Category Archives: Tips

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

“What’s New At Ancestry.com September 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 September 2015 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com September 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; Ancestry Days, November 14, 2015, Indianapolis, IN.; 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; Federation of Genealogy Societies, August 2015, Springfield, IL.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Ancestry.com beta site is still being worked.  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 – Ancestry DNA has crossed the 1 million mark in submissions in the database.  Look for new Shared Matches feature.
  • New Databases – West Yorkshire, England, Removal and Settlement Records, 1689-1866.  Database contains about 14,000 records and is both searchable and browseable.  Crista pointed out that this is the perfect example to review the description of the database contents because researchers need to know what the meaning of “Settlement” records means about this database.  Always read the database description information.  In this case “settlement” applies to those that were poor and indigent in this area of England and were noted when moved from one community to another.
  • New Databases –  Ansbach, Germany, Lutheran Parish Register Extracts, 1550-1920.  Database contains about 2.8 million records and is both searchable and browseable.  You will be looking at transcriptions of original records but not the original record.  The records are in German.
  • 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

New Episode Of “Who Do You Think You Are?” On Sunday Evening, August 30, 2015, At 8 PM Central Time On TLC; Tom Bergeron Is The Featured “Star” Of The Research; Mini-Marathon Of Encore Episodes Starts At 1 PM Chicago Time

Hi Everyone!

Who Do You Think You Are?I just want to let you know that a new episode for “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be airing on the cable channel TLC on Sunday evening, August 30, 2015, at 8 PM Central time.

The new episode for this new season will feature actor Tom Bergeron.

You can see an almost immediate “encore” presentation of the Tom Bergeron show at 10 PM if you miss the premier showing at 8 PM.

TLC is also having a “mini-marathon” on this day starting at 1 PM Chicago time and going until the premier episode starring Tom Bergeron.  You can watch the following encore episodes of the show at the Central times being noted:

  • 1 PM Christina Applegate
  • 2 PM Jesse Tyler Ferguson
  • 3 PM Angie Harmon
  • 4 PM America Ferrera
  • 5 PM Alfre Woodard
  • 6 PM Ginnifer Goodwin
  • 7 PM Bryan Cranston

Previously, when the show was on NBC, they dedicated a portion of their website to the show so that you could always get updates on the show.  TLC appears to be doing the same for this show as it unfolds during this season.  You can find the information for the show on TLC at:

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Website At TLC

TLC is actually making available a few of the previously aired shows in their full run time at the TLC site.  So you can actually watch some full episodes without having to go to iTunes to make purchases of previously aired shows.

Make sure you mark down the date and time and plan to watch the “new” episode in its original airing rather than at a later time if you can.  (Ratings are important for continuity of this wonderful show!)  Last year if you did not watch the original airing or did not DVR the show, your alternative was to purchase a copy from iTunes to catch up on shows missed and not recorded by yourself.

Now is the time to get the buzz going and to reconnect with some TV help and entertainment to motivate you in your own genealogical research efforts.

Mark your calendar for Sunday evening, August 30, 2015 at 8 PM Central Time on TLC on cable and see what has been discovered about actor Tom Bergeron.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

New Episode Of “Who Do You Think You Are?” On Sunday Evening, August 23, 2015, At 8 PM Central Time On TLC; Bryan Cranston Is The Featured “Star” Of The Research

Hi Everyone!

Who Do You Think You Are?I just want to let you know that a new episode for “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be airing on the cable channel TLC on Sunday evening, August 23, 2015, at 8 PM Central time.

The new episode for this new season will feature actor Bryan Cranston.

Here is a small description from the TLC website describing the program:

Bryan Cranston’s happy childhood shattered when his father abandoned the family when Bryan was just 11. Seeking answers, Bryan explores his paternal roots, finds a troubling pattern of desertion, a man of honor and an aunt he never even knew existed.

You can see an almost immediate “encore” presentation of the Bryan Cranston show at 10 PM if you miss the premier showing at 8 PM.

Previously, when the show was on NBC, they dedicated a portion of their website to the show so that you could always get updates on the show.  TLC appears to be doing the same for this show as it unfolds during this season.  You can find the information for the show on TLC at:

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Website At TLC

TLC is actually making available a few of the previously aired shows in their full run time at the TLC site.  So you can actually watch some full episodes without having to go to iTunes to make purchases of previously aired shows.

Make sure you mark down the date and time and plan to watch the “new” episode in its original airing rather than at a later time if you can.  (Ratings are important for continuity of this wonderful show!)  Last year if you did not watch the original airing or did not DVR the show, your alternative was to purchase a copy from iTunes to catch up on shows missed and not recorded by yourself.

Now is the time to get the buzz going and to reconnect with some TV help and entertainment to motivate you in your own genealogical research efforts.

Mark your calendar for Sunday evening, August 23, 2015 at 8 PM Central Time on TLC on cable and see what has been discovered about actor Bryan Cranston.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At Ancestry.com August 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 an August 2015 video posted from Ancestry.com that is titled “What’s New At Ancestry.com August 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 – Ancestry Days, November 7, 2015, Raleigh, NC; Ancestry Days, November 14, 2015, Indianapolis, IN.; 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; Federation of Genealogy Societies, August 2015, Springfield, IL.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Ancestry.com beta site is still being worked.  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; look for new FamilySearch icon that will allow you to integrate to that site from within Ancestry; note Responsive Design for screen size accommodations for various devices; there is now a relationship calculator working in Family Tree; general print fixes have been implemented.
  • Ancestry Blog Post – Ancestry DNA has crossed the 1 million mark in submissions in the database.  Ancestry DNA is now available to users in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  The database is expected to grow even more with the addition of more and more countries in which users can submit their DNA.
  • New Databases – Kansas, Census data, 1919-1961; 13.6 million records; City and County Records; Searchable and Browseable images.
  • New Databases –  Canada Yearbooks, 1908-2010; 1.3 million records; by Province and City within Province; Searchable and Browseable.
  • New Databases – UK Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824-1910; 342,000 records; Searchable and Browseable; can select browseable lists of data based on dates.
  • New Databases – Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; 49.4 million records; you might find much more data about an ancestor in lieu of paying $27 for a copy of the ancestor’s Social Security Application document; could be very helpful for women’s records and the tracking of their name changes due to marriage.
  • 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 Folklore Collection of Ireland: Schools’ Collection” From An Article By Joe Grandinetti In Internet Genealogy

Hi Everyone,

National Folklore Collection LogoAs I was reviewing our library’s recent copy (August/September 2015, Volume 10, Number 3) of Internet Genealogy I came across a very wonderful article authored by Joe Grandinetti  titled “National Folklore Collection of Ireland: Schools’ Collection”.

Back in the late 1930s in Ireland, the Irish Folklore Commission gave an assignment to schoolchildren. About 50,000 students among 5,000 primary schools were given the task of collecting and documenting local stories from their parents, grandparents and older community members. This was done in the days before television and computers as we know it today. Families actually sat around together and interacted. Stories were bountiful of current and past family history. Many of the stories went back deep in family history time.

Over an 18 month period these stories were collected from the students. It appears that part of the assignment was a handwriting exercise. Students had to not only capture the stories but write them down in their best handwriting. Topics that might have been captured were:

• Folklore
• My Home District
• Local Happenings
• Customs
• Proverbs
• Poems
• Superstitions
• Cures
• Food
• Place Names
• Landlords
• Graveyards
• Old Houses

The project collected 740,000 pages of information that are currently being digitized and indexed. The data is available free of charge with no registration required at:

www.Duchas.ie (Scroll down a little then click on “The Schools’ Collection”)

At the home page you can select to search by “People”, “Places” and “Surnames”. Take a look at these. The “Places” map is very detailed and shows that most of the data came from the West coast of Ireland in addition to pockets of data from Dublin and Waterford. You can click your cursor over a spot on the map to see what town it is and who the teacher was and what was captured.

You can look at a list of the counties for which data is being processed. It appears you can obtain information from County Dublin, Kildare, Kerry, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Waterford and Sligo. There is a goal to have a “significant” part of the data available online by the end of 2016.  It is a work in progress as more and more data images will be added as well as the text being indexed.  The documents from each school are notes as being what percent completed for images and indexing.  You can select those that are 100% completed or even those that are partially completed.  The documents are also noted as to who the “informant” was that wrote the material.

The material is searchable by “place”, “School”, and “person”. Make sure you click on “More Details” for the area to see the details of the names of individuals that have been identified. Click on the name and it will take you to the location in the writing where the name appears.

There is much to explore at the site both geographically and within the various categories of data you might find. I did find this fascinating to explore. The handwriting for the most part is absolutely beautiful and neat and more importantly, readable!!  And genealogists certainly need to encounter clear and readable handwriting once in a while!  Be aware that you may encounter documents that are not in English but in Irish which might be challenging for you to understand.  When you click on the link at the site for “More Details” about a particular set of writings you will see a Table of Information that distinguishes documents in English versus those in Irish.  You can select to view just those English written documents.

In the big picture of data this data is small in quantity. However, I thought the project as expressed by the author of the article was so interesting you might ask yourself why this hasn’t been done routinely in schools throughout the world and especially here at home in the US??

This was a fascinating article about a very fascinating kind of data! Definitely check out the site even if you are not researching Irish ancestry just to see what could be done as a school assignment that could lead to some fascinating genealogical discoveries if you are lucky.  And if you have Irish ancestry you will want to look at this site and see if data currently on the site connects to your own geographic areas of Irish research.

A big “thank you” to Joe Grandinetti for having written up the article for publication in Internet Genealogy that made us aware of this wonderful project!

We have this journal in our collection.  You can find this genealogy magazine on the 2nd floor of our library on the magazine shelves.  You may want to look at the full article to view the pictures and more importantly examples of some of the handwritten pages included in the article.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library