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, 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.


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