Category Archives: Tips

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

Arlington Heights Memorial Library Will Present Genealogy Program On Saturday November 8, 2014 From 10 AM To 12 Noon; “Guide To Hanover Military Records, 1514-1866, On Microfilm At The Family History Library”; Presented By Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG

Hi Everyone!

Hanover Military Records Book CoverI received a program notice from the Arlington Heights Memorial Library on an upcoming genealogy program they will offer on Saturday, November 8, 2014 from 10 AM to 12 Noon.

The program is titled “Hanover Military Records, 1514-1866, on Microfilm at the Family History Library”.  The presenter will be Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG,  the author of the book upon which the presentation is based.

Registration is required through the library website at  Or you can call the library directly at 847-392-0100 for help to register.

Here is the text description of the program provided to me by Michael Mulholland, the Genealogy Librarian at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library:


Cardinal Room

11/08/2014 – 10:00am – 12:00pm

Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, Certified Genealogist and German research expert will discuss her research and publication of Guide to Hanover Military Records, 1514–1866, on Microfilm at the Family History Library. Military records for the former Kingdom of Hanover in Germany can include a soldier’s date and place of birth, his father’s name, and widows’ pensions. This publication is the only English-language guide to this gold mine of information for genealogists. With this guide, a researcher can quickly determine all available records for a regiment and time period and know where to find them in the Family History Library’s (FHL) microfilm holdings in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Presenter Teresa S. McMillin, C.G.
No Library Card Required


Teresa is an outstanding genealogy speaker.  We have had her at our own library making genealogical presentations.  She will return back to our library for a future presentation in April 2015.

We have added her recently published book to our own circulating collection to help you  in your own Germanic research.

If you have any research that connects you to the Hanover area of Germany for your own ancestors, this might be a good opportunity to hear Teresa share her knowledge about the military records that exist for this area of Germany.  Your own German ancestors may have served in the Hanover military and you might be able to be found in the records Teresa has written about in her book.

Just knowing what resources exist for your own research needs is often half the battle!

You can also visit the website for Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG to see further information related to her and her book at:

Hanover Military Records by Teresa Steinkamp McMillin

Check out her upcoming program at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


“Beginner’s Guide To Genetic Genealogy”; Series Of 16 Lessons; Can Help You Better Understand The Process From A Layman’s Point Of View; From The Wheaton Surname Resources Website

Hi Everyone!

CAGGNI logoI was browsing through the October 2014 Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) newsletter and saw what looked like a very interesting suggested Internet link they identified in their “Around the Web” part of the newsletter.

The link will get you to the “Beginner’s Guide to Genetic Genealogy”.  This guide is part of the Wheaton Surname Resources blog that you can access directly at:

Wheaton Surname Resources Blog “Beginner’s Guide To Genetic Genealogy”

Let’s be honest.  If you are not scientifically oriented, DNA for genealogy can make your head spin and your eyes glaze over!  Most of us get lost in the weeds when we try to better understand the background of a DNA test and how it can improve your understanding of your genealogy connections to others in the test pool of other DNA submitters.

Here is another chance for you to improve your understanding of DNA and genealogy.

The site itself provides some good general DNA background information before you even get to the lessons.

The guide consists of 16 Lessons.  The lessons are presented as text lessons.  They are not audio or video lessons.  You just have to get comfortable and work your way through them by reading.

The 16 Lessons are titled as follows:

  • LESSON 1: An Overview of the Types of DNA Used By Genetic Genealogists
  • LESSON 2: Which DNA Test
  • LESSON 3: YDNA Exploring the Y Part 1
  • LESSON 4: YDNA Part 2
  • LESSON 5: Introduction to atDNA
  • LESSON 6: atDNA Nuts and Bolts
  • LESSON 7: atDNA Ancestral Origins Part 1
  • LESSON 8: atDNA Ancestral Origins Part 2
  • LESSON 9: atDNA Matches
  • LESSON 10: atDNA More with Matches
  • LESSON 11: Deeper Exploration by Subject
  • LESSON 12: Chromosome Mapping
  • LESSON 13: Privacy, Paranoia, Patience and Persistence
  • LESSON 14: More With the Y
  • LESSON 15: The Future of Y Testing is Here
  • LESSON 16: Using Third Party Tools for Medical Implications

Even I was beginning to get a better understanding of the overall process.

I think this is a site that can really help you better understand DNA and genealogy.  The lessons are not overwhelmingly long.  You will find further resources at the end of each lessons as links to other aids.  Many of the lessons include charts and other visuals.

I would recommend taking a real good look at Lesson 2 that identifies and compares the top DNA testing companies that are available to pick from.  The companies noted in Lesson 2 are:

  • Family Tree DNA(FTDNA)
  • National Genographic 2.0

Sometimes just selecting a DNA tester is the hardest part.  The “Pros” “Cons” and the “DNA Tester Future” are very handy to help you through ultimately choosing a DNA tester.

It was sure timely for me to notice this great link mentioned in the October 2014 CAGGNI Newsletter!

I think you will like what you see when browse through the lessons.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“What’s New At October 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 October 2014 video posted from that is titled “What’s New At October 2014″.

The video is an approximate 17 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 – Oklahoma City Ancestry Day, November 7-8, 2014, Oklahoma City, OK; Roots Tech 2015 and Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) (Combined Conferences), February 12 to 14, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT.
  • New Database – Birmingham, England Rate Books 1831-1913.  This database can give you information about owners of property and renters of property in Birmingham, England.  The value of a property is noted.  Who lived at the location.  Who owned the property and even what the rental amount was if it was rented out.
  • New Database – FindAGrave International Indexes Updated to reflect content by Country of origin rather than just being in one large database.  You can now see the magnitude of records if they exist in a country’s database.  Canada shows over 2 million FindAGrave records while Sweden and Norway show only about 20,000 records in their database files.
  • New Database – Canadian National Railway Immigrant Records, 1937-1960.  As Canada expanded westward with population, immigrants’ information was obtained as they used the railway to move westward.  You can find completed immigrant questionnaires that can contain multiple pages/images of data.
  • New Database – Tennessee Valley Cemetery Relocation Files, 1933-1990.  During the construction of dams in the Tennessee Valley Authority it became necessary to relocate both living individuals and those that were deceased and buried in cemeteries because flooding of old habitats was an end result of the project.  There are about 400,000 records in this database of names of grave sites that were moved during this project.
  • New Database – New England Select United Methodist Church Records, 1787-1922.  These are select records and do not represent the totality of all the records.  Can discover birth, marriage, death records and membership records of individuals in the church.
  • Research Reminders #1 – Read the complete database descriptions for the newly added material to know what is contained and what is NOT contained.  Don’t just search!
  • Research Reminder #2 – Understand the records you are looking at when you are searching a newly added database.  Knowing what is there will help you create better search terms for better results.  Just create a “test” input search to see the results.
  • Crista spent a good time on this video noting that it is important to consider “browsing” records rather than always searching indexed databases.  Browsing databases are those that have not yet been indexed.  You cannot search these but the data as images is available for you to look through.  The data is generally subdivided into manageable viewing components.  Think of it as viewing a microfilm online.  Look at an individual database via the “Card Catalog” and look to see if it has a “Browse Box” that allows you to look at the data but not be able yet to search it.  The “browse box” implies the data is not yet indexed for direct searching.

You can view this video directly here:

Crista does an excellent job of sharing what is new at that can make your use of the product even more effective and beneficial with your family history research.  She shows you via her computer screen what to look for at the site.

I also did a search on YouTube looking for similarly titled videos and did discover that there are many “What’s New At” videos on YouTube going back at least until April of 2012.  These series of videos are a great tool to use to review going back in time so you keep current with all that is being offered and added to

Here is a simple link to my search in YouTube that will give you this nice list of these videos posted to YouTube that you can do some catching up on to know about all of the new things at

“What’s New At” YouTube Videos

The host does a very good job verbally describing the new additions as well as showing you the new things at Ancestry via screencasting.  That allows you to see her computer screen as she points out the various “new” things you may see at and where they are located.

Because so many of us use, either via a personal subscription or by using the Ancestry product at our local libraries, these YouTube videos are quite informative to keep users up to date with new features that take root on  The host provides even more depth to the importance of the change and even why it was done.

I think you will enjoy the most recent video above as well as looking at the link above for even more of these videos.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

“Try-It! Illinois 2014″ Free Database Access Available Through November 30, 2014; Request Log-In ID/Password From Illinois Secretary Of State; Approximately 29 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 2014″.

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 2014 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 2014

This trial is open to users through November 30, 2014.

Here is a little write-up at the Try-It Illinois 2014 website describing more about this Try-It Illinois 2014 access:

About Try-It!

Welcome to Try-It! Illinois 2014, the fourteenth 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.

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 29 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.

Many of the databases within this list are databases our library currently subscribes to.  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. “Visual Thesaurus”.  But, nonetheless, it is in the list of 29 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, 29 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, 2014 to November 30, 2014.

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 29 databases categorized as being for Genealogy and Family History.

See what you think.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library