Category Archives: Tips

Become An Author; Write An Article For The Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly; Guidelines Included As A Link To Guide You Through Writing/Submission Process

Hi Everyone!,

I was just browsing through the recent Summer 2017 issue of the Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) Quarterly when one of the pages struck me as being of interest.

Are you a budding genealogical author?  Have you ever wanted to write an article about an Illinois family that you have been researching and get it published?  How do all of the articles that you read get written, submitted and published?  

Most of the time we read article after article in various journals and might wonder how the process works.  Then you say to yourself that you could do that!

Well, in this Summer 2017 issue of the ISGS Quarterly, the society has included a full-page description of the guidelines for what can be submitted and for how to submit the material to the society for consideration for publication in the ISGS Quarterly.

Here is the one-page guide from the Summer 2017 issue that tells you all about the magical process to go from thoughts to words to publication!

2017 Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly Author Guidelines

You can do it!

You may already have been writing your family history story.  Maybe what is already on paper can be tweaked to fit the guidelines of the ISGS Quarterly for submission.

Who knows where your writing skills can take you!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


Follow-Up To Announcement By FamilySearch Microfilm Discontinuation Effective September 1, 2017; Frequently Asked Questions Link Regarding This Change

Hi Everyone!

Initially when I made a post about the announcement regarding microfilm discontinuation by FamilySearch, I was able to provide you with a link to the announcement.

Now, I have actually looked through the Dick Eastman blog post about this announcement and I see that Dick has a link in his post to a “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” associated with this announcement.

I wanted to provide this to you because some of the questions I personally have related to accessing digitized material might have answers for me in this FAQ section.

So, now you have a link to the announcement in my previous post as well as a link to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding this announcement.

Here is the link to the FAQ section:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Related To FamilySearch Microfilm Discontinuation

The FAQ may very well provide you with a more comfortable feeling on what is about to happen starting on September 1, 2017 when you will no longer be able to order microfilms from FamilySearch.

Hope this added piece of information will help you.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


FamilySearch Microfilm Discontinuation Starting September 1, 2017; Major Change Coming Real Soon; Not Unexpected

Hi Everyone!

Just received some major info from one of my colleagues plus now seeing much buzz on the Internet.

FamilySearch will shortly stop distributing microfilms.  Microfilm distribution will cease as of September 1, 2017.

Here is a link to the full announcement from FamilySearch on this rather blockbuster news item:

Family History Microfilm Discontinuation Announcement

We all new this was coming down the road as transitioning to digital imaging was taking over.  I urge you to read the full announcement in the above link.

I have my own questions for which I do not think there are answers or I simply do not understand the transition process.

The announcement suggests 1.5 million microfilms have been digitized.  This is good!  But what I don’t understand is that if they have been digitized would it not imply that I should be able to look at images from the Polish villages of my ancestors online today?  If they are digitized where are the images?  If I look at FamilySearch and click on the map of Europe and then select Poland, I find the equivalent of only 8 databases of Polish information that can both be searched and browsed, 5 that are searchable and 3 that are browseable.

So where is the equivalent of Film #xyz for the Polish village of Wawelno for which I accessed in the past the old-fashioned way using a microfilm reader?  I don’t know.  It is not in the 8 databases for Polish information I can search through at FamilySearch today.

The announcement suggests much will still be completed between September 1, 2017 and 2020 to get all data online.  Will my Polish village of Wawelno be completely unavailable between September 1, 2017 and 2020 while it is being worked on for online uploading?  Will there be a massive data dump of digitized material sometime shortly after September 1, 2017 when the images of the records of the Wawelno past microfilm might appear online as images shortly after September 1, 2017?

I guess it is just too early to know what we will see online after September 1, 2017.  But I do know there are only the equivalent of 8 Polish database files today that are on FamilySearch today.    The worst scenario is that although the data exists in microfilm format today it could go on a “vacation” for an almost 3 year period while it is being converted to online images that can be viewed by me.  I would not have microfilm access nor would I have online digital image access until possibly as late as the end of 2020.

I don’t even care that the records may not be indexed.  Just looking at the images as if my monitor is a microfilm reader is all that I would want.

You will be able to order FamilySearch microfilms through August 31, 2017.  So, if you have been thinking about it you now have about 2 months left to order.  I get a sense there will be a massive “run” to do just that over the next 2 month period.

Maybe this announcement does not affect you at all if you have become an only “online data” researcher and have never ordered and used actual microfilm.

For me, it is just the unknown of what I am going to be able to access online after September 1, 2017, since that will really be my only choice.  Will I see images of my Wawelno Polish village records images?  Hope so.  Or will I have to be patient with the idea of seeing them sometime after September 1, 2017 and before January 1, 2021??

Read the full announcement and see where you fit into this blockbuster but expected news.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Fountaindale Public Library In Bolingbrook Has Previously Recorded Videos Of Their 2016 And 2017 “Genealogy Day” Programs Online; Approximately 9 Hours Of Recording Among 6 Programs

Hi Everyone!

While perusing among some genealogical information online,  I just happened to cross paths with some material from a genealogy librarian colleague from Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook.

Not only has Debra Dudek of the Fountaindale Public Library offered Irish Genealogy Programs in conjunction with the Ulster Historical Foundation, but she has also been holding an annual “Genealogy Day” Program.  The “Genealogy Day” Program generally consists of three 90 minute programs.  That alone is incredible.  But to top it off, Debra, video records each program and makes them available to view online.  In fact, the original programs were streamed LIVE on the day of the event over the internet!  Pretty impressive! 

Here is the link where you can find these “Genealogy Day” Programs from 2016 and 2017:

2016 and 2017 “Genealogy Day” Recorded Programs from the Fountaindale Public Library

The 2016 programs under the theme of “Hunting Down Sensational Stories” were:

  • “Using History Lines to Tell Your Family Story” presented by Adam Allgaier  (Program actually starts about 90 seconds after you start “play”.)
  • “Sensational Deaths and Where to Find Them” presented by Tina Beaird  (Program starts about 30 seconds after you start “play”.)
  • “Tracking Infamous Ancestors in Court Records” by Raymond Johnson  (Program starts about 30 seconds after you start “play”.)

The 2017 programs under the theme of “Crime, Fame, and Other Genealogical Confessions” were:

  • “Genetic Genealogy” presented by Robert Sliwinski  (The video has a slow introduction and some initial audio problems for about the first 90 seconds but then it is fine).
  • “Are You Related to Someone Famous?” presented by Robert Allen
  • “Where the Murderers Roam” presented by Dr. Daniel Hubbard

For the 2017 programs, you can even access the handouts that were used for the 2017 programs.  They are linked right under the 3rd video when you get to the site.  I did not see any handout links for the 2016 program.

Perhaps the topics may be of interest to your own research efforts?  Maybe they just sound interesting and you want to learn more about an aspect of genealogy you are not familiar with.

Each video is about 90 minutes in length.  Get comfortable.  Get a cup of coffee or tea.  Hit the play button and you will be on your way.

A big “Thank You” to Debra Dudek and the Fountaindale Public Library for making these recorded genealogy program videos available to all when they are able.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Family Bible Collections Appearing In The Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly Journal; List Of Submitted Surnames; Consider Submitting Bible Records In Your Possession

Hi Everyone!

Some of you may be very lucky to have in your possession an old, old family bible used by your ancestors not only for religious purposes but also for a place in which births, marriages and deaths were documented for the family.

Consider yourself lucky if you have one.

Such bibles with the identification of births, marriages and deaths for family members may be the only place you will be able to find such vital record information, especially if the events occurred before it was the norm for vital record registration for such events (generally pre-1860s in the U.S.).

The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) publishes the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly Journal.  One of the sections of this journal is titled “Family Bible Collections”.  It is within this section that contributors provide the society with transcribed lists of materials contained in the bibles the contributors have in their possession.  The ISGS has been collecting this data since 1988.  You will generally see the births, marriages and deaths that were recorded by ancestral family members that were transcribed and provided to the Illinois State Genealogical Society.

Here are some of the family names I saw in this quarterly section from the 2017, Volume 49, Number 1 issue:

  • Houston Family
  • Dillon Family
  • Ebert Family
  • Ellsworth Family
  • Elmore Family
  • Eury Family
  • Geddes Family
  • Graves Family
  • Gumbel Family
  • Hieser (Hiser) Family

The section also identifies for the particular bible the name of the person who submitted it, who owns the bible, family places of residence (if available) and births, marriages and deaths.  The submissions do not have to be only for Illinois ancestors.  The society does prefer submissions to be of pre-1920 dates.

Sometimes other non-religious, non-vital record information can be found in these bibles.  Things such as recipes, poems, other family contacts etc. might be found.

My point on sharing this with you is twofold.  Consider just browsing through the issues we have of this journal and look to see if any of the surnames you are researching are contained in the listings.  You can find this journal on the 2nd floor of our library on the magazine shelves.  We have this journal in our collection going back to the Fall of 2013.

If you personally become a member of the society you will receive the journal that contains this information as part of your subscription.

Better yet, check out the link below to the Society that will get you to the “Bible” part of the website to see the entire list of names that have been submitted to the society.  You might find a connection, especially if the name is not a common one.

Illinois State Genealogical Society Family Bible Collections

My second point is to consider being a submitter to the Illinois State Genealogical Society of any bible material you may have in your own possession.  Check the link above that will also give you information on what it takes to be a submitter to the society of bible records you have in your own possession.

Bible records are a hidden resource of valuable material.  You won’t always hit a home run with this material, but if you do it will be like a goldmine.

I want you to at least be aware of this resource from the Illinois State Genealogical Society.  Maybe you will find a connection previously unknown to you.

Check out the link above to access the list of surnames compiled from bible information submitted to the society.  Consider being a submitter and use the same link for information on how to be a contributor.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group Of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) Offers DNA Special Interest Group (SIG) On Saturday June 10, 2017

Hi Everyone!

CAGGNI logoHave you submitted your DNA for genealogical analysis?

Are you trying to make sense of the results you received back?

Feel like talking about it but don’t know where to turn?

Just want to make everyone aware that the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) has a DNA special interest group (SIG).

I just received an email from the group indicating that their next meeting will take place on Saturday, June 10, 2017 starting at 10:30 AM at the Schaumburg Township District Library.

Here is the text describing what will take place at this upcoming DNA SIG:


DNA Special Interest Group

CAGGNI’s genomic genealogy group continues into its third year. This group focuses on learning the methods for analyzing DNA test results. We study topics such as autosomal DNA, mitochondrial DNA, Y-DNA and surname projects, X-DNA and ancestral admixture results. We’ll also investigate third party tools for analyzing your raw data and comparing DNA and gedcom data with test kit results from companies besides the one you tested with.

DNA can break down genealogical brick walls once thought impenetrable – but only if you know how.

The SIG will combine short 15-20 minute lectures with interactive workshop-style activities. 

Get ready to put your DNA results to work for you!

Facilitators:  Al & Michelle Wilson

For more information: DNA Special Interest Group


Consider connecting with this special interest group local to our area.  You spent good money on your DNA kits.  Why not really learn how to interpret and use your results in a real productive manner.  I am sure your testing company offers automated ways to interpret results through PowerPoint presentations or YouTube videos or maybe even person to person via customer service.  Here is your chance to discuss Genealogy DNA among fellow testers.  Learn about DNA tests that are over and above what you started with and how they can help you even more.

Learn from others, help others.

You can always visit the general website of the CAGGNI group to see what they are all about.  And I can guarantee you they are about many things genealogically speaking, including having this DNA SIG group.  You can visit CAGGNI at:

Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois

See how this CAGGNI group can help you with your DNA results.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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

Hi Everyone!

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

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

Why is this important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the link I found online:

Questions To Use To Interview An Older Relative

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

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library