Category Archives: Tips

“What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2013″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a November 2013 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2013″.

The video is an approximate 30 minute production hosted by Crista Cowan of Ancestry.com who provides the viewers with updates on what new things users of Ancestry.com should be aware of.

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • October was National Family History Month.  You can catch up on all of the posts by visiting the Ancestry.com Blog.  Go to Ancestry.com.  Scroll down to bottom of the page.  Find the link for Ancestry.com Blog.  Look on the right sidebar of the blog for a category called “Family History Month” (They are not in alphabetical order, so you will have to scroll down!).  Catch up on the multitude of blog posts and the information and links within each.
  • DNA Ethnicity Estimate Updated
  • Look at the listing of “new” and “updated” databases.  Don’t just focus on the “new” ones because some of the “updated” ones may now contain more information since you previously may have used one.  So if these updated databases previously gave you data, check to see if they have more info for your research.
  • 1921 Canadian Census now available.  Contains about 8.8 million records.
  • California Death Index 1905-1939 now available.  It is an index only.  If there is something from the index of value to you, write down all of the columnar information for the ancestor.  You will not see the image of the actual record.  You can obtain the full record of information from California, but be prepared to capture the pertinent information from the information to provide to California in order to obtain the actual record.
  • Connecticut Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, now available.
  • Ireland Census 1901 and 1911 now available.  You can search within Ancestry.com, but to see the full image you will be taken to the site of the Irish Archives.  The database is noted with the term “Web” before the title to make you aware the data is contained outside of Ancestry.com
  • Georgia World War I Service Records now available.  Can give insights into not only those that registered for the draft, but those that actually served.  If you find an ancestor in the database, make sure you look at a few records before and after the individual because there may be multiple records for individuals.

You can view this video directly here:

Crista does an excellent job of sharing what is new at Ancestry.com that can make your use of the product even more effective and beneficial with your family history research.  She shows you via her computer screen what to look for at the Ancestry.com site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At Ancestry.com” videos on YouTube going back at least until April of 2012.  These series of videos are a great tool to use to review going back in time so you keep current with all that is being offered and added to Ancestry.com.

Here is a simple link to my search in YouTube that will give you this nice list of these videos posted to YouTube that you can do some catching up on to know about all of the new things at Ancestry.com:

“What’s New At Ancestry.com” YouTube Videos

The host does a very good job verbally describing the new additions as well as showing you the new things at Ancestry via screencasting.  That allows you to see her computer screen as she points out the various “new” things you may see at Ancestry.com and where they are located.

Because so many of us use Ancestry.com, either via a personal subscription or by using the Ancestry product at our local libraries, these YouTube videos are quite informative to keep users up to date with new features that take root on Ancestry.com.  The host provides even more depth to the importance of the change and even why it was done.

I think you will enjoy the most recent video above as well as looking at the link above for even more of these videos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Chicago Daily News Photographs Collection Database; 55,000 Chicago Images Dating Between 1902 To 1933

Hi Everyone!

Chicago Daily News Photographic DatabaseOne of my fellow reference librarians at our library made me aware of a nice database that can help genealogy researchers that focus on Chicago ancestral connections.

It is called the Chicago Daily News Photographic Database.  It is part of the Library of Congress American Memory Collection.

Here is a description of what the database is:

This collection comprises over 55,000 images of urban life captured on glass plate negatives between 1902 and 1933 by photographers employed by the Chicago Daily News, then one of Chicago’s leading newspapers. The photographs illustrate the enormous variety of topics and events covered in the newspaper, although only about twenty percent of the images in the collection were published in the newspaper. Most of the photographs were taken in Chicago, Illinois, or in nearby towns, parks, or athletic fields. In addition to many Chicagoans, the images include politicians, actors, and other prominent people who stopped in Chicago during their travels and individual athletes and sports teams who came to Chicago. Also included are photographs illustrating the operations of the Chicago Daily News itself and pictures taken on occasional out-of-town trips by the Daily News’s photographers to important events, such as the inauguration of presidents in Washington, D.C.

Here is a link to get you to the website:

Chicago Daily News Photographic Database; Images Span 1902 To 1933

This is a very nice photographic database from the Chicago Daily News, a former newspaper that was published in Chicago between 1876 to 1978.  Photographs taken during the times of our ancestors can add a lot of meaning to who are ancestors were and how the Chicago area looked to them at the time of the photograph.  Images in the database span from 1902 to 1933.

Just looking at images from the time of your ancestor can give you a better perspective on what they saw at the time and how their world looked to them.

Who knows, you may even find images in the database of your ancestors!

You can do a search of the material using “Keyword” or you can browse by”Subject”or browse by “Name”.

I did look at the database and did a search using a general keyword term of “Polish”.  You can control your search variation terms by using the drop-down menus that can make your search too detailed with controlling terms and may not return hits to you because too many conditions are required to be met.  Keep yours simple initially and then use these “filtering” options if needed.

I received 23 hits on that keyword.  The keyword used may be in the associated title of the image or it may be in the text description of the image.  If it is in the text, I noticed it is highlighted in black in comparison to the other text.

You can view the hits as a list view or as a gallery where the image is in thumbnail format.

It was just nice to see what Polish oriented images were contained in this database.  You can take the same approach for your own ethnic area of genealogy interest.

The subject browsing provides you with a rather large list of subjects that may not be very intuitive.  Just looking at the result of one subject it is identified as “from Alexander, Marjory to Allison, Sam R.”.  I just think you may be better using the keyword approach.

Using the browse by name gives you a “range” to look at.  One example of this is how it shows the following name range such as “from Albright, Adam Emory to Taft, Lorado 1860-1936″.  You click on the range if the name is within that grouping and you will be presented with a more detailed list of all of the names within that range.  The name lists are not that overwhelmingly large in numbers.

This is a nice resource for your possible discovery of Chicago ancestral connections at a specific level or just at a general level of interest.  If not a direct connection to a specific ancestor, then you might simply see what information is contained that could generally apply to the times your ancestor was alive in Chicago.

Give it a try for your Chicago ancestral connections.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“Try-It! Illinois 2013″ Free Database Access Available Through November 30, 2013; Request Log-In ID/Password From Illinois Secretary Of State; Approximately 27 Genealogy And Family History Databases Available To Try

Hi Everyone!

Try It Illinois LogoThe Illinois Secretary of State makes available on an annual basis access to a variety of electronic databases that are available for libraries to add to their collection for a fee.  Trying the databases can give the user feedback as to whether the database is good and useful to that user.

The Illinois Secretary of State calls the trial “Try-It! Illinois 2013″.

The Illinois Secretary of State will provide you with a Log In ID and Password that will allow you to visit the databases and give them a test run to see if there is material of interest to you.  If you find a database of interest that your local library is currently not subscribing to you can then provide your input to that library to see if the database access can be obtained by that library for ongoing use.

You can go to the site where Try-It Illinois 2013 information can be found.  At this site you can also submit a request to obtain a Log In ID and Password that will allow you access to the databases available during the trial.  Here is the site to begin your trial access to a multitude of databases:

Try-It! Illinois 2013

This trial is open to users through November 30, 2013.

Here is a little internal memo I received from our technical librarian describing more about this Try-It Illinois 2013 access:

Welcome to Try-It! Illinois 2013, the fourteenth annual statewide database trial, sponsored by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois State Library. Try-It! Illinois offers the library staffs and users of the more than 5,000 ILLINET* member libraries the opportunity to survey and evaluate a wide variety of electronic resources. Thanks to the partnerships between the Illinois State Library and the participating electronic resource vendors, there is no charge for accessing these databases during Try-It! Illinois.

Once I logged in to the trial, I was able to select the “subject” category and it presented me with a list of subjects one of them being “Genealogy and Family History”.  I think selecting the “subject” category will be your best manner of looking for databases rather than the other categories.  Within that category I saw there was a list of 27 databases that had been categorized with this grouping.  You can select a database of interest that will get you to the provider of the database.  With a few more clicks you will ultimately get yourself to the database to actually try it out.

Many of the databases within this list are databases our library currently subscribes to.  Many of the databases on the surface are named in a manner that would make you wonder how it got categorized as a genealogy type database!  e.g. “Visual Thesaurus”.  But, nonetheless, it is in the list of 27 databases.

You also have access to the hundreds of other databases available during the trial, not just the genealogy databases.  The list of databases will be presented to you in alphabetical order by name (Product).  You can also look at the list by “Company” or “Library Type” or by “Subject” as I did to find the Local History and Genealogy Databases. ( I recommend using the “Subject” method to find databases of interest within a subject category.)

Jeffrey Bockman, our recent genealogy program speaker, had a good portion of his presentation on “Maps” devoted to making the audience aware specifically of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.  It just happens that the Digital Sanborn maps are one of the available databases within this trial for you to use!  You can access this database through November 30, 2013 through Try-It! Illinois 2013.

So just head on out to the Try-It! Illinois link I provided above and submit your request to obtain a Log In ID and Password from the Illinois Secretary of State to begin accessing this multitude of databases, 27 of which are identified as being Genealogy and Family History oriented.

We should give a big “thank you” to Jessie White, the Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian for making this access available for trial on a recurring basis each year for a rather lengthy period.  This trial is open from October 1, 2013 to November 30, 2013.

Check out the databases, especially ones that you have not previously accessed or even knew about.  There are literally hundreds of databases to sample across a myriad of subjects.  You have access to all of these not just the 27 databases categorized as being for Genealogy and Family History.

See what you think.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Keeping Kids Still While Being Photographed Back In Time! How Did They Make The Child Sit Still??; Take A Good Look At The Enclosed PDF Picture!

Hi Everyone!

Reader's Digest May 2013 Mystery Picture; How Is The Infant Being Kept Still For The Photograph?

Reader’s Digest May 2013 Mystery Picture; How Is The Infant Being Kept Still For The Photograph?

Here is a little fun item provided to me by Don G. who regularly attends our monthly genealogy programs at our library.

Photos are an important part of anyone doing genealogical research.  Current digital photos are nice.  Old time Kodak photos are nicer still.  But it is real nice when we encounter in our possession photos that were made in a studio that date back to the pre-1900s.

Families took photos of themselves back then just as we do today, except they often did not have the equipment to take pictures as we do today with our cell phones.  They often needed to go to a photography studio for a sit-down picture that took time to take and required being still.

Tough job to do when you have squirming toddlers!

Don G. let me know that there was a “workaround” back in those days that was employed by mothers to help assist their children be still during these photography session requiring absolute stillness to make the photo a success.

Here is the image given to be by Don G. that he obtained from a recent Reader’s Digest issue from May 2013.

Spoiler alert coming after the link to the picture!  So just go to the picture, don’t read the text after the link,  and see if you can tell what is going on in the picture to help the child be still while the picture is being taken.  Also, try not to read the text that accompanies the picture so you can really try hard to figure it out.  That can be hard to do since the “secret” of the picture is explained in text right there in front of you!

Here is a link to the PDF picture that is larger in size and clearer than what you see at the beginning of this post:

Small Child In Picture Circa 1880s Sitting Still For Picture.  How Was The Child Kept Still?

OK, if you went past the link and just kept reading my post, the secret is going to be let out of the bag and it is called a “spoiler”.

I was amazed to find out from Don G. that the mother is actually covered by the “sheet” in the picture and the child appears to be sitting in the lap of the mother.  So, I guess with Mom so close by, the child was more cooperative during the photo session to produce a blur-free image!

I had never heard of that technique and I thank Don G. for bringing it up and sharing the image with me.

I had seen images from the past when a neck brace was used standing behind people in pictures on which they could rest their head to get perfect stillness.  You often see the base of the support on the floor by their shoes if they were standing for the picture.

But I had never been aware of mothers being covered up masquerading as covered furniture and included in pictures of their children!

If it works then do it that way!

The ingenuity of our ancestors to make something work with the technology they had available to them at the time is just priceless.

Enjoy the picture.

Now, you need to take a look at any old pictures you may have in your possession going back to the pre-1900s that included children or infants or toddlers.  Maybe you have a “masquerading” mother in the picture that you never even noticed.

Have fun!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com October 2013″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a October 2013 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com October 2013″.

The video is an approximate 29 minute production hosted by Crista Cowan of Ancestry.com who provides the viewers with updates on what new things users of Ancestry.com should be aware of.

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • October is National Family History Month
  • Follow the Ancestry.com blog and look for posts from “Ancestry Ann” who is the contributing blogger from Ancestry
  • Upcoming genealogy conferences – Genealogy Event in New York City on November 2, 2013 as well as upcoming Ancestry Day in San Francisco on November 9, 2013
  • Updated free iOS Ancestry.com app to correlate with new iOS 7 released by Apple
  • Global Photo Commenting
  • Ancestry.com acquires FindAGrave.com.  It will remain FREE.
  • New content
  • Massachusetts Vital Records 1901-1980 (about 11 million records)
  • Cuyahoga County Ohio Tax Lists 1819-1869 (about 576,000 records)
  • Birmingham, England Church Records 1538-1937 (about 7 individual databases with a different variety of records and years among them containing about 2.3 million records)
  • Native American records relating to Five Civilized Tribes.  (About 172,000 records.)

You can view this video directly here:

Crista does an excellent job of sharing what is new at Ancestry.com that can make your use of the product even more effective and beneficial with your family history research.  She shows you via her computer screen what to look for at the Ancestry.com site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At Ancestry.com” videos on YouTube going back at least until April of 2012.  These series of videos are a great tool to use to review going back in time so you keep current with all that is being offered and added to Ancestry.com.

Here is a simple link to my search in YouTube that will give you this nice list of these videos posted to YouTube that you can do some catching up on to know about all of the new things at Ancestry.com:

“What’s New At Ancestry.com” YouTube Videos

The host does a very good job verbally describing the new additions as well as showing you the new things at Ancestry via screencasting.  That allows you to see her computer screen as she points out the various “new” things you may see at Ancestry.com and where they are located.

Because so many of us use Ancestry.com, either via a personal subscription or by using the Ancestry product at our local libraries, these YouTube videos are quite informative to keep users up to date with new features that take root on Ancestry.com.  The host provides even more depth to the importance of the change and even why it was done.

I think you will enjoy the most recent video above as well as looking at the link above for even more of these videos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com September 2013″ YouTube Video

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a September 2013 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com September 2013″.

The video is an approximate 14 minute production hosted by Crista Cowan of Ancestry.com who provides the viewers with updates on what new things users of Ancestry.com should be aware of.

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • The return to TV of “Who Do You Think You Are?”
  • Family Tree Maker 2014 – Pre-Sales
  • Category and Exact Search Settings
  • Related content in the image viewer
  • Upcoming genealogy conferences
  • New content – 10.9 million new records
  • London, England Clandestine Marriage Recs
  • Holocaust Records – many new databases with smaller amounts of records per database
  • Nevada Death Index 1980-2012
  • 1921 Census of Canada (Unindexed, images only)
  • England and Wales Non-Conformist Registers, 1567-1970

You can view this video directly here:

Crista does an excellent job of sharing what is new at Ancestry.com that can make your use of the product even more effective and beneficial with your family history research.  She shows you via her computer screen what to look for at the Ancestry.com site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At Ancestry.com” videos on YouTube going back at least until April of 2012.  These series of videos are a great tool to use to review going back in time so you keep current with all that is being offered and added to Ancestry.com.

Here is a simple link to my search in YouTube that will give you this nice list of these videos posted to YouTube that you can do some catching up on to know about all of the new things at Ancestry.com:

“What’s New At Ancestry.com” YouTube Videos

The host does a very good job verbally describing the new additions as well as showing you the new things at Ancestry via screencasting.  That allows you to see her computer screen as she points out the various “new” things you may see at Ancestry.com and where they are located.

Because so many of us use Ancestry.com, either via a personal subscription or by using the Ancestry product at our local libraries, these YouTube videos are quite informative to keep users up to date with new features that take root on Ancestry.com.  The host provides even more depth to the importance of the change and even why it was done.

I think you will enjoy the most recent video above as well as looking at the link above for even more of these videos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Your Ancestor’s Surname Was Not Changed Upon Arrival In The US At Ellis Island; Dick Eastman Has Updated His Writing On The Subject; Link To His Post Included

Hi Everyone!

Ellis Island PhotoIn being the genealogy coordinator at our library, I hear many stories from the people I am providing assistance to as they embark on their genealogy research journey.  I hear many stories from those in attendance at our monthly genealogy program about their ancestors.

One recurring story I often hear mentioned to me from these stories is that researchers like to share with me that the name of their ancestor was changed when they disembarked from the ship that brought them to the United States at Ellis Island!

First, I like to expand their knowledge and prepare them for future research efforts by letting them know that Ellis Island (New York) may be the point of arrival for them but they should be aware it is not the only port of arrival of our ancestors.  There can also be Boston, Philadelphia, Galveston, New Orleans, Baltimore and others.  The port of New York, both Ellis Island and Castle Garden that predated Ellis Island, often accounted for about 50% of the arrivals of our ancestors.

Secondly, I try to politely indicate to them that the likelihood of the name of their ancestor being changed upon arrival is literally zero, especially at Ellis Island.

Family stories are going to be just that.  Researchers need to look at the historical context of the times as to how passengers were documented and processed.

Much of the hype lately in the genealogy community about “name-changing” at Ellis Island stems from a recent episode of the “Genealogy Roadshow” during which one of the hosts/experts seemed to have misspoken and let open the possibility that names were changed when in fact they were not.

Dick Eastman had a very well-written article about the subject of names “not” being changed at Ellis Island and felt the need to review and update this article and re-post it on his blog to allay any confusion of the belief on how frequently ancestors’ names were changed at Ellis Island upon their arrival.

Here is a link to Dick Eastman’s wonderful update on the topic that may make you want to reconsider the stories you may heard about your own ancestors and how their names were changed.

“NO, Family Names Were Not Changed at Ellis Island” By Dick Eastman October 2, 2013

Read his article and the copious amounts of details on the process our immigrant ancestors underwent as they left their country and arrived at Ellis Island.

You may want to reconsider your stories passed down to you as an example that they may not necessarily be true or they may have been embellished over the time that the story has a life of its own independent of the facts surrounding it.

Oh well, the story was good while it lasted!

Now, “just the facts ma’m”!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District LIbrary

Steve Szabados Has Authored Another Genealogy Help Book; The Title Is “Polish Genealogy: Four Steps to Success”; Available At Amazon.com

Hi Everyone!

Steve Szabados

Steve Szabados

Steve Szabados, a recurring genealogy program presenter at our library, has informed me that he has another new genealogy help book that has been published.

This book is focused on tips and guides to make your Polish genealogy research more productive.  The title of the book is “Polish Genealogy: Four Steps to Success”.

I plan on adding this book to our library’s circulating collection so it can be checked out.

Steve is an avid Polish genealogy researcher and wants to share his successes with others doing Polish research.  His new book focuses on how to go about making your Polish research more successful.

Steve informs me the book is available through Amazon.com.  Here is a link to Amazon.com providing information about Steve’s new book:

Steve Szabados Newly Published Genealogy Help Book; “Polish Genealogy: Four Steps To Success” At Amazon.com

Steve also offers personal help to those doing Polish genealogical research through his volunteer efforts at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.  Steve is there on each Friday morning from 9 AM to 12 Noon.

Not only can you advance your Polish genealogy research through the words of Steve’s new book, but you can also work with him face-to-face when he volunteers at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library on each Friday from 9 AM to 12 Noon!!

Steve knows his stuff about all things “genealogy”.  He also knows his stuff about “Polish genealogy”.

Break through your Polish genealogy brick walls with a little bit of help from Steve!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

New Episode Of “Genealogy Roadshow” On Your Local PBS Station Tonight; Nice Review Of The First Episode Of “Genealogy Roadshow” Provided By Dick Eastman

Hi Everyone!

Genealogy Roadshow PBS LogoJust a reminder that the second installment of “Genealogy Roadshow” will air tonight, Monday, September 30, 2013, on your local PBS stations.  For those of you local to the Chicago area that means you will be able to see the show on WTTW tonight at 9 PM Chicago time.  The show runs for 1 hour.

The very first show aired last week and originated in Nashville, TN.  Only 4 episodes are currently on tap to air for the brand new series this season.

Tonight’s show was made in Detroit, MI.

Make a note of the time of the show tonight if you want to watch it in its live broadcast slot.  If you miss it or want to watch it later, you can view it from the national PBS website when it becomes available:

Genealogy Roadshow From PBS

According to the buzz from Dick Eastman’s blog, it appears the show has a “Thumbs Up!” and is worth watching.  Here is a link to Dick Eastman’s blog post in which he provides his views and opinions on the first show that was aired:

Dick Eastman Blog Post With His Review And Opinion About The Premier Episode Of “Genealogy Roadshow”

I would especially take a look at the very long list of thoughtful comments left on Dick Eastman’s blog post about the show in the above link.  You can really get a better feel of the show from these comments as well as from Dick’s original post.

See what you think about the show yourself.

It is different from “Who Do You Think You Are?”!

Give it a try either in watching when it broadcasts tonight or take a look at the past episode from the above PBS link in case you miss the original airing tonight.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Our Electronic Reference Product (ERP) Computers Behind The “Ask Us” Desk On The 2nd Floor Now Allow You To Access FamilySearch

Hi Everyone!

STDL ImageWe have made another change to make your genealogy research a little easier, especially if you are not bringing in your own laptop or tablet computer that you would connect to our internal WiFi system.

Our library offers for in-house use only the Ancestry Library Edition product.  You can access this genealogy research database from Ancestry on our Electronic Reference Product (ERP) computers that are in the area behind the “Ask Us” desk on the 2nd floor.  “Ask Us” was formerly known as the Reference Desk in days past!

These computers allow you to access a variety of electronic databases that our library offers.  These computers are not set up for general internet access and will allow the user to access only within the confines of the electronic product.  So if you wanted to search Ancestry Library Edition you could do so at these computers.  If while using Ancestry Library Edition you wanted to switch over and access FamilySearch you would have discovered that you could not because FamilySearch is not a purchasable electronic database and was just considered as trying to access the internet in general.  Our library has an entire different area on the 2nd floor dedicated to those that want general access to the internet.

We have now made this a little easier for your genealogy research to now allow you to access FamilySearch from these ERP computers in addition to allow you to normally access Ancestry Library Edition.  Just enter in the URL for FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org)  within the Browser you are using (either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox) on the ERP computer.  You will be taken to FamilySearch and can begin your searching of FamilySearch material from the ERP computers.

You will still not be able to use these computers for just general internet access.  We still have a separate area on the 2nd floor to use the internet.

But at least now you can combine your genealogy searching using two key resources all from the same ERP computer.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library