Friday, May 29, 2015

European Genealogy

Are you ready to "jump the pond" and start researching your ancestors in Europe but don't know how to get started? Join us for a class on Friday, June 5 at 10 am and learn how to find your ancestors in European sources!

Register online or call the Reference Desk at 847-729-7500 x7700.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Researching Common Last Names

Trying to find ancestors with common surnames can be daunting. Dr. Henry Louis Gates and Meaghan Siekman offer some helpful research strategies in their genealogy column at The Root.

In particular, I like their idea of researching related families:
Even if people in one of your lines had a common surname, they may have married or were closely associated with people who had less-common surnames. If your Tom Jones married Catharine Hornburg, you’ll want to focus on researching the Hornburg family. Documents for associated families, particularly land and probate records, may mention your ancestors. 
In addition to families that married into your Jones family, pay attention to their neighbors or to people who served as witnesses to your family’s wills, land records, marriages and births. People often migrated and settled with people they knew, and if you notice a pattern of the same surnames always living near your family or participating in major events of the family, it may be worth doing a bit of research on them, too.
Great tip!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Immigration Records Class

Need help understanding immigration and naturalization records and where to find them? Register for our class on May 20 at 2pm. Sign up online or call the Reference Desk at 847-729-7500 x7700.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Hidden Half of the Family

Celebrate your female ancestors this Mother's Day and track down those maiden names!

One of my favorite reference books is The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy. This excellent resource will help you find the records you need to find maiden names and other genealogical records of women.

Women have not always had the same legal standing in the US as men so they do not show up in government records the same way as your male ancestors. This book explains the changing legal status of women throughout the years and how these laws differed state by state.  By understanding how your female ancestors interacted with the government, you can figure out which government records are likely to mention her.

For instance, a woman was not allowed to devise a will in Illinois until 1872 so don't look for female ancestors' wills in Illinois before that date.

Aside from the history of women's legal status in the US, The Hidden Half of the Family also provides an excellent bibliography of women's resources for each state, lists where to find marriage records, and provides a directory of important archives. This is an essential resource for women's genealogy!

If you need more help with search strategies, see A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jewish American Heritage Month

May is Jewish American Heritage Month.

If you're researching your Jewish ancestry, you'll want to visit the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois in Northbrook. The have a research library with over 800 volumes on Jewish genealogy and host programs once a month. JGSI also maintains a searchable Online Death Index, a database of death records from local cemeteries.

Another great local resource is the Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland by Mike Karsen.