Thursday, December 21, 2017

StoryCorps' Great Questions

With friends and family gathered together at this time year, it's a good time to share memories or start collecting oral histories. StoryCorps has a list of great questions to help you get these conversations started. Here are few favorites:

  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • Are there any funny stories or memories or characters from your life that you want to tell me about?
  • If this was to be our very last conversation, is there anything you’d want to say to me?
  • If you could interview anyone from your life living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?
  • Do you remember any songs that you used to sing? Can you sing them now?
  • How would you describe a perfect day when you were young? 
  • When you were young, what did you think your life would be like when you were older? 
  • Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on your life? Tell me about them. 
  • What lessons has your work life taught you? 
  • Do you have a love of your life? 
  • What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life? 
  • What traditions have been passed down in your family?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Family History Apps

The holidays are great time to share family memories. Here are some apps and website that can quickly and easily preserve family stories.

With the StoryCorps app, you can interview your family members anytime, anywhere. The app walks you through the interview process, helps you develop questions, records the conversations and uploads the audio to the Library of Congress. 

The Memories page on FamilySearch allows you to upload and store documents, photographs, and stories. You can even upload audio to the site. Access FamilySearch Memories on your computer or as an app on your mobile device.  

Have you wanted to write a memoir but didn't know where to start? StoryWorth is an email-based story-telling subscription service that will email you one question or writing prompt a week. After a year, your responses are bound into hardcover book. This is a fun and easy way to record your story for future generations. 

Family history should be more than just dates and places. TreeLines is a collaborative site that helps you add stories and memories into your family tree. Upload your tree or start one from scratch. 

Create interactive timelines with Twile. Build your tree, then add milestones, photos, and memories. Twile makes your family history attractive, accessible, and engaging. 

Don't forget note-taking apps like Evernote can also be used for recording and storing family histories. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Genealogy Memoirs

Most genealogy narratives outline a family's history and keep the researcher largely out of the story but the following books are memoirs about the genealogist and the research process itself. The writers discuss not only their family histories but share their reasons for starting their search, their stumbling blocks along the way, and the insights they've gained while doing their genealogy.

A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.” Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history. Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, found himself singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection. It’s All Relative is a fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty traces the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine. From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors’ survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia. Along the way, he reveals the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

My European Family: The First 54,000 Years by Karin Bojs
After the death of her mother, Karin Bojs decided to use DNA research to learn more about herself and her family. She went deep in search of her genealogy, having her DNA sequenced and tested, and effectively becoming an experimental subject. The narrative travels the length and breadth of Europe, from the Neanderthals of central Germany to the Cro-Magnon in France. This fresh, first-person exploration of genes and genetics goes well beyond personal genealogy and reveals much about the shared history of European peoples. This is a good introduction to how DNA research tracks the movement of people across history.

Journeys Home: Inspiring Stories, Plus Tips and Strategies to Find Your Family History
This compelling narrative addresses ancestry tourism and travel. Actor and award-winning travel writer Andrew McCarthy's featured story recounts his quest to uncover his family's Irish history, while twenty-five other prominent writers tell their own heartfelt stories of connection. Spanning the globe, these stories offer personal takes on journeying home, whether the authors are actively seeking long-lost relatives, meeting up with seldom-seen family members, or perhaps just visiting the old country to get a feel for their roots. Stunning images, along with family heirlooms, old photos, recipes, and more, round out this unique take on genealogical research.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2020 Mayflower

American Ancestors just unveiled their new 2020 Mayflower website to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the 1620 Mayflower voyage.

The website includes biographies of Mayflower passengers, information on Mayflower descendants, and resources for proving your lineage. More features and material will be added to the site periodically.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FamilySearch Affiliate

Glenview Public Library is a FamilySearch Affiliate Library. As an Affiliate, patrons can digitally access restricted content on FamilySearch while in the library.

If you're trying to view an image or access a digital microfilm collection but see a message that says you must "Access the site a FamilySearch Affiliate Library," those images can viewed at the Glenview Library.

You can view digital content on all library computers or via our wifi connection.

Access to FamilySearch's increasing digital collections should greatly expand your genealogy research options! 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Spratts from Maine by Gertrude Lundberg

Local genealogist, Gertrude Lundberg notably published several collections of cemetery records but she also wrote family histories. In Spratts from Maine written in 1968, Lundberg chronicles the Spratt family.

Mercy Ward Spratt, 1803-1879
The history begins with the story of George Spratt from Wexford County, Ireland who emigrated to America around 1760 and follows various family lines until 1968. Photographs and transcriptions of original documents complement the family trees.

In addition to basic familial facts, Lundberg includes relevant social history and interesting anecdotes about the family. She adds traditions and family lore to the story: George Spratt supposedly survived a shipwreck on his way to America. There is also an early history of Maine and an account of the towns of China and Palermo where the Spratt family settled. Lundberg includes maps and diagrams of the family's properties and the surrounding areas.

This is a very nice example of how to write and research a succinct, well-documented but still interesting family history.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Learn about the library's newest database,, this Friday at 2 PM. Discover new search techniques and find your ancestors in historical and current newspapers.

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Genealogy & Family History Day at Harold Washington

Celebrate Family History Month at the Harold Washington Library Center. They will be hosting a series of genealogy classes and events all day on October 21.

Drop by the Genealogy & Family History Expo to meet and talk with representatives from genealogical and heritage societies from across the region. North Suburban Genealogical Society will be there!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dig Deeper with Ancestry

Want to learn more about Join us this Tuesday at 10 AM as we explore Ancestry’s special collections and offer techniques for advanced searching.

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Create a Free Online Family Tree

If you're looking to put your family tree online for Family History Month, you have a few free options.

You can create a Ancestry Family Tree without a paid subscription to Create a free account here and then start adding names to your tree! You will not be able to attach documents to your tree like you would a paid account but you can organize all of those names, branches, and dates. You can even add photographs to your tree.

Ancestry Member Trees are searchable in Ancestry's database or you can adjust the privacy settings so the tree is only visible to you.

MyHeritage allows you to create a free family website and family trees. You can add documentation, photographs, calendars and family events. There are multiple options for adding all kinds of biographical data to your entries. You can also invite other family members to view and share information on the site or in the tree. There is also free family tree software that you can download to your computer if you're not interested in working through a web browser.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Meyers Orts: Gazetteer of the German Empire

The gazetteer Meyers Geographical and Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire (Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs) is the best place to locate place names when doing German research.

Compiled in 1912, this gazetteer includes all areas that belonged to the German Empire prior to World War I. You can find more than 210,000 place names in Meyers Orts.

Meyers Orts describes each town and the civil and religious jurisdictions it belongs to. This information should help you decide where to locate records for your ancestors. Each entry the gazetteer may include the following:
  • Name of place 
  • Place type 
  • Name of state
  • Government district 
  • Population 
  • Post Office and other Communications information 
  • Railroad information 
  • Courts 
  • Consulate 
  • Embassy 
  • Churches 
  • Schools 
  • Institutes 
  • Military 
  • Financial 
  • Business Institutions 
  • Trades and Industries 
  • Shipping Traffic 
  • Local government services 
  • Dependent Places

The Glenview Library has a physical copy of Meyers Orts in the Genealogy & Local History Room. You can also search the gazetteer online.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

America Goes to War: WWI Draft Registration Cards

Join us this Sunday at 2 PM for a discussion of the Selective Service Act of 1917 at the Glenview History Center.

Twenty-four million men registered for the draft. Discover their stories and learn how you can find your WWI ancestors!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

European Genealogy

Are you wondering how to get started researching in Europe? Join us Tuesday at 2 PM for our class on European Genealogy. We'll cover the basic process for researching ancestors in Europe and how to find European sources.

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Jackman Bear's 100th Birthday!

This Sunday, we're celebrating the Jackman Bear's 100th birthday. Entertainment and refreshments will be held in Jackman Park from 1:30-2:30.

Most of Glenview's residents attended the Bear Fountain's dedication on September 15, 1917. Edward Jackman originally commissioned the fountain to service the needs of horses, humans, and small animals.

You can learn more about Jackman Bear here and visit the library on Tuesday night to hear Glenview historian Beverly Dawson discuss what life was like in Glenview in 1917.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

So You've Found Your German Town of Origin, Now What?

Join us this Saturday at 1 PM for a program on German research.

Finding your ancestor's town of origin can be exciting. Once this piece of information is found, you might be left wondering how to get records from the other side of the ocean. Teresa Steinkamp McMillin focuses on how to get records for German towns.

Highlights include:
  • Verifying the location of the town 
  • Strategies for identifying misspelled town names 
  • Finding historical jurisdictions for that town 
  • Finding records for that town 
  • Useful aids for reading those records 
  • Tips for hiring a professional genealogist in Germany

Register for the program online or call the Reference Desk at 847-729-7500. Presented in partnership with the North Suburban Genealogical Society.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

FamilySearch Microfilm

FamilySearch is extending their microfilm ordering deadline to September 7. Only one week left!

Find the latest information at the discontinuation of FamilySearch's microfilm distribution services here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Scots and Irish in Canada

We've got some of the best resources for searching for early Scottish and Irish immigrants in Canada: Some Early Scots in Maritime Canada and Erin's Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada both compiled by Terrence M. Punch.

Punch searched newspaper announcements and passenger lists as well as cemetery, probate, and land records to find references to Scottish and Irish immigrants in Canada. The volumes focus on early populations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island.

Many of these record are only available in Canadian archives and difficult to find so these books provide a valuable resource for early Scottish and Irish research in North America.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

WWI at the Glenview History Center

Visit the Glenview History Center on August 13th and hear living historian Christopher Allen Irelan discuss Marine Corps and their equipment in the Great War.

This event will be at the Hibbard Library at 2 PM.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

FamilySearch Microfilm

As a FamilySearch Affiliate Library, patrons have the option to have microfilm shipped from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to the Glenview Public Library. However, FamilySearch recently announced that they will be stopping their microfilm distribution service at the end of August. Patrons can continue to request film until August 31. All microfilm that the library receives during this period will be on extended loan.

Some of FamilySearch's microfilm collection is digitized and browsable online. You can still find books and microfilm through the Books and Catalog tabs on FamilySearch. To find all of the digitized collections in one place, click on "Browse all published collections" on the Records search page.

FamilySearch hopes to have all of its microfilm digitized by 2020. You can find more information about the future of FamilySearch's microfilm collection here.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Evernote for Genealogy

Learn how to organize your genealogy research with the Evernote app! On August 1st at 2 PM, we'll be discussing the basics of Evernote.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Immigration Records Class

Learn about immigration records with us on Tuesday, July 18 at 10 AM. Register online or call the Reference Desk at 847-729-7500.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Learn About the Grove's Founders

This Sunday at 2 PM at the Hibbard Library, Elizabeth Kopp will discuss the Kennicotts, the Grove and their contributions to our country. Afterwards, the Glenview History Center will host a tour of their historic farmhouse. Find more information here!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Adding Context

Adding Context: Social History for Genealogists

Ginger Frere will discuss the value of adding social context to family stories, review samples of narratives where context is provided, and look at some published social histories to determine where and how to find materials of interest to genealogists. In partnership with the North Suburban Genealogical Society.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Getting Started with

Are you new to online genealogy research? Join us on Tuesday, June 20 at 10 AM to learn the basics of 

Register online or call the Reference Desk at 846-729-7500.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Summertime at the Hibbard Library

Celebrate Summertime at the Hibbard Library. This summer the Glenview History Center will be holding programs at the Hibbard Library each month.

This June visit the History Center and learn about the history of Wagner Farm and the Wagner Family! Christine Shiel, volunteer coordinator of Wagner Farm, will tell us about Tom Wagner and the last remaining and operating farm in Glenview. Afterwards you are welcome to tour the Glenview History Center farmhouse.

Discover the history of Wagner Farm on Sunday, June 25th at 2 PM. Suggested donation of $5.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Now you can search for your ancestors with Use your library card to access this database of nearly 5,000 historic newspapers. has a collection of 149 papers for Illinois spanning the 1830s to the twenty-first century. You will find the historic Daily Herald whose coverage includes the north and northwest suburbs (including Glenview) from 1901-2006.

Aside from the United States collection, you can also research papers from Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, and Northern Ireland.

To learn more, watch the excellent tutorials found in the Help Center.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

German Immigrants from Bremen

About forty percent of 19th century immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe left through the city of Bremen. German ports typically kept records of emigrants leaving for America and elsewhere; unfortunately, the emigration lists from Bremen were destroyed during World War II. German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York compiled by Gary J. Zimmerman attempts to reconstruct these lists.

Based on passenger lists of arrivals at New York, German Immigrants includes information on about 35,000 immigrants spanning the dates between 1847 and 1871. This is still only about twenty-five percent of the total number of emigrants from Bremen arriving during this period.

This series spans four volumes and includes details such as age, place of origin, date of arrival, and the name of the ship, as well as citations to the original source material.

German Immigrants is a good starting point for finding your German immigrant ancestors.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Historical Newspapers

Newspapers are fascinating historical records that can offer a lot of context and interest to your family history. This Friday, learn how to use newspapers in your genealogy research, where to find them online, and discover why they are an important resource.

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Make Faire

This Saturday the Glenview Public Library is hosting a Maker Faire.

As part of the Maker Faire, we'll help you digitize your family photos and you can be a part of Glenview history. Bring in your personal photographs and we’ll provide you with a digital copy and add a copy to our digital local history archive.

We’re looking for photographs of Glenview families, organizations, events, and places. We will digitize up to 10 photographs per person. Bring a flash drive or DVD to store your digital copies.

Drop by between 11 AM and 3 PM.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Glenview History Center

The Farmhouse at the Glenview History Center opens today!

Built in 1864 by Sarah Hutchings, the farmhouse was home to the Hutchings, Schur and Homan families. It is one of the oldest houses in Glenview. The GHC maintains the house and exhibits antique furniture, textiles, and objects which reflect life in Glenview between the Civil War and World War II.

You can visit the Farmhouse on weekends throughout the summer.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Polish Genealogical Society of America Workshops

The Polish Genealogical Society of America is hosting a workshop on Saturday, May 20 at the NIU Naperville Meeting and Conference Center.

Tadeusz Pilat will broadcast live from Warsaw and will discuss notary records and land survey maps. Information found in these resources cannot be found in church parish registers. Jason Kruski will be at the conference covering how to find a village of origin using online records. He will also examine updates from various Polish digital archives. PGSA volunteers will be available to answer genealogical questions and to help with translations.

For more information and to register for the workshops, visit the PGSA website.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Polish Pioneers in Illinois

Every good Chicagoan will tell you that Chicago has the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw. It's no secret that the area has welcomed a large number of Polish immigrants throughout the twentieth century but it's pre-1850 Polish immigration that interests James D. Lodesky.

Polish Pioneers in Illinois, 1818-1850 by Lodesky attempts to account for all of the earliest Polish settlers in Illinois. He believes that about 325 Poles lived throughout the state before 1850.

Lodesky discusses reasons for early Polish immigration and Polish history in Illinois and elsewhere. He examines Polish populations in Chicago and several counties throughout the state and also provides genealogies of some early families.

Indispensable history for Illinoisans with Polish roots!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Online Irish Workshops

The Ulster Historical Foundation presented seven webinars for the Fountaindale Public Library in March. The library has shared the videos and handouts on their blog.

The Ulster Historical Foundation specializes in Irish genealogy research and programming. The webinars presented at Fountaindale covered such topics as:
  • Researching in cemeteries, newspapers, and archives
  • Using school records, wills, and the Registry of Deeds
  • Famine era emigration

Many thanks to the Fountaindale Public Library for sharing these informative lectures!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Comparing the 'Big 4'

Ancestry, FamilySearch, findmypast, and MyHeritage are currently the four biggest genealogy databases available. Which one(s) should you be using? Are they worth purchasing a subscription?

At this year's RootTech, Sunny Morton compared the "Big 4" to help users understand which databases best fit their research needs. You can watch her discussion here.

Ms. Morton says that when choosing a database, you need to consider what you need right now. Remember that no one website will have what you need all of the time.

The biggest question you probably have is: Which site holds the historical records I want? Here is a brief overview of the databases:
  • 80 countries -- particularly: USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Mexico, and the UK
  • 96 countries -- strong global outreach with a unique collection of Central & South American, African, and Asian records
  • 7 countries -- focus is on UK and Irish records as well as US, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Claims to cover 'all' countries -- primarily Europe and global Jewish collections

For more information, watch Sunny Morton's informational presentation.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Census Records

Do you have questions about how to use census records in your genealogy research? Attend our class on April 12 to learn census research tips. 

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Day That Lived in Infamy

Regardless of service branch, many records exist to tell your soldier, sailor, or Marine’s story. Jennifer Holik will teach you how to research World War II records for any branch of the military in this informative program.

In this engaging and informative presentation, Jennifer shares:

  • A trip through time, exploring the service history of several men and women. 
  • Explore resources to search prior to obtaining military records.
  • Provide information on obtaining Official Military Personnel Files. 
  • Show and teach you what military records can be used to reconstruct service history. 
  • Tips on weaving military, genealogical, and historical records together. 
  • A brief exploration of the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF).

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

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New England Women

For Women's History Month, read about some exemplary 19th century women from New England.

Sketches of Representative Women of New England edited by Julia Ward Howe and published in 1904 features biographies of prominent New England women.

These women were philanthropists, writers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers. The sketches describe the roles these women played in society and highlight their many achievements. Of interest to the genealogist, the entries also detail family histories including the names of parents, spouses and children. They also contain important dates, addresses, and occasionally photographs.

The women highlighted here feature a variety of accomplishments and come from relatively diverse backgrounds. Fascinating reading for those interested in women's history!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Free Irish Resources

For Saint Patrick's Day, all Irish resource collections are free on American Ancestors until March 22. Their databases include information on Irish immigrants in America, Catholic parish records, and some record collections from Ireland. You can also watch webinars and read articles on Irish genealogy. has made their Irish records free for the weekend as well.

Find even more online Irish resources here.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Genealogy Research Day

Drop in this Saturday to get one-on-one help with your genealogy and to utilize our print and digital resources. Join us in the Technology Lab or the Genealogy & Local History Room any time between 1-4 PM.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Glenview History Center Annual Tea

Join the Glenview History Center on Saturday, March 18, for the Jackie O. Luncheon. Leslie Godard will portray Jacqueline Kennedy and share the story of her life in the White House and the death of John F. Kennedy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

FamilySearch Class

Next Wednesday at 2 PM we'll be learning how to use Discover how to use this free database that rivals Search their impressive catalog of books of microfilm and utilize their online learning resources.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Finding Free African Americans in the South

If you are searching for free African Americans in the colonial South, we have two valuable volumes
in our collection:

Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina from the Colonial Period to about 1820
Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware: From the Colonial Period to 1810 

Both books are by Paul Heinegg. While working on his own genealogy, Heinegg became interested in the history of free black families in the South. Many free African Americans were freed in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. They often formed relationships with white servants or Native Americans and owned land and property. With the spread of plantations in the mid-1700s, legal restrictions on miscegenation and manumissions and increasing racism, caused free people of color to migrate elsewhere or to begin "passing" as white. Some freed African Americans were even forced back into slavery. Heinegg's work is indispensable for understanding and following the lives and genealogies of free people of color in the colonial period.      

Heinegg tells the story of free African Americans through family histories. Heinegg provides detailed information including marriages and births as well as land and court transactions and even physical descriptions when those details are available. He pulls this information from census records, tax lists, wills, deeds, marriage bonds, parish registers, Revolutionary War pensions and "free Negro registers."

This is an important volume for researching African Americans in the colonial era.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Chicago Genealogy Class

Do you have Chicago or Cook County ancestors? On Wednesday, February 22 at 10 AM, discover local resources to help you with your research.

Register online or call the Reference Desk at 847-725-7500.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Chicago 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition

Beautiful Scenes of the White City
Join us this Saturday at 1 PM for The Chicago 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: What Remains & New Links to H.H. Holmes. Local historian and former criminal investigator Ray Johnson discusses the legacy of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, including relics that remain and previously undiscovered links to “The Devil” Dr. H.H. Holmes. This program is presented in partnership with the North Suburban Genealogical Society.
Great Yerkes Telescope, Manufactures Building from
Beautiful Scenes of the White City

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

Our Genealogy & Local History Room contains two books that were published in 1893 and 1894 to commemorate the Exposition.

The Dream City
A beautiful over-sized book of photographs and descriptions of the architecture and attendees of the fair. The editors discuss the creation of the exposition and the people involved in turning the fair into reality.

Beautiful Scenes of the White City
The photographs here are largely focused on individual exhibits and attractions. Lovely interior images evoke an idea of what it would have been like to attend the fair.

Also, look for Chicago: The Wonder City published in 1893 to promote the city and the fair. This book focuses more on the city of Chicago itself.
"The Columbian Illuminations" from The Dream City

Monday, January 30, 2017


The National Museum of African American History and Culture recently partnered with FamilySearch, the National Archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the California African American Museum to create a database of records of emancipated African Americans. searches FamilySearch's collection of Freedmen's Bureau records. Established in 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau provided aid to recently emancipated slaves and poor whites in the South. The Freedmen's Bureau archives include marriage, census, land, court, school, and medical information from between 1865 and 1872. Because slaves were rarely recorded in pre-Civil War records, the Freedmen's Bureau is an excellent starting point for tracing enslaved ancestors.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Genealogy Research Day

Need help with a tough genealogy problem? Just getting started with your research? Drop in this Saturday to get one-on-one help with your genealogy and to utilize our print and digital resources. Join us in the Technology Lab or the Genealogy & Local History Room any time between 1-4 PM.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Books to break down your brick walls

Do you want to improve your genealogy research skills this year? Here are a few new(ish) books to help you master new techniques in the new year.

Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques by George G. Morgan
This book is all about breaking down your brick walls. The authors describe how to reexamine the evidence you have, how to use little-known resources, and how to develop research strategies to address your unique specific problems.

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger
This is the most comprehensive guide on DNA and genealogy. Understand the basics of DNA testing and how to interpret and incorporate your DNA results into your research.

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy by Kerry Scott
Learn how to organize your research (and your life!) with this helpful note-taking app. Store, organize, and share your documents, notes, photos, and audio files with Evernote.

Organize Your Genealogy by Drew Smith
One of my favorites! This excellent guide will help you organize not just your physical and digital files but also your research process, correspondence, research trips, and your educational goals.
The Troubleshooter's Guide To Do-It-Yourself Genealogy by W. Daniel Quillen
Go beyond the basics of genealogy research. Quillen provides in-depth explanations of records and advanced research techniques.

Unofficial Guide to by Nancy Hendrickson
Explore all of Ancestry's vast collections and master the best search techniques for finding your ancestors. Also discusses Ancestry Family Trees and AncestryDNA.

Unofficial Guide to by Dana McCullough
Discover the best research strategies for using FamilySearch. Learn about their offline resources, family trees, and more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Beginning Genealogy

New to genealogy? Attend our Beginning Genealogy class on January 17 at 2 PM. Learn the basic steps to get started with your research.

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Name Changes at Ellis Island

One of the most common stories in American family lore is that officials at Ellis Island changed an
immigrant ancestor's name. It's a persistent myth and one that isn't true.

For the 125th anniversary of the opening of Ellis Island, examines the history of immigration in the US and explains the truth about immigration officials and names. Here are a few key points from the article:
Ellis Island inspectors were not responsible for recording immigrants’ names. Instead, any error likely happened overseas.
At the shipping line’s station in Europe, a clerk wrote the passenger’s name in the ship’s manifest, sometimes without asking for identification verifying the spelling.
The ship’s manifest was presented to Ellis Island inspectors after the boat docked. From there, the inspector would cross-reference the name on the manifest with the immigrant passenger, and also ask 30 questions to screen out rabble-rousers, loafers, or the physically and mentally infirm, but also to glean information on who they would be living with and where in America, says Urban. The inspectors also would see if the answers matched those recorded by the shipping clerk before departure.
“If anything, Ellis Island officials were known to correct mistakes in passenger lists,” says Philip Sutton, a librarian in the Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, at the New York Public Library, in a blog post delving into the name change mythology.
More commonly, immigrants themselves would change their names, either to sound more American, or to melt into the immigrant community, where they were going to live, says Sutton. If name changes happened with any frequency on Ellis Island, it was not noted in any contemporaneous newspaper accounts or in recollections from inspectors, Sutton says. 
It is also unlikely a foreign name would flummox an Ellis Island inspector. From 1892 to 1924, “one-third of all immigrant inspectors were themselves foreign-born, and all immigrant inspectors spoke an average of three languages,” says the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 
Read the entire article to learn more about immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.