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.

It 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 late November 2015, we have just been hammered with an 11 inch heavy wet storm that took place on November 21-22, 2015.  What a way to start our winter!!  However, it looks like the weather is going to turn warm the balance of this week for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.  We might see temperatures back in the 50’s with rain on Thanksgiving.

Cross your fingers that good weather karma will be with us on our program nights for December 2015 and  January, February and March of 2016.

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

Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) Has Schedule Of Offered Webinars For 2016 At Their Site; Great Way To Learn More About Genealogy

Hi Everyone!

Webinars Clip ArtI just came across the 2016 schedule of Webinar classes being offered by the Illinois State Genealogical Society.

Webinars are a fantastic way to hone your genealogical research skills by hearing about a topic of interest from a well-known genealogist about the topic.

The Webinars are all being offered on the 2nd Tuesday night of the week starting at 8 PM Central Time.  (Just a side note – The 2nd Tuesday evening of the month is our own monthly scheduled genealogy program at the Schaumburg Township District Library!  Make your choice, I know you will choose wisely!)

The topics on the schedule for 2016 look fascinating with some great presenters being offered through the year.

You do need to register in order to participate.  The Webinars are open to theISGS Logopublic.  You do not need to be a member of the ISGS in order to register or participate for the live Webinar.  As a benefit for members of the ISGS, they can then go into the archive vault to take a look at past Webinars.  Non-members of the ISGS can register for the “live” presentation but cannot go in to the archives to look at the past Webinars.

Here is a link to a PDF from the ISGS where you can look at the scheduled Webinars for 2016 as well as see a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” that pertains to the Webinars:

2016 Webinars Being Offered By The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS)

It is really nice being able to view webinars that are in an archives.  But as you can see, you may want to become a member of ISGS just to be able to access these wonderful learning exercises to increase your genealogy research skills.

Check out the topics on the above schedule.  There may be some that are just perfect for you.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2015” YouTube Video; You Can View The Video In This Blog Post

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a November 2015 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2015”.

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.

Crista also mentions that in addition to the monthly YouTube video she creates describing “new” things at Ancestry.com for a particular month the reader should always check the blog from Ancestry.com that you can access at:

Ancestry.com Blog

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • Upcoming Conferences – Salt Lake Institute, January 10 to 15, 2016 at Salt Lake City, UT., infouga.org; RootsTech 2016, February 3-5, 2016 at Salt Lake City, UT; National Genealogical Society Annual Conference, May 2016, at Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Southern California Jamboree, June, 2016, Burbank, CA; IAJGS Conference, August 2016, Seattle, WA; Federation of Genealogy Societies, August 2016, Springfield, IL.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Ancestry.com new website available to all subscribers in the United States and is being phased in to other country subscribers such as Canada and Australia.  Visit the blog post at Announcing the New Ancestry WebsiteScroll down and look for the “Try the new site Click Here” phrase.  Once there you will need to be a subscriber to Ancestry.com  If you  enter in your information you will get connected to the new site for you to experiment with.   Crista mentioned that Ancestry is very appreciative of all of the feedback being provided to Ancestry from Beta users.  Look for a list of “updates” in progress appearing in the “Community Forum” that is located under the HELP menu.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Crista noted that in the New Ancestry that you can now print from your profile page under the Tools tab; save media now lists the dates associated with a person so you can more properly select the correct person; click on profile image to add a photo, you can edit it and do other things such as resize; use one picture to upload it and then use it multiple times rather than needing to upload it multiple times for multiple use.
  • New Databases – check out all of the new Mexican Church Records and Civil Records that are identified by the geographic area of Mexico.  There are about 250 million of these records.  They are available to use if you have an Ancestry World Subscription (or we have them as part of our Ancestry Library Edition subscription).  Open up the Ancestry catalog and select the view of the databases under most recently added.  Use “Mexico” as your search term.  You will see about 5 to 6 pages of these Mexican Church Records.
  • Databases in General – Crista also mentioned that you may see databases within the Card Catalog that are prefaced with “Web”.  These are databases that are outside of Ancestry.com.  If you click on the link, you will be leaving the Ancestry site to access the material.
  • Databases in General – Crista also mentioned to use the right sidebar area of the screen when you have selected a particular database to search.  Here you will see “Related Data Collections” that notes names of other databases that could be helpful to you and may be related in a way to the database you are using.
  • Databases in General – Crista also mentioned that you may see databases that just note the database is an “Index”.  This means the original data has been transcribed from an original source but you will not have access to the original image of the document itself.  She suggested that if you find material in these Indexed databases, you may want to contact the source for the original records used to create the index and try to obtain an image of the original record associated with your indexed result.  There could be more in the original data that was not moved into the indexed file, plus you could also uncover transcription errors between the original record and the created indexed record.
  • Research Reminders #1 – Read the complete database descriptions for the newly added material to know what is contained and what is NOT contained.  Don’t just search!
  • Research Reminder #2 – Understand the records you are looking at when you are searching a newly added database.  Knowing what is there will help you create better search terms for better results.  Just create a “test” input search to see the results.
  • Crista spent a good time on this video noting that it is important to consider “browsing” records rather than always searching indexed databases.  Browsing databases are those that have not yet been indexed.  You cannot search these but the data as images is available for you to look through.  The data is generally subdivided into manageable viewing components.  Think of it as viewing a microfilm online.  Look at an individual database via the “Card Catalog” and look to see if it has a “Browse Box” that allows you to look at the data but not be able yet to search it.  The “browse box” implies the data is not yet indexed for direct searching.

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

National Archives Of The United States Presented A Virtual Genealogy Fair On October 21-22, 2015; Approximately 9 Hours Of YouTube Videos Of The Programs Presented; Presentation Slides And Handouts Available; Link To Online Material In This Post; Access Previous Fairs Information From 2005 To 2014

Hi Everyone!

National Archives LogoOne of my librarian colleagues and participants at our program made me aware that the National Archives of the United States just recently held a 2 day Virtual Genealogy Fair.  The fair was just held on October 21, 2015 and October 22, 2015.

Thank you Celeste!

Did you miss it?

Yep, me too!

However, we have a chance to see what this was all about by taking a look at the material that was uploaded to YouTube by the National Archives.

Are you ready for this?  You can view Day 1 and Day 2 proceedings of the presentations online at YouTube.  Day 1 YouTube material is about 4 hours and 30 minutes.  Day 2 proceedings of the event on YouTube are about 5 hours.

Pretty lengthy?  Yep!

Presentation topics for Day 1 were:

  • “Introduction to Genealogy at the National Archives” presented by Claire Kluskens
  • “Preserving Your Family Records: Conversation and Questions” presented by Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler
  • “Personnel Records of the National Archives – St. Louis” presented by Bryan K. McGraw
  • “It’s in the Cards: Finding Family Members in National Archives–St. Louis’ Card Series”  presented by Daria Labinsky & David Hardin
  • “Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Personnel Records”  presented by Ashley Mattingly

Presentation topics for Day 2:

  • “Where’d They Go? Finding Ancestral Migration Routes”  presented by Jean Nudd
  • “Access to Archival Databases (AAD): Looking Down, From Above, to Look it Up!” presented by John LeGloahec
  • “Finding Your World War I Veteran at the National Archives at St. Louis” presented by Theresa Fitzgerald
  • “Women in War Time Civilian Government Employment” presented by Cara Moore
  • “Broke, But Not Out of Luck: Exploring Bankruptcy Records for Genealogy Research” presented by Jessica Hopkins

Take a look at the program guide at the following link that identifies what each presentation is.  Within each description you will be able to access the slides of the presentation as well as any handouts that accompanied the presentation.

Here is the link:

October 21-22, 2015, National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair Program Guide

Within the program guide you will see the links that will get you to the actual online YouTube videos of Day 1 and Day 2 of the event plus the program description and links to the handouts and slides of the program.

The National Archives did a great job in including so much in the summary sheet of the program you will see within the link above.

If a program interests you just move the slider for the video forward to try to find where the program approximately starts.  Each program should be about 1 hour.  You do not have to patiently view the video waiting for your program of interest to start.

All of this is especially helpful if you will be focusing on researching materials held by the National Archives of the United States.

The National Archives also makes available access to the previously held Virtual Genealogy Fairs it has presented.  You can find those at the following link where you just need to scroll down the page to the end to gain access to online material for the fairs going back to 2005:

National Archives of the United States Virtual Genealogy Fairs 2005-2015

Congratulations to the National Archives for putting on such a large-scale 2-day program.  Thanks to the National Archives for making all of this material available to the researcher to allow them to get a better understanding of how to use the National Archives to assist them in their research.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com October 2015” YouTube Video; You Can View The Video In This Blog Post

Hi Everyone!

ancestry-logoI just did a quick look at YouTube and saw that there is now a October 2015 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com October 2015”.

The video is an approximate 31 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.

Crista also mentions that in addition to the monthly YouTube video she creates describing “new” things at Ancestry.com for a particular month the reader should always check the blog from Ancestry.com that you can access at:

Ancestry.com Blog

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • Upcoming Conferences – Ancestry Days, November 7, 2015, Raleigh, NC; Salt Lake Institute, January 10 to 15, 2016 at Salt Lake City, UT., infouga.org; RootsTech 2016, February 2016 at Salt Lake City, UT; National Genealogical Society Annual Conference, May 2016, at Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Southern California Jamboree, June, 2016, Burbank, CA; IAJGS Conference, August 2016, Seattle, WA; Federation of Genealogy Societies, August 2016, Springfield, IL.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Ancestry.com new website available to all subscribers in the United States and is being phased in to other country subscribers such as Canada and Australia.  Visit the blog post at Announcing the New Ancestry WebsiteScroll down and look for the “Try the new site Click Here” phrase.  Once there you will need to be a subscriber to Ancestry.com  If you  enter in your information you will get connected to the new site for you to experiment with.   Crista mentioned that Ancestry is very appreciative of all of the feedback being provided to Ancestry from Beta users.  Look for a list of “updates” in progress appearing in the “Community Forum” that is located under the HELP menu.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Crista noted that in the New Ancestry that you can now show all of your events in the Life Story rather than just key default ones previously allowed.  She also noted that some of the areas where you could “Hover” your cursor over to to see a popup of further information may no longer be available like that.  You will have to “click” on the record to open up a further list of choices to select from.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Share your EthnicityReport in Ancestry DNA.  This could spark interest in those you share it with that may lead them to want to do their own DNA submission to Ancestry DNA.
  • New Databases – check out all of the new Wills and Probate databases that have been added.  There is not just one massive database containing all of this.  Generally, you will see these on a state-by-state basis.  Search the “card catalog” with something like a state name and “wills”.  This should discover a “wills” database or “probate” database for that state.
  • Databases in General – Crista also mentioned that you may see databases within the Card Catalog that are prefaced with “Web”.  These are databases that are outside of Ancestry.com.  If you click on the link, you will be leaving the Ancestry site to access the material.
  • Databases in General – Crista also mentioned to use the right sidebar area of the screen when you have selected a particular database to search.  Here you will see “Related Data Collections” that notes names of other databases that could be helpful to you and may be related in a way to the database you are using.
  • Databases in General – Crista also mentioned that you may see databases that just note the database is an “Index”.  This means the original data has been transcribed from an original source but you will not have access to the original image of the document itself.  She suggested that if you find material in these Indexed databases, you may want to contact the source for the original records used to create the index and try to obtain an image of the original record associated with your indexed result.  There could be more in the original data that was not moved into the indexed file, plus you could also uncover transcription errors between the original record and the created indexed record.
  • Research Reminders #1 – Read the complete database descriptions for the newly added material to know what is contained and what is NOT contained.  Don’t just search!
  • Research Reminder #2 – Understand the records you are looking at when you are searching a newly added database.  Knowing what is there will help you create better search terms for better results.  Just create a “test” input search to see the results.
  • Crista spent a good time on this video noting that it is important to consider “browsing” records rather than always searching indexed databases.  Browsing databases are those that have not yet been indexed.  You cannot search these but the data as images is available for you to look through.  The data is generally subdivided into manageable viewing components.  Think of it as viewing a microfilm online.  Look at an individual database via the “Card Catalog” and look to see if it has a “Browse Box” that allows you to look at the data but not be able yet to search it.  The “browse box” implies the data is not yet indexed for direct searching.

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 Genealogical Society Is Offering A Writing Contest For 2015-2016; $500 First Prize, $250 Second Prize And $100 Third Prize; Rules And Regulations In This Post As A PDF

Hi Everyone!

Chicago Genealogical Society LogoIn the October 2015 Chicago Genealogical Society Newsletter, I happened to notice that the society is offering a writing contest with prizes that will take place between September 1, 2015 through May 30, 2016.

The contest is open to both members of the society as well as non-members of the society.

The society will be offering the following prizes:

  • $500 for 1st Place
  • $250 for 2nd Place
  • $100 for 3rd Place

Take a look at the following 3 page PDF that provides all of the rules and requirements associated with this writing contest.

2015-2016 Chicago Genealogical Society Writing Contest Rules and Requirements

Lots of rules and requirements but they are not impossible.  If you are interested, read many times over the Rules and Requirements for the contest so your submission will be valid for evaluation.

I can’t say that I have seen such contests offered very frequently.  This one stands out from a society local to our area.  Also, this contest is open for another 7 + months.  You can’t say there is not enough time or that you would be hurried for time!

Read the PDF package above.  Lay out your plan.  Start writing.  Make your submission.

Sounds pretty straightforward!

Give it a try and put some extra money in your pockets as well as gaining acclaim in  a big way!

You can always visit the website of the Chicago Genealogical Society to see what they are all about at:

Chicago Genealogical Society

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“Try-It! Illinois 2015” Free Database Access Available From October 1, 2015 Through November 30, 2015; Request Log-In ID/Password From Illinois Secretary Of State; Approximately 33 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 2015”.

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 2015 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 2015

This trial is open to users from October 1, 2015 through November 30, 2015.

Here is a little write-up at the Try-It Illinois 2015 website describing more about this Try-It Illinois 2015 access:

About Try-It!

Welcome to Try-It! Illinois 2015, the sixteenth annual statewide database trial, sponsored by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois State Library. Try-It! Illinois offers the staffs and library 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.
Note: We ask that you not post the Try-It! Illinois login and password on the Internet, on Web sites or in publicly archived e-newsletters.

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 33 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.

Some of the databases within this list are databases our library currently subscribes to such as Fold3, Historical Chicago Tribune, Historical New York Times, and Newspaper Archive.com.  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. “Films on Demand”.  But, nonetheless, it is in the list of 33 databases.  Many seem to be more “pure” history databases and not so much genealogy databases as we are more familiar with.  But at least the “subject” category narrows down your choices over and above the hundreds of databases made available overall.

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.)

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, 33 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, 2015 to November 30, 2015.

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 33 databases categorized as being for Genealogy and Family History.

See what you think.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library