.

If you are doing online research, make sure you use the FamilySearch online catalog  (FamilySearch Online Catalog) to find locations of interest to you to see what they have available to you that you can still order as a microfilm, view digital data anywhere, or view digital data only through a local Family History Center (not an Affiliate).

Let us hope that much of what is noted for digital viewing today for a good amount of films only at a local Family History Center becomes more readily available for viewing anywhere and not tied in to a local Family History Center.

I will keep all of you informed as future developments occur regarding this major change in the world of FamilySearch microfilms.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library





Handout From July 11, 2017 Ginger Frere “Using Timelines” Program Presentation Available As A PDF In This Post

Hi Everyone!

Ginger Frere

Just want to let you know that Ginger Frere, our genealogy program speaker from our recently held July 11, 2017 program, has given me permission to post her program handout from “Using Timelines to Break Down Brick Walls”.

Thank you Ginger!

For those that were unable to attend last night’s program, you can see what some of the tips are to use timelines in your genealogy research.

Here is the handout:

July 11, 2017 “Using Timelines to Break Down Brick Walls” Program Handout

Enjoy the handout.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library