Category Archives: Tips

FamilySearch Has Added Illinois, Northern District Petitions For Naturalization, 1906-1994 Database To Its Collection; Un-Indexed, Images Only; Could Still Be Very Helpful To Your Research

Hi Everyone! LogoI was looking through the recent Chicago Genealogical Society Newsletter (December 2015) and saw there was a small article authored by Ginger Frere, a librarian at the Newberry and a frequent speaker at our genealogy programs.  She wrote an article that stated that a new online database was available at FamilySearch that could have much use for those of us doing Chicago-area research on naturalizations.

The database title is “Illinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1994”.

You can access this free database at

I do not see the name of the database above in the list of the 68 existing databases noted for Illinois.  That is because those databases are all searchable.  This database is visible in a list of those databases that FamilySearch has for Illinois that are at this time still only browseable.

One big caveat initially is that the data is un-indexed. You cannot yet search it for names of any individuals that filed these petitions.  Images are available to browse through and are based on a year-by-year entry.  There are over 2 million images.  You can select sub-files for Cook County, IL that are identified such as “Petitions, 1906-1908, v. 1, no. 1-50″ or Petitions, 1912, v. 17, no. 1501-1600”.  Cook County is the only county noted at this time in this file.

It was in 1906 that Naturalizations started taking place under the Federal government as opposed to being done within local non-Federal courts.  The good news from this is that the process was very well documented by the officials.  Great details were often provided by the person petitioning for naturalization.  Prior to 1906 naturalizations were done in local courts with very little personal detail provided in the documents.  You might just see that the person renounces allegiance to the King of “XXXXX” with no other information noted such as when immigrated, from where etc.

If you had an ancestor for whom you either know of a year of naturalization that was after 1906 and who lived in the Chicago area then perhaps it might be worth your effort to look through some of the images for a particular year.  Look for an image at the beginning of one of the “books” that is an index of surnames. These are generally in alphabetical order, sometimes only by first letter of the surname.  Find your surname and note the associated page where the document can be seen.  Then just try to find the page you need by entering in a guestimate image number.  Just keep checking this way until you find the “page number” on the right “image number”.

The details are very impressive of what exists.  You might even discover the exact birth town location of this ancestor.  I saw many of these noted in just browsing through some of the images.  You may see what ship they arrived on into which port.  So while this data is not indexed it can be helpful to you if you can narrow down a naturalization year after 1906 you may have discovered via a census record or some other family documents you may have.

It is likely that at some point in the future this data will become indexed and searchable.

It is well worth browsing through a few of these images just to see what information you can capture.  I wish I had some ancestors that I could discover here.  My ancestors were all naturalized pre-1906 in local Chicago courts.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


Our Library Has A 1944 And 1953 Chicago Telephone Directory And A 1958-1959 Chicagoland Suburban Telephone Directory; May Help You With Your More Recent Chicago Ancestral Research

Hi Everyone!

STDL Central Summer LgSometimes I surprise myself on discovering research resources we have that I did not even know our library had.

I was asked to help someone on a research request that was related to searching through telephone directories.  Yes, that is right, printed, large-size, heavy paper phone directories from days past.  You remember those, don’t you?  Printed by RR Donnelly with updated directories dropped off at your doorstep year after year after year!

In going through our material in our collection to help answer a genealogy research question, I actually discovered that our library has on our Reference shelves 3 helpful “old” print telephone directories that can be of help to the genealogical researcher digging into ancestors that may have been in Chicago or the Suburbs of Chicago within the last 50 to 75 years.

Here is a description of the 3 items in our 2nd floor Reference Collection I want you to be aware of:

  • 1944 Chicago Telephone Directory (Commonly referred to as “White Pages”)  (R 384.6025 CHICAGO 1944)
  • 1953 Chicago Telephone Directory (Commonly referred to as “White Pages”)  (R 384.6025 CHICAGO 1953)
  • 1958-59 Chicago Suburban Telephone Directory (Commonly referred to as “White Pages”)  (ILLINOIS COLL R 384.6025 CHICAGO)

These can be very helpful to do look-ups in if you have Chicago ancestors that lived in Chicago proper during the time periods covered by these resources.

The 1944 directory is helpful to track any ancestor migration since the 1940Phone Book Stock Photo Census that is currently available (in the 1940 Census in Chicago, not present in the 1944 Chicago Telephone Directory); the 1953 directory is helpful because the 1950 Census has not been made public at this time.

I actually looked at the 1944 directory for my name and found no one listed under KIERNA.  I guess my more recent ancestors did not have any money to have telephone service??  But by 1953 the name KIERNA does appear in that directory.

Your ancestor might not appear in these directories if they chose to have their information “Non-Published”.  They paid for the privilege of not having their name published in the print directory.  They may also not be in the directory if they did not have telephone service.

Just know that these resources are available in our library for you to use as a research tool.  These books in print are on the 2nd floor Reference Shelves.  Use the Call Number of the books noted above to find them.   If you can’t come in to our library to take a look at these directories, you can always call our library at 847-985-4000 and ask for the “Ask Us” desk on the 2nd floor.  They would be able to do a look-up for you in the directory.

Hopefully, the surname you seek is not a common one like “SMITH” or “JONES” because the directories cover the City of Chicago where these names are very common in the directory.

Also, since many of our ancestors may have originally settled in Chicago back in the late 1890s and early 1900s, it was not uncommon for them and their children to also “migrate” out of the city into the suburbs as the suburbs started growing in the 1940s and 1950s.  This is where the Chicago Suburban Telephone Directory might be of more help to you to track down these early ancestors that might have moved out to the Chicago suburbs and were listed in the 1958-1959 Suburban Directory we have.

I am glad that my research effort made me aware of these nice resources that I have available right at my fingertips at the Schaumburg Township District Library.  Perhaps it can help you too for your Chicago ancestral research, especially the part that is a little more current in time.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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

Hi Everyone!

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

What follows in Bold and Italics is the post I published back in 2009.  The message to family historians is as important today as it was then.  Take a look at the message and take advantage of your time with family during the holidays of 2015-2016.


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

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

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

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

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

Share your family history stories and research.

Keep an ear open for other family history stories.

Plant those seeds among family members for future help.

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


Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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 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 that is titled “What’s New At November 2015”.

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

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

Topics covered in this video by Crista are:

  • Upcoming Conferences – Salt Lake Institute, January 10 to 15, 2016 at Salt Lake City, UT.,; 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 – 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  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  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 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 site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At” 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

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

“What’s New At” 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 and where they are located.

Because so many of us use, 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  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