Monday, February 27, 2006

Speaker Spotlight: Elizabeth Shown Mills

A family tale about an Indian princess and a horse trader sparked Elizabeth Shown Mills’s interest in ancestry as a child. Decades of exhaustive research failed to prove the story. Newly available genetic tests have decidedly disproved it. On Wednesday, Elizabeth will use this and other real, ethnic traditions---some of them fact and some of them fancy---to explore the role that oral history plays in ancestral research and the standards that good genealogists apply.

Elizabeth well knows the subject. Her last book, the historical novel Isle of Canes www.isleofcanes is based on a skillful weaving of Creole tradition and documentary research from Canada to Cuba to Paris and Seville. After reading it, Historical Novels Review proclaims, “You’ll never look at American history the same way again.” Join the audience at 2:30 on Wednesday for Oral History, Documentary Evidence, and Core Truths, to learn ways to find the “core truths” in your own family stories.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Speaker Spotlight: Michael John Neill

Michael John Neill grew up on a farm in rural Illinois in the county where many of his ancestral families have lived for five generations. His maternal ancestors all hail from Ostfriesland, an ethnic region in modern-day Germany. His paternal lines are mainly from Germany and the British Isles--his children's lines are from just about every country in Western Europe. One of his favorite activites in genealogy is to determine the location of his ancestor's farm.
Keep Reading About Michael J. Neill


He has researched his own families for over twenty years and is currently a math instructor at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael has lectured at genealogy workshops across the country over the past ten years and is currently on the board of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

In his spare time, he works on locating rich and famous people in United States federal census records, 1930 and before. One can learn a great deal about history by seeing people before they were well-known.

Michael will present two lectures in Chicago, both on Thursday. Bridging Buckeye Borders: Ohio Research, will provide an overview of Ohio's state and local records. He will teach how to locate and access those records. Michael's second lecture, Outside of Cook: Illinois Courthouses, will help the audience to learn what treasures are available in Illinois courthouses, and research strategies for those courthouses.

He also maintains a website at http://www.rootdig.com

Michael is a popular speaker and you won't want to miss him at NGS!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CGC Member Spotlight: Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago (AAGHSC)

The AAGHSC was organized in 1979 to forward and guide African American researchers in their search for family roots. There are currently 160 members, who research in every state, but primarily in the South. The period of slavery presents special challenges which many of our members have become experts in overcoming.
Read About the AAGHSC


The Society meets monthly on the second Sunday at 1:15 pm at the Atlas Senior Center, 1769 E. 79th Street. Each Meeting hosts speakers that will assist members learn about genealogy research.

Membership includes quarterly newsletter, monthly programs, state study groups, reduced bees at conference, research trips, and much more.

The Study Groups are organized by members to support each other in researching particular states. Currently there are Study Groups for Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.

The AAGHSC annual family history conference will be October 7, 2006. All are welcome!

Contact information:
312-458-0837
http://hometown.aol.com/aaghsc/index.html

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Speaker Spotlight: Tim Pinnick

Few people are more thrilled than Tim Pinnick about the upcoming NGS Conference in the States, but the event is not without its drawbacks. “This is my first time presenting at NGS, which is very cool, but at the end of my second presentation at 5:00 on Saturday, I immediately jump into my car and head for Birmingham, Alabama where I need to check in on Sunday afternoon for IGHR!” [Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research.]
Read More About Tim Pinnick


But Tim is usually on the run, often in the pursuit of African American coal miners both online and off, which is what led him to the Slavery Era Insurance Registry, a portion of which can be accessed online through the California Department of Insurance: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0100-consumers/0300-public-programs/0200-slavery-era-insur/slaveholder-names.cfm. After over half a dozen trips to California to conduct extensive research into all the documents collected from insurance companies by the department, he has put together a very popular presentation on his discoveries, entitled Slave Ancestry Research: The Slavery Era Insurance Registry and Its Supporting Documents, which he will give at 11:00 on Saturday.

Tim’s fascination with coal miners is personal. A native of Lockport in the far southwestern suburbs of Chicago, he was shocked to find that three of his four great-grandfathers mined coal about 20 miles south of there in Braidwood, Illinois. “So as a result, I have been conducting research in coal mining records for about the past 15 years” he claims, “and you can amass quite a bit of knowledge in that period of time.”

It is from this accumulation of wisdom and material that he has prepared his second NGS lecture, Coal Dust in Your Veins: Tips, Strategies, and Resources to Bring Your Coal Mining Ancestors to the Surface. “I am very excited about this presentation because of its impact on present and future researchers,” he says. “Coal mining was huge in Illinois, and thousands upon thousands of our ancestors, of practically every race and creed worked these mines. So, this presentation, once given, will be out there when others uncover, like I did, that coal miner in their past.”

In the wake of the recent coal mining accidents and the associated media attention, we will look forward to Tim’s last lecture so we can perhaps gain a better understanding of the present through the past.

To learn more about his research on African American coal miners, check him out in this month’s issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Nature Lovers Guide to the Chicago Area

The Chicago area has many beautiful locations for the nature lover to visit. Here are a few of the best:
Keep Reading the Nature Lover's Guide


1. The Lake. Chicago sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes. Take a relaxing walk along the beach, a boat cruise, or just drive up Lake Shore Drive and enjoy the view. The city includes 33 public beaches and 9 harbors. http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/

2. Millennium Park combines nature, and spectacular art and architecture. The 24.5 acre park in downtown Chicago has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. http://www.millenniumpark.org/

3. The Chicago Botanical Garden is a wonderful place to visit. It contains 385 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, including 100 acres of woods and 15 acres of prairie. The 26 gardens include 3 native habitat areas, an English Walled Garden, a Japanese Garden and a Rose Garden. http://www.chicagobotanic.org/

4. The Morton Arboretum is a beautiful spot that will please every gardener and nature lover. Its 1700 acres are more than an arboretum. In addition to 3400 kinds of trees and plants from around the world, it includes a wetland and a collection of native plants. You can view several types of gardens, such as display, herb and perennial. There are miles of hiking trails, paved roads for auto access and an open air tram. A coffee shop is on site and there are many seasonal events. Check for the schedule if you plan to visit. http://www.mortonarb.org/

5. Brookfield Zoo. This spacious suburban zoo contains over 200 acres of exhibits and greenery. Favorites include the Seven Seas Dolphin Presentation, the Hamill Family Play Zoo and the Living Coast. http://www.brookfieldzoo.org/

6. The Lincoln Park Zoo, founded in 1868, is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, but also one of the most modern. It is open 365 days a year and admission is free. The state-of-the-art Regenstein Center for African Apes features three spacious habitats for chimpanzees and gorillas. The Robert R. McCormick Bear Habitat contains seven outdoor habitats for spectacled bears, sun bears and polar bears. A zoo favorite for more than 110 years, polar bears continue to enjoy their 266,000-gallon pool—one of the largest polar bear zoo exhibits in the world. The Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo offers children the chance to learn about animals’ lives and homes through play and discovery. http://www.lpzoo.com/info/intro.html

7. County Forest Preserves. The Hyatt Regency O’Hare is located in Cook County, near the borders of DuPage and Lake Counties. The 3 counties have a number of natural areas, managed by their respective forest preserve districts. See the following websites for details.
Forest Preserve District of Cook County: http://www.fpdcc.com/
Forest Preserve District of DuPage County: http://www.dupageforest.com/
Lake County Forest Preserve District: http://www.lcfpd.org/

8. Illinois State Parks. The following state parks in northern Illinois are worth a visit.

Starved Rock State Park. This park has 13 miles of hiking trails and 18 canyons. The park is located along the south side of the Illinois River. Visitors will appreciate the beauty of Starved Rock by hiking the trails and enjoying the park's many activities, which include boating, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and picnicking. http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/i&m/east/starve/park.htm

Illinois Beach State Park. The 4,160-acre park, consisting of two separate areas, offers ample opportunities for swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping and just appreciating nature. Stretching for over 6 miles along the sandy shore of Lake Michigan, Illinois Beach State Park encompasses the only remaining beach ridge shoreline left in the state. http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R2/ILBEACH.HTM

Volo Bog. If you're looking for a unique outdoor setting, visit the Volo Bog State Natural Area. Just 45 miles northwest of Chicago in Lake County, this natural area contains Volo Bog, the only quaking bog in Illinois with an open water center. There are 2 marked trails. A half-mile interpretive loop leads visitors through each stage of bog succession. It is constructed of wooden dock sections, boardwalks and a woodchip path. The Tamarack View Trail is a 2.75-mile trail through woods, wetlands, field and prairie. http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R2/VOLOBOG.HTM

So, come and enjoy the NGS conference and, if you have time, a little bit of nature too.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Speaker Spotlight: Paul S. Valasek, D.D.S.

Chicago native Paul Valasek has been interested in his roots as far back as he can remember. As a child he played with his grandfather’s WWI Polish military medals from his service in Haller’s Army. As an adult, Paul learned that there was not a complete listing of members of Haller’s Army, and decided to compile one. It is befitting that same curious boy is now the man who found a way to honor all those who served with his grandfather.
Read More About Paul Valasek


Founder of the Czech and Slovak American Genealogical Society of Illinois (CSAGSI), Paul has been researching his family over 30 years, and also researches his wife’s family. He has traced his roots back to the early 1600's in both Poland and the Czech Republic, and been to Europe 13 times for research.

Paul has lectured throughout the U.S. and Canada. The three-time graduate of Loyola is not only a popular genealogist and speaker, but a D.D.S. as well. Past President of the Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA), Paul is well-qualified to lecture on Polish research.

Paul will present Polish-American Research: Using Resources in the U.S. His knowledge of resources both in the U.S. and Poland will definitely help anyone working on Polish research.

A busy and giving member of the genealogical community, Paul willingly shares his knowledge. He is the co-founder of Polish research website www.PolishRoots.org, and has served on the board of the Polish Museum of America. His ongoing work to create a database and publish a history of the Polish Army in France 1917-1920 [aka Haller's Army, aka the Blue Army], will help many genealogists and historians for years to come.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Area Resource: Interactive Genealogy Research Locations Map!

The Newberry Library has created an interactive map of popular genealogy research destinations in the Chicago area. If you plan to do genealogical research in the Chicago area when you come to the conference, this map will give you a great frame of reference, and also probably give you ideas for a few extra research stops too!

You can view the map at http://www.newberry.org/genealogy/maps/research.html. The Newberry has announced the map on their weblog http://www.newberry.org/genealogy/news/default.asp?id=186&action=single, which is worth browsing on a regular basis. Thanks to Jack Simpson of the Newberry Library for sharing the map with us.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Chicago Chow: Vegetarian Fare

Eric C. M. Basir of Photo Grafix submitted this piece that he wrote on local vegetarian fare.

Almost every genealogy conferences has vegetarian attendees. I'm one of them. Like most other vegetarians, I find myself compromising by eating at places such as Taco Bell, or a Mexican or Italian restaurant (hoping that they didn't cook my beans or pasta in bacon grease). Sometimes a buffet style establishment is okay. However, don't compromise while you're in Chicago.
Read About Vegetarian Fare


Chicago has some of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country. There are also countless South Asian or Indian vegetarian restaurants as well. While you're in town consider getting a meat-free meal at some of my personal favorites. Use the links for driving/public transit directions from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare (Rosemont Convention Center) for each location. Double-check them for yourself the day you're ready to go.
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Chicago Diner (Northern end of Chicago, closer to downtown)
http://www.veggiediner.com/
3411 N. Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 935-6696

Although I haven't been to this one for over a decade, their reputation for good meatless cuisine is untouchable. It can get a little crowded in there. Check out the website and you'll see what I mean!

Public Transit: Less than an hour from the conference site.
Car: 30-40 minutes (or slightly longer, depending on rush hour).
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Soul Vegetarian East (South side of Chicago, near I-94 south)
203 E. 75th St.
Chicago, IL 60619
773-224-0104

This one is my favorite. Do you want "soul" food that doesn't clog your arteries and is still 100% vegan? This is it. Founded by a community of African-Americans who re-claimed their lost Hebrew ancestry and formed a community in Israel, not only will you enjoy the wide variety of vegan dishes, but your eye will be treated to beautiful artwork, photos, and the clothing worn by the staff (many are fluent in Hebrew too)!

My favorites are the vegan gyro sandwich and the freshly-made juices. My favorite, and most lethal, is the one made with everything, including garlic! They also make and sell awesome dairy-free ice cream. Visit the deli next door to buy food to take back with you to the hotel.

Public transit: 1.5 hours
By car: 30 minutes (or slightly longer during rush hour)
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Blind Faith Café (Evanston, a suburb on the north end of Chicago)
525 Dempster Street
Evanston IL 60201
847-328-6875
http://www.blindfaithcafe.com/

I've been eating out at this place since the early 1990's. Nice atmosphere, lot's of food, excellent baked goods, and plenty of vegan desserts! I personally like the blueberry pancakes. However, everything I've eaten there has been excellent. Parking isn't always easy. You may need to park a block or two away.

Public transit: 1.5 hours
By car: 30 minutes (or slightly longer during rush hour)
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Slice of Life (In Skokie, almost a straight shot by car from the event hotel)
4120 West Dempster Street
Skokie, IL 60076
847-674-2021

Public transit: 1 hour
By car: 30 minutes

Do you need certified Kosher and/or vegetarian? Then this is the place. Their slogan is "a unique natural vegetarian café." Indeed it is! Although they offer fish, everything else is purely vegetarian. My wife and I had our wedding day dinner at this restaurant, and we recently had our 10th anniversary dinner there as well.

My favorites are their salads and chili. Appetizers, pastas and Mexican-style dishes abound. Parking is abundant. They are closed during the Saturday shabbat (sabbath), but they are open from after dark until 12:30 Saturday night!

More restaurants can be found here http://www.chicagoreader.com/

See http://www.yourcta.com for the public transportation trip planner.
See http://www.randmcnally.com for driving directions.

Thanks Eric!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Practical Guide: Cook County Circuit Court Archives

The Circuit Court Archives has a wealth of sources for genealogists. If your ancestor divorced, died, or became a citizen in Cook County, Illinois, you will want to look for them in the records of the Circuit Court Archives. Among the treasures that can be found are testimony regarding heirs in probate cases, details of divorce proceedings and legal name changes. (Hint: Search indexes under “In re.”) Clues can often be found that lead to death records, cemetery records and ship passenger lists.
Read More About the Cook County Circuit Court Archives


The Archives’ holdings date back to the Chicago Fire of 1871. Visitors to the Archives may search indexes to a variety of cases, including probate, divorce, naturalization, and other civil and criminal cases. One such index is the National Archives Soundex Naturalization Index 1840-1950, which covers Northern Illinois and parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana. The naturalization records from several Cook County courts are maintained at the Archives office. Most other county court records are kept in off-site storage due to the volume of files in such a heavily populated jurisdiction. These records can be requested from storage and are delivered to the Archives for viewing within 2-10 working days. Once court files are delivered, they can be held for viewing for up to one month. It is recommended that you call ahead to be sure the requested files have arrived before traveling to the Archives.

For a fee, requests can be made by mail or phone for a search of the indexes and copies of case files. However, if possible, it is best (and more fun) to search the indexes in person, and view the case files yourself. This saves you the cost of the search fee and allows you to search alternate spellings for your surnames of interest. Also, looking at a case file yourself means that you can hold the 100 year old documents in your hands and decide which ones you’d like to copy. Photocopying is on a self-service basis. Copies can be paid for by cash or check.

The Archives is located in downtown Chicago at the Richard J. Daley Center, Room 1113. Look for the Picasso sculpture in front of the building. Public transportation and parking are both located nearby. The office is open Monday through Friday, excluding court holidays, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The staff is helpful and very knowledgeable about their holdings. For questions, contact them at 312-603-6601.

The Archives website includes a brief description of the files they possess, printable forms, contact information and current fees. There are also examples of typical court documents taken from some of Chicago’s famous cases. The website is found at:
http://198.173.15.34/?section=RecArchivePage&RecArchivePage=6000

Chicago Historical Society Update

The Chicago Historical Society announced that they have changed their name to The Chicago History Museum. They feel that this will be a more inviting name to the general public. In other news, renovations are still underway and are not expected to be completed until the fall.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Special Event: BCG Education Fund Workshop

Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, CGL, reminds us of this very special event. Putting Skills to Work: Planning and Reporting Research is the title of the BCG Education Fund Workshop. Attendance is limited and early registration is highly recommended. Kay writes:
Learn More About the Workshop


Plan to attend the first-ever all-day Board for Certification of Genealogists® Education Fund Workshop as part of your conference experience. Scheduled as a special event for Tuesday, 6 June, the workshop will offer hands-on practice in two important genealogical skills: planning and reporting research. It is patterned after the highly successful BCG Education Fund sessions on abstracting held at previous conferences.

All attendees will participate in sessions about both topics. Each session will include lecture time to review the pertinent standards, hands-on practice time, a review of the practice sessions, and a final wrap-up. Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, and Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, CGL, will lead the portion on planning research. Marty Hiatt, CG, and Barbara Mathews, CG, will conduct the reporting session and will address both compilations and research reports for yourself or others.

An additional registration fee of $90 is required to attend (see registration form). The fee includes lunch and a syllabus. You do NOT have to register for the conference to attend this event. Be sure to register early as attendance is limited to 60.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Practical Guide: Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD), Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)

Are you researching an ancestor from Cook County, Illinois? While you’re in town for the NGS Conference, you might consider checking out the holdings of the Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) IRAD. IRAD is short for “Illinois Regional Archives Depository.” It is the system used by Illinois to archive their local governmental holdings. There are seven regional archives in Illinois, each located on a state university campus. They hold items such as vital records, city council meeting minutes, probate records, wills, naturalization records, circuit court records and much, much more. To view the holdings of an IRAD in your area of interest, see the following website: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/GenealogyMWeb/iradsrch.html.
Read More About IRAD


Archived records for the County of Cook are housed at NEIU located on the first floor of the Ronald Williams Library. This depository is reopening on 14 February 2006 after suffering damage from a fire. Fortunately, all of the records survived. Unique to NEIU are over 35,000 records from the City of Chicago which predate the Chicago Fire that took place in 1871. Included are Sanborn maps, atlases, plats, city council proceedings covering 1833-1942; election registers from 1888, 1890 and 1892; to name a few.

The Ronald Williams Library is open Monday – Friday, except state holidays, from 9am – 4pm. This facility is staffed by graduate students and interns who have varying class schedules. For this reason, be sure to call 773-442-4506 to verify their hours. To access this facility from Rosemont, take I-90 East to the Austin Exit. Go East on Foster Ave. to Pulaski Ave. Turn left and follow Pulaski to Bryn Mawr and turn right. Follow Bryn Mawr to the parking entrance. Be sure to obtain a guest parking permit (for a fee) from the Public Safety Office next to the parking lot. Those without a permit will be ticketed.

Happy hunting!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

CGC Member Spotlight: Computer-Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois

The Computer-Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI) was quick to accept the invitation from the developing Chicagoland Genealogical Consortium to support this national convention in our own back yard. We strongly encourage educational opportunities and, as such, a National Genealogical Society conference so close to home is an experience that cannot be missed.
Learn More About CAGGNI


CAGGNI occupies a unique niche — helping members learn how to apply new technologies to genealogy. These technologies might include computers, genealogy software, digital cameras, scanners, the Internet, digital video editing, GPS, DNA, and even non-genealogical software packages like word processors and email. These are all things that any genealogist might find useful regardless of regional or ethnic interests. The approach is three pronged: meetings, newsletters, and web site. Each part is worth the membership on its own, but sum of the whole is unbeatable. Another hallmark of CAGGNI is the drive to create new and original content at our meetings, in our newsletter, and on our web site. Our strength derives from our membership. While many local society computer-interest groups have intermittent interest, CAGGNI continues to grow.

CAGGNI meets the third Saturday of the first eleven months of the year and holds a planning meeting on the first Saturday of December. Meetings begin at 10:30 a.m. and refreshments are served. After meetings, many members gather locally for lunch and for an informal exchange of ideas and camaraderie. The Master Genealogist (TMG) Special Interest Group meets the second Saturday monthly at the same time and location as the main group.

Programs rely upon the talent and depth of knowledge of its active membership, with occasional guest speakers. CAGGNI usually features live demonstrations using laptops, computer projectors and internet connections. The programs tend to be unique to CAGGNI for this reason, though many of our members have been well received when they brought their presentations to other local societies.

We strive to make everyone feel welcome, beginner to advanced, whatever your software or computer system of choice. CAGGNI is "A Technology Group for Amateur Genealogists". Meetings are purposefully casual to encourage a friendly environment and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

CAGGNI is grateful for the use of the facilities of the Schaumburg Township District Library as its meeting location.* This premiere library, known as THE business resource library in the area, also provides for patrons' hobbies and interests. The Genealogy Coordinating Librarian, Tony Kierna, runs a separate genealogy group for the library and has created a large collection of genealogical periodicals, audio-visual materials, and books.

The monthly CAGGNI Newsletter has articles relevant to the effective use of computers to enhance research efforts. Articles highlight techniques, methods and resources which further research. Many how-to articles are accompanied by "screen shots" to assist the reader in learning new computer skills and tools. A sample newsletter and older issues are available on our web site. More recent newsletters are available online in our “members only” area. The paper version of the newsletter (seven pages) can be found in many local libraries. The electronic version is made available to members only and contains added content.

Recognizing that genealogists do not live by technology alone, we strongly encourage our members to join their local genealogical society to partake of more traditional topics. To that end, we feature a listing of what other groups in our area are doing at their meetings, conferences and workshops. This calendar appears both in our monthly newsletter and on our web site.

CAGGNI's web site, http://www.rootsweb.com/~ilcaggni contains many helpful tools for both local and remote researchers. One project featured is our online database of local library holdings containing contact information, links to card catalogs and genealogy information, collection highlights, and even driving directions. Important items found on genealogy blogs and RSS feeds are featured on the left side of our home page. Members' research focuses are highlighted on the Surname pages; which provide members with a link to the Internet world without exposing personal e-mail accounts to the e-mail harvesting robots employed by spammers.

CAGGNI’s web site is a good starting point for other links as well. All major genealogical software packages with links to their web sites are provided on the home page. Links to other genealogy societies are featured under “Useful Links” on the right-hand sidebar. Under “Research Resources”, in addition to the library and surname databases mentioned above, you will find links to Research Data Forms and an Online Reference Set which includes links to many useful encyclopedic web sites.

Miss a meeting? Visit the Meeting Archives (found at the bottom right) for a review of the presentation. Many reviews are highly detailed and some even include the handout. There are so many helpful resources on the site it may take some time to discover them all!


* A scheduling conflict in February has CAGGNI meeting at the Schaumburg FHC on February 18th. Please see our web site for details and directions.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Speaker Spotlight: Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is the Curator of Local and Family History at the Newberry Library. In his lecture, History of Genealogy at the Newberry Library, he will look at the history of genealogy in the United States by focusing on the Newberry Library. The Newberry, established in 1887, has one of the oldest genealogy collections in the U.S., and it has changed along with the genealogical field over the last 119 years. For those who find this topic dull, Jack promises to cover the following subjects in his talk:
Keep Reading About Jack Simpson


* Transporting a body in a barrel of rum
* The suicide of a frustrated inventor
* The closest thing to Ancestry.com, circa 1915
* John F. Kennedy’s “secret first marriage”

He will also answer questions about using the collections at the Newberry, and Chicago research in general. Jack is the co-author (with Matt Rutherford) of A Bibliography of African-American Family History at the Newberry Library (available for purchase here: http://www.newberry.org/genealogy/Biborderform.html). He also contributed several chapters to Grace Dumelle’s Finding Your Chicago Ancestors. To keep up with events at the Newberry, read the Newberry’s genealogy weblog: http://www.newberry.org/genealogy/news/.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

CGC Member Spotlight: The Scottish Genealogy Group of the Illinois St. Andrew Society

The Scottish Genealogy Group of the Illinois St. Andrew Society is one of the eight societies that have joined together to form the Chicagoland Genealogical Consortium. SGG President Jacqueline Torrance believes that attendance at the conference is a wonderful way to gain research ideas, to mix with genealogists from other locations, and to revitalize enthusiasm. There are very few places you can go to discuss your brick walls and have others around you nodding with understanding.
Read More About the Scottish Genealogy Group


The Scottish Genealogy Group, located at the Scottish Home in North Riverside, Illinois, has as its focus Scottish and Scots-Irish genealogical and historical research. To that end a searchable database of the applications to the Illinois St. Andrew Society between the years 1906 and 1967 are available on the ISAS web site at www.chicago-scots.org. Applicants had to indicate where they were born in Scotland or who their Scottish ancestors were and where the ancestors were born. There is additional information on the web site. In the near future an index of the residents of the Scottish Old Peoples Home will be available as well.

Members are located for the most part in the Chicagoland area although some members reside out-of-state.

The Scottish Genealogy Group has a research and lending library available to its members after each meeting and by appointment. Meetings are held on the second Saturday in January, April, July, and October in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home. The group has four programs a year and publishes a quarterly newsletter.

The members of the Scottish Genealogy Group welcome you to the NGS Conference!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Vendor Spotlight: GenSmarts

What happens when you cross a professional software developer with an avid genealogist? You get R. Aaron Underwood, the creator of GenSmarts! GenSmarts software, a product of Underwood Innovations, is the latest in genealogy add-on tools. And it’s all the rage. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze your genealogy file and produce research suggestions. It directly integrates with most popular genealogy software packages (FTM, PAF, TMG, RootsMagic, Legacy and several others). GenSmarts helps you generate and track to do lists, print worksheets to record your search results, and plan research trips to libraries, court houses, etc. To link you to online research, it also features direct integration with FamilySearch.org and several other popular research web sites.
Learn More About GenSmarts


Aaron first got interested in genealogy when he was in high school, as a way of overcoming boredom when visiting his grandmother. Not only was he able to relieve the monotony, he soon discovered a passion for his family’s history. As time went on his father Joe joined him on the hunt and this hobby became a favorite father-son activity.

After many years of doing commercial software products for the corporate world, Aaron branched off with his own company. Underwood Innovation’s mission is to create highly innovative products for everyday people. Genealogy was a good fit - one of the world's most popular hobbies made even better with modern technology. The first product, GenSmarts, is inspired by the "to do" lists Aaron created for his father's research trips.

Currently, Mr. Underwood lives in the northwest Chicago suburb of Long Grove with his wife, Angie, and their 3 children: Amanda (17); Alex (15); and Andrew (12). They also maintain a second residence in Tucson, which they enjoy visiting as often as possible.

Be sure to drop by Booth 601 and get a glimpse of how GenSmarts can make you a more productive genealogist! Visit the GenSmarts website at www.GenSmarts.com.

Getting There: Indiana Bus Trip

The Indiana Genealogical Society is hosting a bus trip to NGS Chicago 2006. Details can be found on the Indiana Genealogical Society website http://www.indgensoc.org/ or http://www.indgensoc.org/bustrip.html.

The bus will make a number of stops along the way to Chicago. Get your reservations in, and we will see you in Chicago!

Check it out!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Speaker Spotlight: Grace DuMelle

Of her connection to Chicago, Grace DuMelle says “I grew up in the port-of-entry neighborhood of Pilsen, described so well by writer Stuart Dybek. I now live just south of there in Bridgeport, the Brooklyn of Chicago, populated with no-nonsense immigrants new and old.”
Keep Reading About Grace DuMelle


In the introduction to Grace’s book, Finding Your Chicago Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide to Family History in the City and Cook County, she writes that “…most Americans have some kind of link to the City of Big Shoulders.” Your ancestors could have come from New York State, the Deep South, Mexico, or Europe.

Grace will present two lectures at NGS Chicago. Chicago Genealogy 101 talks about basics for researching, such as the street renumbering that took place in 1909. “If you don't know that and you're trying to drive by grandma's house, you could be miles away,” Grace says. “I want to save people from being frustrated when they begin their research.”

Tips & Tricks for Cook County Vital Records gives attendees the benefit of over a decade that DuMelle spent ferreting out facts for clients. For instance, graduation lists published by the Chicago Board of Education give birth dates from c. 1916 to c. 1958. “Don't let the bureaucrats get you down, find out other ways to skin a cat,” Grace advises.

Grace adds “I feel privileged to live in one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. I call Chicago the Capitol of Real: real people doing things that really matter.”

We look forward to having Grace give us real advice that will make a difference in our very real research!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Chicago Chow: Pizzahhh! Chicago Style

So…what’s all the hype about this Chicago-style pizza? Isn’t pizza just pizza? If you’ve had one, you’ve had ‘em all, right? Not in the Windy City! This Midwest town has had a love affair with pizza since the early 1940’s. It started with the deep dish pizza and three decades later was followed by the stuffed variety. Even the thin crust has its own distinctive style in Chicago. So, just sit back, close your eyes and take a trip down Mouth Watering Lane…
Read More About Pizza!


A deep round pan is lined with a thick crust, which runs up the sides, creating a haven for the meats and veggies of your choice. The filling is topped with a generous helping of mozzarella cheese. Pizza sauce (not too sweet, but wonderfully spicy and flavorful) is ladled over the top and baked to perfection. The crust comes out crispy and the cheese on top is soft and gooey. Chicago is the birthplace of this deep dish style concoction which was originated by Uno’s in 1943.

The stuffed pizza is another Chicago favorite and there’s nothing like it. These beauties are more like cheesecakes in terms of shape and size. This creation begins with a thin crust, which lines the bottom and sides of a deep pan. Add the toppings of your choice (Italian sausage is a Chicago staple), followed by mounds of mozzarella. But wait, that’s not all! A second thin crust is now added over the cheese and securely attached to the sides of the bottom crust. Finally, the delicious sauce is ladled over the top and baked. This pie can be 2 inches thick and is no finger food! Giordano’s and Nancy’s both arrived in the City That Works in the early 1970’s, bringing with them this “meal in a pan.”

Are you hungry, yet? Now that you know what it is, where do you get it? There are many Chicago-style Pizza places in the city and suburbs of Chicago. It would be impossible to list them all, but here are some of the more well-known ones. You can’t go wrong with any of these…

 Uno’s introduced the Chicago-style deep dish pizza in 1943. Their unique buttery crust has been duplicated by none. There are many locations in the city. Closest to the conference is probably the one in Schaumburg, by Woodfield Mall, a 20-minute drive from the hotel.

 Pizzeria Due’s is owned by the same parent company that runs Uno’s. Located at 619 N. Wabash in Chicago, they are just a block away from the original Pizzeria Uno.

 Connie’s brought another version of deep dish pizza when they opened their doors in 1963. There are several locations in the city and suburbs, but none that are particularly close to the conference. If you venture into the city, consider looking one up. Connie’s also has their own trucks that drive around and sell hot pizzas to hungry passersby.

 Gino’s East arrived on the Chicago scene in 1966, touting its deep dish and thin crust pizzas. Several locations exist, but the closest is on 9751 W. Higgins in Rosemont.

 Lou Malnati started his business in 1971, presenting yet another deep dish to Chicagoans. If you go there, be sure to save room for dessert. Their chocolate chip pizza is cookie dough baked in a small deep-dish pan, brought to your table fresh from the oven and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. The most convenient Lou Malnati’s is at 1050 Higgins Road in Elk Grove Village, just 10 minutes from the Hyatt.

 Giordano’s opened its doors in 1974 and introduced the stuffed pizza. The closest Giordano’s is at 9415 W. Higgins in Rosemont, IL.

 Nancy’s started selling stuffed pizza in the early 1970’s. The nearest Nancy’s is on 3560 River Road in Franklin Park, a short cab ride from the hotel.

 Edwardo’s opened in 1978, featuring stuffed pizza. Their signature menu item is stuffed spinach pizza to die for! The easiest way to sample their delights is by visiting their restaurant at Dundee & Milwaukee Avenues in Wheeling, about a 25 minute drive from Rosemont.

Once you’ve had your first bite of Chicago-style pizza, we hope you’ll agree…it’s amore! Don’t leave town without it!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Practical Guide: The Harold Washington Library

If you’re the kind of person who appreciates a great library, the Harold Washington Library Center (HWLC) is a prime destination. Named in honor of Chicago’s first African American mayor, the HWLC was the world’s largest public library building when it opened in 1991. It is the main branch of the Chicago Public Library system.
Learn More About the Harold Washington Library Center


Several HWLC departments are of particular interest to genealogists. The Newspapers and General Publications Center’s holdings include nearly 300 newspapers from every state in the union, as well as English language newspapers from 24 foreign countries. The Center has many Chicago newspapers on microfilm, dating back to 1833. (Clearly, everything wasn’t destroyed by the Chicago Fire in 1871.) The newspaper collection contains complete runs of the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times and the Times of London.

Another department of note is the Government Publications Department, which receives materials from the governments of the United States, Illinois, Cook County and Chicago. The collection totals about 2,000,000 items. The library has been a U.S. depository since 1876. Nearly all federal publications have been collected, including a complete run of the Congressional Record and its predecessors. An extensive collection of U.S. topographical maps and several other map series are found here. The library’s State of Illinois collection dates back to the 1800s. The Municipal Reference Collection is also quite extensive. It includes most published Chicago government documents since the mid-1800s, city ordinances, a clipping file dating from 1956, and a large collection of Chicago-related maps.

The Chicago Public Library website contains many links of interest to genealogists. The website, at http://www.chipublib.org/cpl.html includes links to the Chicago Timeline http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/chihist.html and the Harold Washington Library Center http://www.chipublib.org/001hwlc/001hwlc.html.

The Harold Washington Library Center is located at 400 South State Street, in Chicago’s South Loop. The library is open 7 days a week. It is convenient to both public transportation and abundant parking. See the HWLC website for specific information.

A trip on public transportation to the Harold Washington Library Center from the NGS Conference hotel couldn't be simpler. Walk .3 miles north of the hotel to the Rosemont CTA station. Take the CTA Blue Line to the Jackson/Dearborn CTA station and walk .2 miles SE to the Harold Washington Library. See the RTA Trip Planner at http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com/ for details.