Category Archives: Tips

“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

Genealogy TV Shows Everywhere You Look!; Now CNN Is Getting Into The Action; Starting Sunday October 12, 2014 At 9 PM Eastern, 8 PM Central; 12 CNN Personalities Explore Their Roots Through October 20, 2014

Hi Everyone!

CNN LogoAre you getting overwhelmed with all of the variety of TV shows about some famous personality having their “roots” exposed?

Well if you are getting tired of all of these shows then you will soon have more pain to bear.  If you can’t get enough of these shows then consider that your ship has come in with more personalities to learn about.

CNN has announced that starting Sunday October 12 a new short-lived series titled “Journey to Find Their “Roots” will air.

Here is a link to the CNN portion of their website where you can find all of the detail about “who” “when” and “where” for you to tune in to this 8 day series:

October 12, 2014 to October 20, 2014 CNN “Journey to Find Their “Roots”” Series

The link will give you a list of the CNN personalities that will be part of the series and when their individual episode will air.  There will be a lot of TV time activity showcasing the personalities during a relatively short time interval.

Some days will have multiple CNN personalities showcased at different times throughout the day.  The link above gives you all of the details about what personality’s story will take place and what time it will air.

It is always worth taking a look at and compare to the existing genealogy TV shows like “Who Do You Think You Are?”,  “Genealogy Roadshow” “Finding Your Roots” just to see how this new short-term entry competes in this group.

I just wanted to share with you that another genealogy TV series awaits you should you choose to take the mission.


Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Our Library Has Purchased A 1936 “Chicago Suburban Telephone Directory” Published By The Illinois Bell Telephone Company; We Purchased It From eBay

STDL Central Summer LgHi Everyone!

Just to let you know of an interesting purchase our library recently made that will now be a resource.

Jane Rozek our Local History librarian arranged to make purchase of a 1936 Chicago Suburban Telephone Directory from eBay.  It is being processed for addition to our collection.

The directory is a straight alphabetical listing that incorporates residences and businesses into one list.

Jane noted to us that even back in 1936 towns such as Crystal Lake, McHenry, Antioch, Fox Lake and Zion were considered Chicago suburbs as there are listings for these towns in the directory.

A nice thing about this print directory is that it is dated in-between the 1930 and 1940 US Census.  This means it can be a useful tool for tracking ancestors in-between census years, assuming they lived in a “suburban” area outside of the city of Chicago.

One major issue is that the paper directory is in a very “fragile” state.  Because of this it will NOT be made available for public use.  For the time being it will be in the possession of Jane Rozek our Local History librarian.  Perhaps at some point in the future the directory can be digitized and made available electronically at some future date.

Jane has offered to do “look-ups” for names in the directory.  You can send Jane an e-mail request to do a look-up at   I actually looked up the name of my “uncle” that lived in Cary, IL at this time.  I found him listed, with an accompanying address and “occupation”.  Please remember, this is considered a “phone directory” not a “city directory”.

What is the difference?

A city directory captured the names of anyone living in the town.  This process was done generally before 1930 when phone service was not so dominant.  This is a phone directory, hence, a family had to have a phone and phone service to be considered for entry in this book.

Consequently, an ancestor of yours might very well have lived in one of the suburbs included in this directory.  Unfortunately, they might not have had telephone service and would therefore not be listed in the book.

I will let you know of future developments for this directory as to its availability to the public.  For now if you have an interest in getting a “look-up” of an ancestral name perhaps living in the suburban Chicago area in 1936 (hopefully with a telephone!) then contact Jane at

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

Finding A Long-Lost Ancestor On The Streets Of Chicago; Concise “How To” Using Good Research Logic From The Huffington Post

Hi Everyone!

Huffington Post LogoA colleague of mine at the library provided me with a link to a very nice little “tip” on how to go about discovering some information about a Chicago ancestor that you may have.

The “tip” was found at the Huffington Post.  It looks like it was authored by both Loretto Dennis Szucs and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., both well-known genealogy figures.  Loretto is connected with  Henry is connected with the PBS Genealogy TV show “Finding Your Roots”.

Thanks to my colleague Tom for making me aware of this.

I always enjoy being able to see a question submitted to experts turned into a great learning experience that also answers the question at the same time.  That is what this little “tip” entails.

It is nice for both “problem-solving” as well as providing some nice graphic document examples used in the problem-solving experience.

If you have Chicago ancestors and are doing research in this area, this is worth your while to take a look at via the following link:

Finding A Long-Last Ancestor on the Streets of Chicago Teaching Tip From the October 5, 2014 Huffington Post

I liked the question posed to the experts.  It has good details from which to start researching.   The experts take you through the analysis process bringing in to bear the many genealogy resources we have to consider when researching, e.g. City Directories, Street Maps, Census Data etc.

Check it out.  It can help you with a “road-map” to uncover information about an elusive Chicago ancestor or just about any ancestor when you think through your research strategy starting with what you know.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library


Daily Herald Interview Of Jennifer Holik Regarding Genealogy And World War I And World War II Military Records

Hi Everyone!

Jennifer Holik

Jennifer Holik

Military Records research can often be a large part of your genealogy research.  Many of us might focus on the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican American War, Civil War and other more distant past wars that our ancestors may have been involved in as participants.

World War I and World War II research can now be a large part of our own research in a more contemporaneous manner because of their proximity to our own lives.  It really is hard to believe that World War I is actually being commemorated with the 100th year anniversary this year in 2014.

Jennifer Holik is known for her expertise in World War I and World II military records research.  She was recently interviewed extensively by the local Daily Herald newspaper about the very subject.  I think reading the article about the subject is something that could really help you in your own approach to searching for the World War I and World War II records that may be out there related to your more recent ancestors (and many that are still with us who served so honorably in world War II).

Jennifer will be coming to our library on Tuesday Evening, May 12, 2015 and Tuesday evening, November 10, 2015 and making her presentations related to World War I and World War II Military Research for genealogy.

Here is a link to the September 30, 2014 online version of the article interviewing Jennifer Holik:

September 30, 2014 Online Daily Herald Article/Interview of Jennifer Holik, World War I and World War II Military Records Expert

The article was published in the “real” paper version of the Daily Herald on October 2, 2014 in the Neighborhood Section of the issue.

I encourage you to take note of the series of Q & A that appears in the article past the initial paragraphs.  I thought there was some very good questions posed and some equally great responses from Jennifer.  If nothing else you actually do have a good chance of making some military records discoveries from World War I and World War II.  All of the records did not burn in a fire.  Plus you now have more open accessibility to the records, no longer having to show you are next of kin when the records you seek are for someone who has died or who was discharged by 1952.

You can also visit the website of Jennifer Holik and take a look at her “Resources” and “World War II Toolbox” links to obtain further help in your quest for tracking down World War I and World War II Military Records.

Jennifer Holik, Author Website

I am looking forward to having Jennifer at our library in May and November 2015 to make her presentations.  Her expertise and popularity continue to grow and grow!  Jennifer notes her upcoming visits and presentations in her website noted above.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library



(Updated) Newberry Library Offers Genealogy And Local History Tours And Orientations On First Saturdays Of The Month In 2014 – 2015

Hi Everyone,

Newberry Library LogoGinger Frere, a frequent speaker at our own genealogy programs and a librarian at the Newberry Library, has made me aware that the Newberry offers an introductory genealogy orientation and tour of the Newberry on Saturdays.

She has just provided me with an updated schedule of these events for the balance of 2014 and for the full year 2015.

Here are the dates for the balance of 2014:

  • October 4, 2014 @ 9:30 AM
  • November 1, 2014 @ 9:30 AM
  • December 6, 2014 @ 9:30 AM

There are times when the library needs to change the date from the 1st Saturday of the month to the 2nd Saturday of the month.  Oftentimes it is as a result of a holiday occurring in the first week time period.  Please be aware that this can happen.  Such changes are always noted by the Newberry.

Here are the dates for 2015:

  • January 3, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • February 7, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • March 14, 2015 (2nd Saturday) @ 9:30 AM
  • April 4, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • May 2, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • June 6, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • July 11, 2015 (2nd Saturday) @ 9:30 AM
  • August 1, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • September 12, 2015 (2nd Saturday) @ 9:30 AM
  • October 3, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • November 7, 2015 @ 9:30 AM
  • December 5, 2015 @ 9:30 AM

The Newberry is located at 60 West Walton in Chicago, IL.  The phone number for the Newberry is 312-255-3700.

The program/orientation on using the Newberry’s collection starts at 9:30 AM.  The initial orientation takes about 1 hour.  A short tour of the library follows the orientation.

There is no pre-registration.  There is no cost.

The program is aimed at those new to using the Newberry and those new to the genealogical process.

Here is a link to the flyer that you can read from the Newberry that provides a description of the event:

2014/2015 Genealogy and Local History Tours and Orientation Programs of  the Newberry Library

If you have never been to the Newberry but are an experienced genealogy researcher, you may want to take advantage of these programs for the balance of 2014 and for 2015 to learn about the collections and resources of the Newberry.

If you are a new genealogy researcher, this orientation is also geared for you to learn how to begin your research plus you too will also learn about the Newberry and how it can  help your research.

I have placed these event dates into the Google Calendar that is also part of this blog.

Read the full flyer that is linked above.

Sounds like a great opportunity to visit the Newberry if you have never previously been there and then be able to get a nice orientation and tour of the facility.

Something to consider!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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

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 – Tennessee Ancestry Library Day, September 19-20, 2014, Nashville, TN; URL; 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.
  • Ancestry Updated iOS Mobile App; Hints, Push Notifications
  • New Content! – 1.2  Million new records added for 4 countries in the Ancestry databases.
  • Updated Data Base – 1920 US Federal Census – more indexed fields have been added to the data allowing more search entry fields in the template, e.g. marital status, own home etc.
  • Updated Data Base – United States Yearbooks Collection – 26,000 new yearbooks have been added containing 296 million records.
  • Updated Data Base – New York City Birth Index, 1878-1909.
  • Updated Data Base – Philadelphia Passenger Lists – now includes passenger records that includes 1944 to 1948 records.
  • 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