Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Free Online Genealogy Courses

Do you love free genealogy webinars and online classes? Here are a few websites to bookmark:

Use the Learning Center on FamilySearch to find hundreds of online genealogy courses. These online classes cover all aspects of genealogy research. You can watch five minute basic genealogy training courses or watch a series of  videos that explore one topic in-depth. Learn how to conduct research in Poland, decipher German handwriting, or gain a better understanding of probate records.

Ancestry has a YouTube channel with videos on different aspects of research using Ancestry.com, AncestryDNA, FamilyTrees, and more.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society regularly updates their free webinar offerings. You must create a free account with NEHGS to view the videos. Most of their offerings cover the colonial era and New England research but you can webinars on a variety of other subjects as well.

Did you know that all Illinois State Genealogical Society live-broadcast webinars are free and open to the public? Webinars are broadcast on the second Tuesday of each month. After the live broadcast, you do have to be a member of ISGS to view their archived webinars. You can find their schedule here.

And don't forget to use GeneaWebinars to find free webinars from genealogical and historical organizations from across the US!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Israel Genealogy Research Association

The Israel Genealogy Research Association maintains an excellent genealogy site that's helpful for both Israeli and general Jewish genealogy. 

The site is free to use but you do have to create an account with them before you can access their databases and resources. You will need to be a paid member to view some of the images in their collections. 

Searchable database collections include vital records, censuses, address books, immigration, military records, and more. Searches can be done in both English and Hebrew. These record collections are primarily for Israel but you may be able to find records created in Jewish communities elsewhere. They are constantly adding new collections to their databases as well.

The IGRA has also created some amazing and comprehensive research guides for Jewish genealogy in specific countries too. These guides contain lots of great resources. For example, the guide for Poland includes maps, translations, links to Jewish vital records, ghettos and concentration camps, Jewish cemeteries and military records.

You can also watch free videos and webinars on a variety of genealogy topics.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index

Beginning in 1820, the US government ordered that all ship manifests and passenger lists be handed over to customs officials upon arrival in the country. These records are held by the National Archives and are available to search on Ancestry.

If your ancestor arrived in America before 1820, finding passenger lists becomes more difficult. Often you must rely on print resources to find these early immigration records.

One of the best resources for these passenger lists is Passenger and Immigration Lists Index by P. William Filby (often just referred to as 'Filby's').  This is an index to published immigration lists found in periodicals or reference books. Supplements to the original three volume index are published annually.

Filby's now contains over five million records. You must search the original three volume set and each supplemental volume which can be time consuming--but is well worth the effort! Filby's may seem intimidating but it is actually easy to use.

To use Filby's, search for your ancestor's name. Each volume is arranged alphabetically by last name and each entry may include a birthdate, the port entry and the date of entry. There will also be a source identification number and page number. Once you find your ancestor, make a note of the source and page number. At the front of the volume, you'll find all of the print resources listed by their source number. You can find some of these resources in the Glenview Public Library. The others you can locate with WorldCat.

For example, I search for Alexander Sessions and find him listed in one of the volumes. The information I find shows that Alexander Sessions arrived in Massachusetts in 1677. The source number is 3274 and the page number is 213.

Next, I search for source number 3274 at the front of the volume. 3274 is the number for the book: Directory of the Ancestral Heads of New England Families. I will find Alexander Sessions on page 213 of this book.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Military Records Class at GPL

Military records can help you learn more about your ancestors who served in the armed forces but they can also tell you a lot about other family members and provide great genealogical clues (including those ever elusive maiden names!). Discover how to find and use military records in your family history research this Tuesday at 10 AM. Register online or call the Reference Desk at 847-729-7500.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tips for Finding Maiden Names

Researching female ancestors presents several problems. As a result of women's legal and social status at various points in history, it's difficult to find records specifically about them. Finding maiden names can be particularly frustrating for a genealogist. Here are a few tips for finding those elusive maiden names: 
  1. Marriage records are the most obvious place to find your ancestor's maiden name. If you can't find a certificate in the county records, try searching for church or religious records that may have been created for the marriage. And don't forget to search the local newspaper for wedding announcements. 
  2. Search the cemetery where she is buried. Sometimes a maiden name is listed on her tombstone or she may have been buried near her family members or even in the family graveyard. Research the people in nearby graves and look at the burial records for the cemetery. Her maiden name may also be included in an obituary or on her death certificate. 
  3. Research each of her children--even the ones not directly in your family line. Her maiden name may be listed on a marriage or death record for one of her children. Also, look at the names of witnesses to a marriage or to a religious or legal proceeding. These witnesses may be her relatives. 
  4. Sometimes the best way to find information about a woman is by researching the men in her life. Look closely at all documents relating to her husband. Her maiden name or her relatives may be mentioned in his records.
  5. You can always find clues in probate or land records or military pension applications. A woman or her family may be mentioned in a will as an heir or as a witness. Occasionally, husbands may purchase or receive land from their in-laws. Military pensions are an excellent resource for finding information about women. Details about a veteran's marriage are often included in pension applications.
  6. Look for a repetition of names in the family. They could be names associated with her family. Women also often gave their children her maiden name as a middle name. 
  7. Study census records carefully. Older members in the household may be the wife's parents. Families sometimes took in young relatives too so research the names of everyone listed in the household even if a familial relationship is not obvious. Also, look at the names of the families around the household. The family may have lived next to the wife's relatives.
  8. Once you have a possible maiden name, start researching all of the local families with that name. Look at old census records and find a family with a daughter with the same age and name as your ancestor. You may have to make inferences and assumptions but document all of your evidence!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

DNA, Behind the Scenes

Come learn about DNA and genealogy on Saturday, March 12.

DNA testing has become part of genealogy, but what does it really mean? What are the different tests? Why do they tell us different things? Where did we get the different components of our genetic heritage? Who should be tested? How can DNA testing be used to attack genealogical problems? Dan Hubbard will explain what you need to know about DNA and your genealogy.

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

This program is presented in a partnership with the North Suburban Genealogical Society.