Category Archives: Tips

Interview Questions To Ask Of Older Relatives To Capture Your Family History Stories

Hi Everyone!

While just doing some general searching in my effort to help someone in their research, I did come across what I think is a very nice short and simple list of questions to ask of your living relatives to capture genealogical information.

The questions were put together by FindMyPast.  Big thanks to them for putting together a very good list of questions to ask of your older relatives.  Found it on their website.  The link is a little further down in this post.

Why is this important?

If we start asking our living relatives just general questions off the top of our head, we may discover that there were better questions we could have asked.  Sometimes you only get one chance to ask these questions.  It helps if you have a pre-set list of questions to elicit helpful genealogy material.

Another thing we may tend to do (I am guilty of this!) is to start with a question and then we segue into an unplanned series of questions from the responses we are hearing the person provide.  And we just go deeper down the rabbit hole while we realize we did not ask the questions on our list and time has run out.  Maybe we will be lucky to ask our relative the missed questions at another time.  Maybe not!

The questions on the list are very thoughtful and planned to get the most from the responder to help us pursue various aspects of genealogy research e.g Did you have a family that lived close?.  Such a question can expand your research possibilities if you hear about siblings of the responder or parents of the responder that lived close by.  Now you know who they are and can tie them to a specific geographic area.  Another question such as “Is there a naming tradition in the family?”  may allow us to know of a pattern where the firstborn son is named after the paternal grandfather to discover as we do our research.

Having a list of questions will simply keep you focused and not rambling.  Provide questions for which you would like responses in advance of your get-together so the person has had time to think them through.  Having them write responses would even be better but if not that is where you will capture the information via your interview.

Don’t think of doing all of the questions in one setting.  It will exhaust them to the point the responses will not be very good or well thought out.  You will get exhausted thinking you have to go through all of these items quickly.

Take a look at the list.  Consider using these yourself.

Here is the link I found online:

Questions To Use To Interview An Older Relative

Don’t use questions off the top of your head.  You will not obtain the best results. Use a list of questions.  Get the most out of what might be a one time only chance to obtain information from an older relative.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Irish Genealogy Webinars From Fountaindale Public Library March 15-16, 2017 Program At Fountaindale Public Library In Bolingbrook; Videos Only Available Until June 15-16, 2017; About 11 Hours Of Video Material Available; Links To Programs And Handouts Included

Hi Everyone!

Fountaindale LogoDebra Dudek, a previous genealogy speaker at our own  past April 12, 2016 genealogy program and librarian at the Fountaindale Public Library, has made me aware that there was a wonderful 2-day Irish Genealogy Webinar that was put together by the Fountaindale Public Library of Bolingbrook and the  Ulster Historical Foundation.

Ulster Historical Foundation LogoThe program occurred on March 15, 2017 and March 16, 2017.  There was a series of 11 Irish Genealogy Programs presented by members of the Ulster Historical Foundation at the Fountaindale Library over the two days.  The 11 programs were recorded and were initially live streamed on the day of the presentation.  The 11 recorded programs are available for viewing BUT ONLY UNTIL JUNE 15-16, 2017.

The 11 recorded programs provide about 10 hours of video viewing.

Just as important is the fact that a full set of downloadable handouts from these 10 programs is also available for you to access up until June 15-16, 2017.  You can access these handouts here:

Downloadable Handouts for Two-Day Irish Genealogy Workshop 2017
 (Available In Person At Workshop)
timeline-for-the-plantation-of-ulster (Available In Person At Workshop)

Here are the titles of these 11 programs:

  • March 15, 2017 Session 1 – (2 programs) Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research, Irish Education and School Records
  • March 15, 2017 Session 2 – Gravestone Inscriptions and Newspapers as Sources for Irish Research
  • March 15, 2017 Session  3 – (2 programs) Sources Available for Irish Research by County, Introduction to Archives in Ireland
  • March 15, 2017 Session 4 – Using the Registry of Deeds and a Short Introduction to Irish Wills
  • March 16, 2017 Session 1 – The Great Famine in Ireland, 1845-51: A Brief Historical Overview
  • March 16, 2017 Session 2 – (2 programs) Emigration from Ireland to North America: An Overview, The Great Famine in Ireland: Sources for Research, Part 1
  • March 16, 2017 Session 3 (2 programs) The Great Famine in Ireland: Sources for Research, Part 2, Emigration from Ireland to North America: Strategies for Researching Emigrant Ancestors

You can connect to all these programs via the Fountaindale Public Library  Genealogy Blog at:

March 15-16, 2017 Irish Genealogy Webinar Videos from the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook, IL

If you have Irish ancestors here is a chance within a short timeframe to view these presentations from members of the Ulster Historical Foundation.  Remember, they are only available for viewing until June 15-16, 2017.

Enjoy the videos while they last!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

April 22, 2017 (Saturday) Computer Assisted Genealogy Group Of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) Program At The Schaumburg Township District Library; “Getting The Most Out Of The Allen County Public Library Road Trip” Presented By Sandra Trapp

Hi Everyone!

CAGGNI logoJust wanted to let you know that the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) will be having a special program at our library on Saturday, April 22, 2017 starting at 10:30 AM that is connected to the group having an upcoming “road trip” to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN.

The program is open to all, those that will be taking the road trip as well as those that may just want to learn more about the Allen County Public Library that will not be making the trip.

The title of the program is “Getting the Most Out of the Allen County Public Library Road Trip”.  Speaker for the program is Sandra Trapp, a member of the CAGGNI organization.

The “road trip” itself will take place from June 15, 2017 to June 17, 2017.  See the link below to the CAGGNI website for details about this trip.

Program description is:

Allen County Public Library is the 2nd largest genealogical library in the U.S. and has a multitude of research resources for both the U.S. and some other countries.  The Program will include a review of what the Genealogy Center has to offer and how to prepare for your visit so you can make the most of your research time. 

Even if you are not joining the Road Trip, but want to learn more about the resources at Allen County, do join us for the workshop.

Speaker information is:

Sandra Trapp has been researching her family, her husband’s, son-in-law’s, and friends’ families for almost 20 years.  She has provided genealogy programs for local organizations and libraries and has been the resource chairman for the Naperville Family History Center since 2000.  Her areas of interest include England, Italy, and some New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern states. 

Here is a link to the CAGGNI website that provides information of the upcoming trip to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN that will take place from June 15, 2017 to June 17, 2017:

Information About CAGGNI Allen County Public Library Road Trip June 15-17, 2017

Find out more about the CAGGNI group and all that they do.  Visit them at their website at:

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI)

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Historical Census Instructions For Enumerators; These May Help You Better Understand Your Own Ancestral Responses To Various Census Questions

Hi Everyone!

I recently had a question posed to me about some notes that were observed on some older census ledger sheets.  Sometimes these notes were not placed on the ledger sheets by the original census taker.  They may have been placed on the ledger sheets by other governmental agencies well after the original creations.  Such “add-ons” using the census ledgers may have been related to “proof” of age for Social Security applications or even for verification of passenger arrival  information.  You always have to take what is on the census ledgers with a grain of salt because these were not legal documents.  In our own research I am sure you have found many instances when a woman’s age seems to decrease over time in the reported census information over time!

The question did make me do some thinking on the instructions that a census taker had to follow when filling in the blanks in the census ledger sheets.  I did come across a nice website from the United States Census Bureau in which they make available PDF copies of these various instructions for a census taker.

Census Instructions for Various United States Census Enumerations

Unfortunately, many of these instructions are not available at this site in PDF format.  Here are the ones worth having with your research should you encounter unusual markings on your ancestors’  census ledgers.  These handy PDF census taker guides can shed light on something you see unusual on a census return.  Even if not unusual, sometimes it helps to understand how a census taker may have interpreted something said by ancestor of yours.

Here are the census instructions you can find in PDF format within the link above:

  • 1790
  • 1850
  • 1860
  • 1870
  • 1890
  • 1900
  • 1910
  • 1920
  • 1930
  • 1940
  • 1950
  • 1980
  • 1990
  • 2000
  • 2010

Following in “italics” are some rather stern directions noted in the 1870 census enumerator directions:


Assistant Marshals will begin the enumeration of their subdivisions, June I, and continue it without interruption till the work is complete. Intermission of work will be sufficient cause for removal.

Sheets must never be folded, either in the course of enumeration, or in transmission to Marshals, or to the Census Office.

When the Census Office is put to trouble and expense, by having to obtain through subsequent correspondence the answers to these questions, the cost of clerk hire and correspondence to the Department will be estimated, and deduction will be made for work not done.

The tenth section of the act of May 23, 1850, requires that the Assistant Marshal shall make the enumeration by actual inquiry at every dwelling-house, or by personal inquiry of the head of every family, and not otherwise. The duty cannot be performed by deputy or proxy. General publication will be made of the fact, so that citizens may know their rights, and resent unauthorized intrusion or inquiry. ,When persons properly subject to enumeration refuse to give information in the particulars required, they will be admonished of their liability under the provisions of the fifteenth section of the act of May 23, 1850. Assistant Marshals will, however, make as little show as possible of authority. They will approach every individual in a conciliatory manner; respect the prejudices of all; adapt their inquiries to the comprehension of foreigners and persons of limited education; and strive in every way to relieve the performance of their duties from the appearance of obtrusiveness. Anything like an overbearing disposition should be an absolute disqualification for the position.


I think it is even interesting to browse through some of the more recent instructions.  Our most recent censuses have been done through the mail with a follow-up done by an actual census enumerator if no response was provided or if the census bureau needed to just check things out.  The days of face-to-face enumerator/person are long gone.  As researchers, I think we always enjoyed looking at such long ledger census returns with unique questions over each of the censuses.

Researchers of the future may not have much “meat on the bones” when they will be researching an ancestor on a 2000 census return in the year 2072 (long after I am gone!).  The questions were few, simple and basic from what I remember.  I wonder if future researchers will be able to see digital images of original responses provided by us??  I don’t think they would see any handwriting on these returns since we just bubble filled in our responses to the questions.

Perhaps you have census ledgers for ancestors that you need a better understanding of a response they made.  Check out how the enumerator was supposed to handle the census questions and see if they might have made some kind of special notes for an ancestral response that may not have matched with how an enumerator was to handle it.

Consider including the above PDF files with your own research when it comes to the census.  You will at least have some paper trial to help you understand the replies of your ancestors on these various census ledger forms.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group Of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) Offers A Family Tree Maker Special Interest Group (SIG); Group Is Meeting At The Schaumburg Township District Library On Saturday April 22, 2017 From 12:45 PM To 2:30 PM

Hi Everyone!

CAGGNI announced in December 2015 that it will be “retiring” their lineage software program Family Tree Maker.  If you are a user of the product you may be uncertain how that decision does or does not affect you as a user of Family Tree Maker.  Software MacKiev has purchased the product line from and will be supporting and developing the product further into the future.

Perhaps the Family Tree Maker Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) can be of immense assistance to you.  The CAGGNI group has had a Family Tree Maker SIG for quite some time.  Perhaps you did not take advantage of this resource in the past.  Perhaps now would be the time if you are in a state of confusion on all things related to Family Tree Maker lineage software.

The Family Tree Maker SIG of CAGGNI is having their next meeting on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at our own library, the Schaumburg Township District Library located at 130 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg,IL.  They will be meeting between 12:45 PM to 2:30 PM.

You can see details of this event in the CAGGNI Calendar of Events at:

April 22, 2017 Family Tree Maker Special Interest Group of CAGGNI Meeting at the Schaumburg Township District Library

You do not have to be a member of CAGGNI in order to attend.  I am sure if you attended and were not a member you may very well think of becoming a member of this wonderful genealogical organization.

You can also check out the CAGGNI group website itself at:

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI)

Let the Family Tree Maker Special Interest Group of CAGGNI make some sense of the “retirement” of Family Tree Maker for you as a current user of the product.   Software MacKiev has purchased Family Tree Maker from and will be the new developer of the product.  Family Tree Maker is still alive and kicking under a new owner and developer.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

New Episode Of “Who Do You Think You Are?” On Sunday Evening, April 16, 2017, At 9 PM Central Time On TLC; John Stamos Is The Featured “Star” Of The Research

Hi Everyone!

Who Do You Think You Are?I just want to let you know that a new episode for “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be airing on the cable channel TLC on Sunday evening, April 16, 2017, at 9 PM Central time.

The new episode for this new season will feature actor John Stamos.

Previously, when the show was on NBC, they dedicated a portion of their website to the show so that you could always get updates on the show.  TLC appears to be doing the same for this show as it unfolds during this season.  You can find the information for the show on TLC at:

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Website At TLC

Six episodes of the new season have already aired on TLC.  The first episode featured Courtney Cox.  The second episode featured Julie Bowen.  The third episode featured Jennifer Grey.  The fourth was Noah Wylie.  The fifth was Jessica Biel.  The sixth episode was Smokey Robinson.

TLC is actually making available a few of the previously aired shows in their full run time at the TLC site.  So you can actually watch some full episodes without having to go to iTunes to make purchases of previously aired shows.

You can see these first six episodes of the new season on TLC.  Check out the site for “Who Do You Think You Are?” above.

Make sure you mark down the date and time and plan to watch the “new” episode in its original airing rather than at a later time if you can.  (Ratings are important for continuity of this wonderful show!)

Now is the time to get the buzz going and to reconnect with some TV help and entertainment to motivate you in your own genealogical research efforts.

Mark your calendar for Sunday evening, April 16, 2017 at 9 PM Central Time on TLC on cable and see what has been discovered about actor John Stamos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group Of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) Will Be Offering A Special Interest Group (SIG) For Apple Mac Users That Use “Reunion” As Their Lineage Program; Saturday, April 15, 2017, From 12:45 PM To 2:30 PM At The Schaumburg Township District Library

Hi Everyone!

I just received an email notice from the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) that the next meeting of the  Reunion (Mac Lineage Software) Special Interest Group (SIG) is coming up soon.

The meeting of this SIG group will take place on Saturday, April 15, 2017, between 12:45 PM to 2:30 PM at our library, the Schaumburg Township District Library located at 130 S. Roselle Road in Schaumburg, IL.  Our library is located in the Town Square complex at the intersection of Roselle Road and Schaumburg Road.

All are welcome to attend.

Bruce Christopher of the CAGGNI group will be acting as facilitator for the group.

Here is a description of the program from the CAGGNI email:

Reunion Special Interest Group

Calling all Apple users!  Reunion is a genealogy software designed specifically for Macintosh and also available as an app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.  Learn the tips and tricks that will have you utilizing this highly regarded program to its fullest.

If you have a laptop, please bring it with you. Learning software is enhanced in a hands-on environment.

Facilitator:  Bruce Christopher

Mac users using Reunion, now is your chance to really learn a lot more about your own program from others that are also using the product.  Maybe you are already a good user of the product.  Consider sharing your skills with others using the Mac system and Reunion.

More and more computer users have been switching over to Apple products over the last few years and this includes the desktop/laptop machines as well as mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Mark your calendars for this great opportunity to really become more skilled at using an incredibly well-rated lineage product on your Macintosh.

Check out more about the CAGGNI organization itself and all that it offers.  Keep in touch with them at their website at:

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI)

Enjoy the program.

Enjoy the organization.

Enjoy your software even more than you already do!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library