Category Archives: Tips

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 2014-2015.

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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!

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Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Update Information From Our November 11, 2014 Genealogy Program With Marsha Peterson-Maass And Her Program “Swab Your Cheek: How To Make The Most Of DNA Kinship Results”

Hi Everyone!

STDL Central Summer LgAt our genealogy program on November 11, 2014, Marsha Peterson-Maass presented a topic titled “Swab Your Cheek: How To Make the Most of DNA Kinship Results”.

During the program some questions came up from the audience for which Marsha indicated she would do some further investigation on the question to see what she could uncover.

The questions related to:

  • Neanderthal DNA detection in our current species.
  • Ethnicity DNA Results
  • Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society

Here are comments provided to me by Marsha that she would like for me to share with you:

Neanderthal DNA in Humans

o      Two commercially available testing companies offer atDNA test results including Neanderthal percentages, see “Special Features” on this Autosomal DNA Testing Comparison Chart http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_testing_comparison_chart

o     23andMe Blog has an interesting article at http://blog.23andme.com/news/dem-bones/ . You can also subscribe to their free Blog on that webpage.

Ethnicity DNA Results

o     You can receive a good synopsis of the history of ethnicity reporting problems thru the top 3 commercial DNA testing companies (FamilyTreeDNA, AncestryDNA and 23andMe) if you go to The Genetic Genealogist’s blog http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/ and down the right column you’ll see its “TGG Search” box where you can type the word “ethnicity.”

o     Find a list of other commercially available DNA testing companies here http://www.isogg.org/wiki/List_of_DNA_testing_companies . . . for ethnicity results, look for “(ethnicity)” behind the company’s name. I have read positive things, but have no personal experience with the ethnicity atDNA STRs testing company called DNA Tribes http://www.dnatribes.com/ . It “allows individuals to have their genetic ancestry analyzed based on autosomal STR genetic markers developed by the FBI for individual identification in a forensic context.” It is highly recommended if you’re looking to prove ethnicity to a specific indigenous tribe (i.e., many Native American tribes) with the ethnicities they can currently test for listed here by continent here http://www.dnatribes.com/populations.html . A summary of DNA Tribes services and some reference materials can be found here http://www.isogg.org/wiki/DNA_Tribes

The Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society

o     Home webpage https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

o     Project summary and many reference materials listed here http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Genographic_Project

A big “Thank You” to Marsha for providing me with the follow-up information related to questions that came up during the program.

Please check out the links that Marsha provided as part of her responses.

Our program participants were certainly well-versed on the subject with some great questions posed to Marsha during the program.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District LIbrary

Check Out The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections; Full-Text Searchable; Browse Through Newspaper Titles And Issues

Hi Everyone!

Digital Newspaper ImageThanks to a group of Genealogy Librarians that I participate with, I have been made aware of another nice online tool that could help with your genealogy research.

It is called “The Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections”.

You can find it at:


Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections

Here is a small description of what it is that can be found at the site:

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Welcome to the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections.

This collection contains 45 newspaper titles, 93,011 issues comprising 1,112,621 pages and 7,160,392 articles.

Since 2005, the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library at the University of Illinois has been developing unique digital newspaper content. The works collected here include digital facsimilies of newspapers and trade journals in a variety of fields. Users may search, browse, tag, and correct OCR text to improve searchability and access.

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These do not appear to be large-scale newspapers from large metropolitan areas.  Most appear to be from very “rural” areas.  I wish the developers had included a connection to the name of the newspaper and the relative geographic area it served.  When you look at the newspaper names you do not know where they are from in Illinois in many cases.  So it can be hard to associate an ancestor from an area of Illinois to a newspaper to search.  Your best bet is to just search the entirety of all newspapers.

You can do full text searching using a simple search box or an “advanced” search box.  You can browse through a list of all of the newspapers in the digital collection.  There is a very nice and lengthy “FAQ” part of the site (Frequently Asked Questions) from which you will gain great insight about the resource and how to use it.

You may discover an interesting newspaper connected to the location of your ancestors but may also find out that a small amount of editions is all that is included in the digital collection.  This is likely if only a small amount of the original newspapers still existed from which to make digital copies.  So you could encounter some disappointments with minimal amounts of digital material.

You may also discover the omnipresent problem of the actual digitization process that may scan a name incorrectly.  I have this happen frequently for my name KIERNA.  The name KIERNA may appear in the search results index but when you look at the actual newspaper image, the real name in the actual newspaper is KIERNAN.  This happens because some of the ink fades and the scanning process does the best it can but it picks up the name incorrectly into the index.

Again, you may encounter more disappointment.

I actually did discover a newspaper article about the death of a related ancestor in 1914 as the result of a motorcycle accident as reported in the Rock Island Argus.

You can save the full image page of the newspaper as a PDF or save all of the text of the page as a text file.  It looks better to save as a PDF and then zoom in on the article on the page of interest to you.

You can also e-mail the image to yourself for any discoveries.  Just look at the top right upper part of the page for the icons, one of which is an envelope, another is a “+” sign.  I tried using the envelope icon to mail and I did not receive anything.  I tried using the “+” sign and saw a list of options to share the material.  You will find Facebook, Twitter and many other areas to share including a simple “Email App”.  I used that and I was able to get the email to me that contained the link to the page where my research material is contained.

It is worth adding this resource to your list to use when researching Illinois ancestors.  It is a relatively small collection of online searchable material, but you can still find something just like I did.  The data will continue to grow within this resource as more digitization takes place in the future.

Give it a try!

Thanks to all my library colleagues that shared this among all of us.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

“What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2014″ 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 2014 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com November 2014″.

The video is an approximate 24 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 – Roots Tech 2015 and Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) (Combined Conferences), February 12 to 14, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT; National Genealogical Society (NGS) Annual Conference, May 13-16, 2015 at St. Charles, Missouri.
  • New Database – Germany Birth, Marriage and Death Records.  Approximately 24 new German oriented databases added under this general category.  Use the Card Catalog with search term “Germany” and look at results using “most recently added” filter to see a list of these databases.  Some are specific to certain areas of Germany like Berlin and Dresden.  There is also an “all Germany” database in this set.  Millions of records added.  Berlin records cover 1874 to 1899 for births and 1874 to 1920 for marriages and deaths.  Records are in German so you might want to consider using Google Translate for help.
  • New Database – New York State Census 1865 has been added.  For anyone doing New York state research there are many of these state censuses now available.  Most other states did not do state censuses as regularly as New York has done over the years.  You will find New York State Censuses for 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925.  These can remarkably fill in the gaps in between the Federal decennial years.  The 1865 data base and the other New York state census files are all indexed and searchable.
  • New Database – North Carolina Civil Action Court Papers 1712 to 1970.  Not indexed.  Images only to browse through.  You can look through list of counties to select to narrow down your browsing and then look for year ranges to narrow down even further.  You possibly can discover all of those interesting cases on land disputes and lawsuits that might be connected to your own ancestors.
  • New Database – Liverpool, England Crew Lists 1861-1919.  This database was done by the Community Archivers through Ancestry.  This means the database is available to anyone to search and use without having a subscription to Ancestry.com.  It is indexed and searchable.
  • New Ancestry Tool – Crista noted that Ancestry has a new tool for researchers to use to make their image browsing a better experience.  For database files that contain images only and are not indexed and searchable, Ancestry now has a “film strip” image tool at the bottom of the image window.  Now “all” the images of the database will load and the researcher can quickly look through the film strip to see an image that might be promising like a “year” break.  Previously, you had to select an image or take a guess at an image and click on it for it to load.  Now you can more quickly see magnified images of the pages in the film strip to see if an image might be more relevant to your search.  Click on that “film strip” image and it will load.
  • 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

Our Library Has Just Added The American Ancestors Database From The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) To Our Collection Of Genealogical Databases; Available Only From Within The Library; You Can Access The Database From The Electronic Reference Products (ERP) Computers Behind The “Ask Us” Desk On The 2nd Floor

Hi Everyone!

NEHGS LogoI bring you good tidings as the Holiday Season is about to start!

Or you may just think that Santa has brought us all an early present!

Our library has just activated a new genealogical database for you to use in the library.  It is called American Ancestors and is provided to us through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS).

The resource contains approximately 500 unique databases that contain 200 million records that originate from New York, New England and beyond.

Our library will also receive a subscription to the print copy of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register as well as American Ancestors Magazine.  These journals will be available to access on the 2nd floor of our library on the magazine shelves when we start receiving them.

You will be able to access this new database from within our library on the dedicated Electronic Reference Products (ERPs) terminals located just behind the “Ask Us” desk on the 2nd floor of our library.

The NEHGS does not allow access to the product for home users of our library.  This is similar in restriction to Ancestry Library Edition that also only allows in-library use with no access from home.

Even with in-library use only, for the colonial American researcher who does not have a personal subscription to this NEHGS database, this database can still deliver some great records to the genealogical researcher.

You can access this database on the 2nd floor of our library on our Electronic Reference Products (ERPs) terminals that are located just behind the “Ask Us” desk.  You do not have to sign up for use time on these computers as you do with our Internet computers.  Use the Mozilla or Internet Explorer browser icon on these terminals to access the large list of electronic products we offer.  Just select “Research and Genealogy” once you open up the browser.  Then select “Genealogy” from the next page.  The genealogy databases are in alphabetical order so this new one is right near the top of the list.

I am so glad we have been able to add this new genealogy database to our collection.  It will be a great resource to those researching Colonial American ancestry.

Give it a try.  I would like to hear back from anyone using it about the “pros” and “cons” of your experience.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Our Library Has Added A Book About Pre-Fire Records For Chicago And Cook County; “Researcher’s Guide To The Pre-Fire Records Of Chicago And Cook County”; Author Is W. Wesley Johnston

Hi Everyone!

Pre-Chicagao Fire GuideI noticed that our library has added a new genealogy-oriented book to our circulating collection.

The book is titled Researcher’s Guide to the Pre-Fire Records of Chicago and Cook County, Revised Edition.  The author of the book is W. Wesley Johnston.  The call number of the book is ILLINOIS COLL 929.3 JOHNSTON, W.  It will be available on the 2nd floor of our library on the circulating shelves within the Illinois Collection.  Right now as of this post, it is on the “New Non-Fiction” shelves near the “Ask Us” desk on the 2nd floor until it migrates to the Illinois Collection.

It is a small paperback book consisting of 140 pages of listings of resources that survived the great Chicago fire of 1871.  While not being the usual resources genealogists would gravitate to such as birth, marriage and death records, these records might be able to shed some light on your own Chicago ancestors prior to the fire of 1871.

Here is a small write-up description on the back cover of the book:

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed the courthouse and city hall and most of the records. But many records survived or were later able to be legally proven. In 1938, the Work Projects Administration’s Historical Records Survey inventoried Cook County and Chicago records. But the inventory went unpublished when the WPA ended, and the records languished in the Illinois State Archives. Wesley Johnston spent 2 years going through the records and 4 more to publish them in 1982. Now he has updated his 1982 book.

Some of the examples of the kind of records you can research are:

  • Cook County Taxation Records
  • Cook County Recorder Records
  • Clerk of the Superior Court Records
  • Chicago City Clerk Records
  • Chicago City Collector Records
  • Chicago Commissioner of Public Works Records

The above small list only scratches the surface on the multitude variety of Cook County and City of Chicago records that exist.  The book provides page after page of a variety of infrequently used records that genealogists do not generally research.  But they are there.  Everything did not burn.  There may only be smatterings of the full amount of the records, but there are records that might pertain to your pre-fire Chicago ancestors.

For each item included in the book the author has identified as to where those records can be found using an acronym table of abbreviation near the beginning of the book.  The author also noted that these records are not contained within the FamilySearch catalog.  They are not available as microfilms through FamilySearch.

It appears that any research on the vast majority of these records will be done in the “old-fashioned” research method of just looking through the material.  These are not contained in any online databases (at this time).  They are generally not indexed for quick research to get you to the area of interest.  So be prepared to work at it with no certainty of making any discoveries.

The fact the author created this book with a listing of these resources is wonderful.  Life for many of us that grew up in Chicago almost always hear and are told that Chicago’s records start after 1871.  For many of us with Chicago ancestors pre-1871 that may be enough for us to stop any research prior to 1871.  But the listing of the many resources available prior to 1871 for Chicago and Cook County proves that many kinds of records survived the fire of 1871.  It just boils down to how hard you want to work on making new discoveries of your pre-1871 Chicago ancestors.

This book will soon be on our Illinois Collection circulating shelves on the 2nd floor of our library.  Right now it is identified as “NEW” and is on the special section of shelves for “New” non-fiction books near the 2nd floor “Ask Us” desk.

It is at least worth a “browse through” to satisfy your own curiosity on what might exist to help you uncover more about your own pre-fire Chicago ancestors record trail they may have left within what survived.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

New YouTube Teaching Aid Screencast Created By Me; “Tony’s Genealogy Blog At The Schaumburg Township District LIbrary … What’s That All About?”; 34 Minute Tour Of Features And Functions Of This Blog; You Can View The Video Right In This Post

Hi Everyone!

STDL Central Summer LgMy creative juices were flowing a couple of weeks ago when I decided to create another teaching genealogy screencast.

The topic I chose to screencast was about this very blog and all of the features and functions that can be found in it.   Those features and functions include the main home page where frequent “posts” are made, the “Pages” at the top of the homepage where all kinds of important information reside,  and even the right sidebar where Polls, Newsletters and Handouts exist.

For any followers of the blog I am hopeful that you have already explored all of these features.  But maybe you have not.  So that was another reason for me to describe all that can be found at this genealogy blog.

For anyone new to this blog as well as new to genealogical research, what better way to make you aware of all that exists within this blog than through an informative screencast.

This screencast currently exists within the Schaumburg Township District Library YouTube Channel.  Our library has a multitude of online videos across a variety of subjects, topics and events.  The “genealogy” component is also identified on our channel where you can now find 2 screencasts related to genealogy insights.  The other genealogy screencast that exists on our channel is titled “Using America’s Obituaries and Death Notices Database”.  Check that one out if you were not aware of it.   Become familiar with the “how to use that database” screencast to help you make more ancestral discoveries.

You can get to all of the Schaumburg Township District Library YouTube videos at:

Schaumburg Township District Library YouTube Channel

But enough about all of our wonderful library YouTube videos!

I know you are looking at this post to see THE  YouTube screencast  video about this very blog!  So here it is.  Get yourself in a nice comfortable chair.  Relax and enjoy the 34 minute tour right below direct from YouTube:

My plan is to create even more helpful screencasts in the future related to resources and tools that can help you in your own genealogy research.  Visit our library’s YouTube Channel linked above to access more genealogy screencasts that I plan on creating.  “Follow” this blog since I will let you know of new screencasts with published new posts.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog through the eyes of the above screencast.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library