Category Archives: Tips

“Try-It! Illinois 2017” Free Database Access Available From October 1, 2017 Through November 30, 2017; Request Log-In ID/Password From Illinois Secretary Of State; Approximately 35 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 2017”.

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 2017 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 2017

This trial is open to users from October 1, 2017 through November 30, 2017.

Here is a little write-up at the Try-It Illinois 2017 website describing more about this Try-It Illinois 2017 access:

About Try-It!

Welcome to Try-It! Illinois 2017, the eigthteenth 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 35 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  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 35 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, 35 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, 2017 to November 30, 2017.

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 35 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 September 2017” 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 2017 video posted from that is titled “What’s New At September 2017”.

The video is an approximate 24 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 –  Large conference dates for 2018 have been set.  These are:  Feb 28 – Mar -3, 2018, RootsTech in Salt Lake city, UT; May 2-5, 2017, Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, CA; July 23-28, 2017, International Association of Jewish Genealogical Associations, Orlando, FL; August 30-September 2, 2017, Federation of Genealogical Societies, Pittsburgh, PA.

>  New Database
 – Sydney, Australia, Anglican Parish Registers, 1818-2011; 1.8 million records; Birth, Marriage and Death Records; Indexed; Searchable; Images of documents can be browsed; select the city or municipality, parish, record type; browse images as if it were a microfilm.

>  New Database – New York, Death Index, 1880-1956; 5 million records; Death Records; Indexed; Searchable; No Images; 1880-1889 data is also browseable; searchable by last name and other search limitations that can be entered via the template.  Can discover the name of the individual, birth date, death date, event location.  Records are in English.  The images are not of the actual death record but are rather pages of master death indexes in which the name you search appears. You would use the discovered death certificate number to go back to the county to ask for copy of full death record.

>  New Database – Virginia Colonial Records, 1607-1853; 112,000 records;   Stories, Memories and History Records; Indexed; Searchable; Images are of pages where resource resides; searchable by last name that can be entered via the template.  Results of search will lead you to the resource where the information can actually be obtained.  Page images are in English.

>  New Database – Shropshire, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1538-1812;  1.3 million records;  Birth, Marriage and Death Records; Indexed; Searchable; searchable by last name and other search limitations that can be entered via the template.  Can discover the name of the individual, event type, event date, event location, parish and possible naming of other relatives plus other information.  Records are in English.  No images of original records.

>  New Database – Saskatchewan, Canada, Catholic Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1867-1932 ; 164,000 records; Indexed; Browseable Images;  Can browse by parish and year range of records;   Can discover the name of the individual, event type, event date, event location, parish and possible naming of other relatives plus other information.  Records are in English.  Image linked to indexed name you search.

>  Tip From Crista – A particular database may have no connection to your research but you may still benefit from knowing about it.  As an example, there may be an Australian Outbound Passenger List database.  You may not have an Australian connection, but discovering that Outbound passenger records exists may allow you to consider to see if such records exist for the country associated with your ancestor.

>  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 has noted on past videos 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

Lots Of Podcasts At RadioPublic; Some Genealogy Podcasts Also Included; Can Search For All Kinds

Hi Everyone!

Like many of you, you start out searching for one thing, discover something else and then forget what your initial searching was for.

Yep, that can happen to me also, especially if the unexpected discovery is actually better than what you were initially looking for.

I happened to come across a nice website called “Radio Public” that is all about podcasts.  The site gives you information about connecting to this service via an app to access over 250,000 podcasts for free.  I was able to discover a link that allows you to search through this massive amount of podcasts for those that can be of interest to you without getting the app initially to gauge what material exists accessible within the app.

I was able to do a search of the material via a different website that goes by:

The main website without a search function (as best as I can see) is:

I did a search of the site using the “search” site name above for “genealogy” and “family history” and found some hits for podcasts in this area.  Some of the podcast episodes for some podcasters were copious, some not so.

While there is some genealogy podcast material you can find here, I wanted to share this resource for being able to search it for any kind of podcast topic of interest to you over and above genealogy.

Give it a try.

If you try searching using  “genealogy”, you will see 3 podcast creators, 2 of which are really genealogy and the other being more religious/bible oriented keying off of the term genealogy as it applies more biblical.

Try searching using  “family history” and you will also see 3 podcast creators to select from.  The one having the most episodes is “Family History Genealogy Made Easy Podcasts” created by Lisa Louise Cooke with 44 episodes.  The most recent episode is September 2014.  However, you can easily visit her website for the full amount of the podcasts (207 episodes going back at least to 2007-2008) she has on genealogy on her own website at:

Lisa Louise Cooke Genealogy Gems Podcasts 

You are not always going to hit a “home run” in finding what you are searching for relative to podcasts.  But Radio Public can sure open you up to searching for so much more than pure genealogy.  I had fun exploring and discovering genealogy material as well as just fun searches for all kinds of subject podcasts.

On the topic of “home runs” read on!

Try “Chicago Cubs” and find 239 episodes to pick from about “game recaps”.

Try “Chicago White Sox” and find 375 episodes of a variety of kinds to listen to, including game recaps.

Try “Chicago Bears” and find 5 separate podcast creators to select from to get all you want to know about the Chicago Bears.

Yes, some genealogy but you can find so much more here for your enjoyment.

Hope this resource makes you curious for what you can find.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


A Must Listen To Podcast!; Lisa Louise Cooke Interview With Diane Loosle Of FamilySearch Regarding the Discontinuance Of Microfilm Provisioning By FamilySearch; Important To Understand What Is Happening And What Are Your Workarounds

Hi Everyone!

Lisa Louise Cooke

As you all should be aware of by now, FamilySearch will be discontinuing the provisioning of microfilms to Family History Centers (FHC) as well as to Family History Center Affiliates like Public Libraries that participated in the program to receive microfilms for viewing at their location.

This program ends on August 31, 2017.

After August 31, 2017 you will no longer be able to order microfilms for viewing through FamilySearch.

Microfilms have been a mainstay of doing family history research since I started 20 years ago.  As with so many technology advancements we have experienced in the last 20 years, it now appears to be the turn for microfilms to say goodbye.  This termination can be accomplished because FamilySearch has made such incredible progress over the last 8 years since 2009 when FamilySearch announced they would be starting on a digitization project to convert their 1.5 million microfilms to digital images.

One of our regular participants made me aware of a very nice Podcast recorded by Lisa Louise Cooke who is a prominent figure in the world of genealogy.  I have not yet fully listened to the entire podcast but it does sound very informative about the discontinuance.  In fact Lisa has a very good interview with a key figure of FamilySearch who has much information to share to listeners about the discontinuance, its effects and alternatives to provide the material on microfilm that will no longer be accessible until it is converted to digital media for viewing.

The podcast is a “Special Episode” recorded by Lisa Louise Cooke titled “The End of FamilySearch Microfilm Lending Program”.  It is an approximate 27 minute podcast.

Here is the link to the special program:

Lisa Louise Cooke Podcast Titled “The End of FamilySearch Microfilm Lending Program”

Take a listen to the podcast.  I will be doing that very soon.

Hopefully, anything you may have needed on their microfilms exists in digital format for you to access online from home or online through a Family History Center.  It is the residual films that are not yet digitized that may be the problem for you for accessibility.  FamilySearch has a target to complete the digitization of films still needing conversion over the next 3 years to 2020.  It is my understanding that the order of conversion will be determined by the frequency of which these films have been requested over the past.  Maybe your film falls into that category and you may be able to access this material in 2018 rather than in 2020.

It does make sense to me to prioritize conversions based on frequency of use. Just hope that a film you might be interested is not one that has had no demand for use.  If so, you may not see that digitized until 2020.

Check out the above link to the podcast.  I can’t wait to fully listen to it.

A big “Thank You” to Don G. for sharing the link with me.

Enjoy the podcast.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


Polish Genealogical Resources At The Newberry Library In Chicago; Handout From Recent Polish Genealogical Society Of America Genealogy Program At Our Library

Hi Everyone!

Grace DuMelle, a Reference Librarian at the Newberry Library, gave a genealogy presentation at our library on August 20, 2017 for the Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA).  The program title for the afternoon was “Polish GEMS at the Newberry Library”.  As part of the presentation, Grace did bring in some handouts.

One of her handouts was a nice compilation of a variety of Polish Resources that are at the Newberry Library that can help you in your Polish genealogical research.  It provides resources according to the following categories:

  • Guides and Bibliographies
  • Maps and Gazetteers
  • Biographical Resources
  • Surnames
  • Nobility and Heraldry
  • Jewish Resources
  • Roman Catholic Resources
  • Immigration
  • Chicago Resources
  • Periodicals
  • Dictionaries and Translation Resources
  • Resources Elsewhere in Chicago

I did notice that the paper handout she provided can also be found at the Newberry Library website under Polish Resources.

Here is a link to see the list of Polish resources that can be found at the Newberry Library:

Polish Genealogy Resources at the Newberry Library

If you access the material through the link above, you will also be able to access the additional links contained in the list from the website of the Newberry Library.

If you are doing Polish genealogy research it is probably a good idea to at least view this list of resource materials.  Perhaps you have become familiar with some of them but you may also discover new ones you were not aware of.

The list of resources is a very long list of Polish research resources to check out.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


New And Improved “Chicago Ancestors” Website From The Newberry Library

Hi Everyone!

Grace DuMelle, a reference librarian at the Newberry Library, was a recent speaker at our library in a co-hosted program with the Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA).  One of her handouts for her program was a “postcard” type advertisement for the Chicago Ancestors site created by the Newberry Library.

I was able to obtain one of these advertisements for the site and I wanted to share that with you.  Here is a link to view the handout “postcard” advertisement for “Chicago Ancestors”:

Chicago Ancestors “Postcard” Handout Advertisement

The site is fantastic if you have Chicago ancestors, as I do, in your genealogical research.  The website features much about the various local communities in Chicago and is a map interactive process.  The site is very helpful if you know the location where your ancestors lived in Chicago.  You can enter in a street address or street intersections and see what the website can provide to you about those locations and things around that location.

Here is the link for you to try:

New and Improved “Chicago Ancestors” Website Created by the Newberry Library

One of the interesting features you will find in this resource is the “Crime” designation information for the designated area of an address you input.  You can designate the radius of how many miles from your input location that you will see results.  The site will give you information and an exact map location on what major crimes took place within the designated mileage from the address you input and when they occurred e.g “murder/homicide”.  It is eerie information that can connect to the time frame of when your ancestors may have lived nearby and what they would have more than likely been able to read and experience about the event when it occurred.

Another interesting feature included in the results shows you church names that are in the designated radius you select to find material.  This can be very helpful to you to find the churches that your ancestors may have attended.  with a possible church identification that then allows you the option to discover if church records exist for that church that may be connected to the time of your ancestor in the area.

Give the site a try to see what other tidbits of information you can discover that can connect you to the time when your ancestor lived in Chicago at a particular location.

If you don’t know of an address, you can choose from a pre-set list of communities offered within the site e.g. Humboldt Park, West Town, Portage Park etc.

The site also offers an advanced search feature that you can search by “topic”, “community”, “start year”, “end year” and other choices.

It is a fun site to search.  Give it a try.  See what you can discover about events and other things connected to the location your ancestors lived at in the City of Chicago.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


DNA Testing For Genealogy; Look Before You Leap!; Life-Changing Events Can Happen From Your Results; Link To Article Included

Hi Everyone!

I wanted to share with you a link that was sent to me from one of our genealogy program participants.

The link will get you to a lengthy story from the July 27, 2017 Washington Post about how your DNA testing for genealogy can provide you with more mysteries and life-changing possibilities than you ever wanted to discover.

DNA testing for genealogy is the hot thing.  Many of our genealogy programs participants have submitted their DNA for testing, often initially being tested with autosomal DNA analysis.  I have submitted my DNA for such testing and have recently had a wonderful connection to an unknown cousin who is an outstanding genealogical researcher.  Results like this are the really positive side of DNA testing for genealogy.

Check out the link below to get a different perspective on DNA testing for genealogy.  The results are not always what you expect which can be challenging and life changing.  After reading the article I am thankful that my DNA results were completely boring and matched to the assumptions I have carried throughout my whole life.

July 27, 2017 Washington Post Article Titled “She Thought She Was Irish — Until a DNA Test Opened a 100 Year Old Mystery”

I have personally heard the stories of at least 2 individuals whose test results showed that they were not who they thought they were.

You have to be prepared to receive results that will turn your world upside down!

Thank you Francis for sharing the article link with me!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library