Saturday, August 31, 2013

Researching Occupations

There are several places you can search to find the employee records of your ancestors. If you already know your ancestor's occupation or employer, here are some records you may want to search for.

Labor Union Records
Most labor unions kept membership records. Some records may be available at local archives but most will be held at union headquarters. If you're looking for Chicago-area records, you can contact the Illinois Labor History Museum for information about local unions and labor movements.

Railroad Records
Chicago is a great place to research railroad employee records. Railroad workers are interesting in that they received their own Social Security Numbers and their own special pensions. Pension records for railroad employees can be found at the Railroad Retirement Board in Chicago. The Chicago History Museum also has records for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Official Church Records
Many denominations kept or published directories of clergymen often with biographical information for each member of the clergy. These can be located at local church archives or at denomination headquarters.

Professional & Licensing Associations
Legal professionals are required to register with the state after passing the bar exam. Law directories have been published regularly since the 19th century and can often be found in law libraries or legal association archives. The American Medical Association has been keeping records on licensed medical practitioners since the 1800s as well. Many state archives will also have license records for lawyers, doctors, teachers, and any other professions that require licenses.

Indenture & Apprentice Records
If you're researching colonial ancestors you may find indenture or apprentice records. Information found in these records will vary but many of them will contain: the name of the apprentice, a parent or guardian's name, who they're being apprenticed to, location and length of the apprenticeship, the title of the trade and the types of skills the apprentice will be expected to perform. Some of these records will be government documents, others may belong to a church, some may have been more informal, private arrangements.

Other Places to Look:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Celebrate Your Ancestors' Labor

On this upcoming Labor Day weekend, we will celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. What did your ancestors do for a living? Researching your ancestors vital information is important but discovering your ancestors' occupations can help flesh out their lives and give you some interesting insight into how the family lived and their status within their communities.

Some common sources to discover your ancestors' occupations include:
  • Census records
  • City Directories
  • Obituaries
  • Newspapers
  • Tombstones (Check out this tombstone in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago!)
  • Social Security Administration SS-5 Application Form
  • Wills
  • Probate Records
  • Pension Records

This is probably one of the most interesting--and revealing--genealogy topics you can research!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Genealogy First Tuesdays

Genealogy First Tuesdays starts up again next Tuesday, September 3 at 2pm!

Drop by the Genealogy & Local History Room anytime between 2:00 and 4:30 to research and to meet other genealogy enthusiasts. Share your favorite research tips and tools and help us break down our brick walls.

You can register at the Reference Desk, by phone (847-729-7500 x7700), or online.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Glenview History Center Civil War Encampment

The Glenview History Center will be commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War at the History Center's historic 1864 house museum grounds on Saturday, August 31 and Sunday, September 1, 10am-4pm.

Living history presented by:

Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War
Camp Custer
Sons of the Veterans Reserve
US Signal Corps & Infantry
1st Michigan Engineers
General George Thomas
Traveling Civil War Museum


Friday, August 23, 2013

Digging Up Family Roots in Sicily

There was a great article in this past Sunday's New York Times about author Russell Shorto's trip to Sicily to discover his family's origins. This is the sort of research trip every genealogist dreams of!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dinner with the Kennicotts

For an evening of dinner and outdoor theater, the Glenview Park District is inviting the public to learn more about the area’s most prominent, historical family.

 Dinner with the Kennicotts is Sept. 6 at The Grove nature and education center, 1421 Milwaukee Ave., where park district employees will perform a 40-minute play portraying the Kennicott family in the pavilion. 

The dinner includes starters and beverages in the Kennicott house, a buffet dinner at the Redfield Estate and interaction with the actors.

Horticulturalist and medical doctor John Kennicott brought his family to Glenview from New Orleans in 1836. They lived in a log cabin until he built his home in 1856 for his family. Kennicott’s son, Robert, was a noted naturalist and explorer who founded the Chicago Society Academy of Science in 1956 and served on the Illinois Natural History Society.

Read more at the Glenview Announcements.

Dinner with the Kennicotts is 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 6 at The Grove. For ticket information, call (847) 299-6096 or register at Park Center, 2400 Chestnut Ave., Glenview.

If you want more information about the Kennicotts, the Glenview Public Library has the Kennicott family papers on microfilm in the Genealogy & Local History Room.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair

On September 3-4, the National Archives will be hosting its first ever Virtual Genealogy Fair. The seminars will be available live via webcast and the recorded sessions will be made available later.

They don't have the schedule of speakers yet but topics will include: Native American and African American history, immigration, Civil War pensions, US Colored Troops, and Navy Deck logs.

Continue to check the NARA website for updates.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Studs Terkel in Glenview

I recently discovered Media Burn, an independent archive of video footage with a focus on Chicago.

I found the following video that was produced by the Glenview Community Church and Glenview Television. The video is a recording of Studs Terkel discussing his book Will the Circle be Unbroken? at the Glenview Community Church in September 2001. Glenview village president Larry Carlson and Minister Howard Roberts also appear in the video. There's also a Q&A session with the audience.

It's Studs Terkel so, of course, it's a great video and worth watching.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are? is now airing on Tuesdays nights on TLC but full episodes of the new season are available on the TLC website.

You can now watch the latest episode where Zooey Deschanel discovers her Quaker roots and learns about their abolitionist history.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BillionGraves is a website with an interesting premise. The site encourages users to download an app to their smartphone or tablet and take pictures of gravestones at cemeteries they visit. The app uses the phone's GPS to identify the cemetery and will tag every photo's location exactly. The app uploads the photos automatically to the website and maps the locations of the photos. Volunteers online look at the photos that have been uploaded and transcribe the information off of the headstones into a searchable database.

BillionGraves hopes to eventually have photos of one billion graves
(or more!) searchable on their website. The site has been around for a couple of years but it's growing in popularity and already has an extensive collection of graves in the US.

The database itself is easy to use and GPS tagging also makes it simple to visit a cemetery and find the location of a specific grave site too. While the database is not quite as extensive as FindAGrave, the site is growing all the time. That's the charm of BillionGraves. It's incredibly easy for users to help grow the collection by choosing to either go out and photograph grave sites or by just sitting at the computer, transcribing what others have already uploaded.

If you want to help with photographing graves, the app can be downloaded for free through Android Market/Google Play or the iPhone App Store.