Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Vendors- Societies of the Eastern United States

Not all of the geographic-based societies represented at the NGS conference this year are from the Midwest. We’d like to give a warm welcome to these out-of-town visitors. We hope you’ll pay them a visit while attending NGS.
Learn More About Societies

The Virginia Genealogical Society (VGS)
The Virginia Genealogical Society was organized in 1960 to foster interest in genealogical, biographical, historical and heraldic research; to publish information pertaining to genealogy; and to share genealogical methods, techniques and knowledge among the members of the society. The society publishes a quarterly, the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, and a bi-monthly newsletter. VGS sponsors an annual conference in Richmond and a biannual genealogical institute. In 2007, the Virginia Genealogical Society will co-host the NGS Conference in the States, "Rediscover Virginia: 400 Years of Family History" on May 16-19. To learn more, stop by Booth 304 or visit their website:

The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (G&B)
For nearly 400 years, New York has been known for the diversity of its people. Whether your ancestors were among the first Europeans or Africans who came to New Netherland, or the Native Americans who were already living here, or whether they were among the long stream of immigrants from all over the world who came in the subsequent years, the G&B can help you learn more about those ancestors and the world in which they lived.

The G&B is a membership organization, and new members are always welcome. Benefits of membership include access to all of the Library's collections (published materials, manuscripts, and microforms); subscriptions to the Society’s two quarterly publications, the Record and the Researcher, and discounts on other publications; unlimited queries on the NYG&B Bulletin Board, four free queries per year, published in the Researcher and on the G&B website; access to the Member's Area, and reduced fees for educational programs and the library's record search service. For details, visit Booth 201 or see the G&B website:

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)
The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is the oldest genealogical society in the country. For over 150 years, NEHGS has helped new and experienced researchers trace their heritage in New England and around the world. Today the Society has over 20,000 members worldwide and a professional staff which includes leading genealogists and experts in American, English, Irish, Scottish, and Canadian research. Members have online access to over 110 million names; on-site use of the research library, including special collections and manuscripts; subscriptions to New England Ancestors and The Register; and discounts on goods and services. Members can also take advantage of the Society’s circulating library, with over 23,000 books loaned in the year 2000.

While at NGS, be sure to stop by Booths 509 and 511 to learn more about NEHGS. And on your next visit to Boston, be sure to include a trip to NEHGS to see the vast collection of books, manuscripts, microfilms, and electronic resources, and experience first-hand the expertise of their staff of professional genealogists. See for further information.

Be sure to drop by these booths while at NGS and let them help you plan your next trip “Back East.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chicago Area Libraries

Libraries are great places and are often full of genealogy and local history resources. Some of the best local libraries in the Chicago area include:
Read About Chicago Area Libraries

The Gail Borden Library
The Gail Borden Library, located in Elgin, Illinois, is known for its genealogical resources. Its collection of over 3,900 books is concentrated on Elgin and Kane County, Illinois. There is also information for 25 other states, mostly east of the Mississippi River, and five European countries. The library has hundreds of reels of microfilm and access to on-line research sites. There is a 125-year newspaper index for vital statistics in the area. Good local history resources include newspapers on microfilm going back to the 1800s and “Views of Old Elgin,” a collection of photographs. The Elgin Genealogical Society meets at the library. The Kane County Genealogical Society also covers this area. The library phone number is 847-742-2411, and its website is

Arlington Heights Library
This library, with an exceptional collection of genealogical information, is located in downtown Arlington Heights. There is ample parking and restaurants are nearby. Included in their over 8,000 reference books are Chicago city directories from 1838-1928 (on microfilm and microfiche) as well as other city and county directories and histories. There is a DAR member present on Saturdays to help patrons. The library staff is extremely helpful. The library subscribes to several databases, including America's Obituaries and Death Notices, the largest collection of newspaper obituaries and death notices in the U.S., searchable by individual record, date range, or text contained in the obituary or death notices. For information, phone 847-392-0100 or see the library’s website:

Wheaton Public Library
The Wheaton Public Library, located near downtown Wheaton, is currently undergoing renovations and an addition. However, it is open and ready for out of town visitors. There is information here for all 50 states with emphasis on Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia. The library has a vital records index to Wheaton papers beginning 1885 and, also something not found everywhere, Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970. The local genealogical group is the DuPage County Genealogical Society. For more information, phone 668-1374 ext. 510 or see the library’s website:

South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society Library
Although a little farther removed from the conference site than others, this is a gem. The Genealogical and Historical Society was gifted with a large number of research books. From 1975 to present the library has grown to more than 11,000 books, microfilms and periodicals as well as CDs, maps, and directories. The material pertains to south Cook and east Will counties, Illinois including Chicago's Roseland/Pullman neighborhoods. If you are researching these areas, this is the place for you. Located in the Hazel Crest, Illinois Municipal building, the phone number is (708) 335-3340. See the Society’s website for details:

Barrington Area Library
The Barrington Area Library has a collection of genealogical resources and local history. Of special interest are the family trees, cemetery listings, and town history by Arnett C. Lines, who left his papers to the library upon his death in 1970. Much of this information is available on the "Barrington Area History" section of the library's home page. The library has copies of the Barrington Courier-Review newspaper from February 1890 to the present on microfilm. Library staff and volunteers produce the Barrington Courier-Review Index, which is updated on a regular basis. Indexes for births, deaths and marriages exist from 1890–present. News stories are indexed from 1970–present. For more information call 847-382-1300 or see the library website at:

Schaumburg Township District Library
The Schaumburg Township District Library (STDL) owns a wide selection of materials for individuals interested in genealogy including books, cassettes, videos, handbooks and government documents for the beginning genealogist as well as for the advanced researcher. The collection includes general information on such topics as how to start a search to more specialized materials such as obtaining vital records, county records and land and property research. STDL employs a Genealogy Coordinator who is available to help genealogy researchers with finding materials or providing direction in doing in-depth research. Also available is the Local History Digital Archive. Begun in 2001, it is designed to be a historical collection of digitized photographs, documents, maps, and videos related to the Schaumburg Township area. For information phone 847-985-4000 or see the website:

Fremont Public Library
Fremont Public Library in north suburban Mundelein is home to the Lake County Illinois Genealogical Society’s research facility. The collection includes numerous family histories, cemetery books, and reference materials. There is an extensive obituary collection, and a probate index, newspapers and censuses on microfilm. Fremont Library itself has a good collection of local history books, newspapers on microfilm, and a map of township landowners in the 1830s. For details, call: 847-566-8702 or see the website:

Cook Memorial Library
Cook Memorial Library is located in downtown Libertyville. The library has a collection of genealogical reference materials, including several journals, DAR books and newspapers on microfilm. The library also has an obituary index, and several subscription databases of interest. The Ansel B. Cook Victorian Museum is on the grounds; it contains furnishings and items of historical interest. For information, call 847-362-2330 or see the library’s website:

Winnetka Library
The Winnetka Library's Katharine Greeley Genealogical Collection has over 6,000 volumes that include manuscripts, magazines, microfilm, microfiche, CD-ROMs and computer databases. The collection contains information primarily about states from the Atlantic to the west bank of the Mississippi River, but also contains information from other areas. The Obituary Index covers obituaries published in The Winnetka Talk from 1917-present. The collection is also strong in military history, New England resources, local and family history and heraldry. The library has access to several genealogical databases and subscriptions to major genealogical periodicals. For details call 847-446-7220 or see the library’s website at:

For links to other Chicago-area libraries with genealogical collections, see these websites:

A Library Database - by the members of CAGG-NI

Barrington Area Library Local Information: Web Pages of Local Libraries

If your ancestors came from the Chicago area, why not check out the local library while attending NGS? You never know what you might discover.

Adding Meal Events

Did you forget to add a meal event to your registration or have trouble deciding which luncheon talk you wanted to hear? While it is too late to add to your registration using the NGS website, it is not too late to add a meal event (or three!) while at the conference. Just see the NGS registration person by mid-morning of the day your desired event will take place. Let them know that you want to get in on the fun. Once you pay for the event you will be good to eat, chat, and listen to a wonderful lecture!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Trolley Tours of Chicago

The Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Company offers Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Tours on trolleys and double decker buses. They provide a two hour entertaining and informative tour of the city as well as serving as convenient, low-cost transportation to the city's most popular attractions. The fully narrated tour covers 13 magnificent miles of Chicago's downtown and the Loop. You can Hop Off and explore the city and Hop On when you are ready to continue your tour.
Read About Chicago's Trolleys

Stops on the tour include Sears Tower, Millennium Park, the Theatre District, the Art Institute, the Museum Campus, Navy Pier and North Michigan Avenue. Additional routes include the South Museum Route with stops at the Museum of Science and Industry and the DuSable Museum, and the Ethnic Chicago Route with stops in Chinatown, Greektown and Little Italy. The tours run 7 days a week from 9:00am to 6:30pm.

Adult All Day (price reflects 10% web discount) - $22.50
All Day 2-Day (price reflects 10% web discount) - $31.50
Senior All Day (ages 65 and over, price reflects 10% web discount) - $18.00

For details, phone 773-648-5000 or see the website:

Chicago's Free Trolleys
Chicago's Free Trolleys are a great way to see some of Chicago's most popular destinations. The Free Trolleys run on three routes: the Museum route, the Navy Pier route and the Shopping route. The trolleys serve many popular visitor, cultural and shopping destinations such as Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, Michigan Avenue and Lincoln Park Zoo - with dozens of stops in between. No tickets or reservations are required to ride the free trolleys. To catch one, just look for the free trolley signs at any specially marked stop. The Free Trolley service runs 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend (May 27) to Labor Day weekend (September 4).

The Free Trolleys are operated by the city of Chicago’s Department of Transportation. For details, google Chicago Free Trolleys or follow this link.

For public transit information, call (312) 836-7000. Visitor information may also be obtained 24 hours a day by calling toll-free 1-877-CHICAGO (1-877-244-2246) / TTY (312)/ 866-710-0294 or by visiting the tourism website at

Welcome to Chicago!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Comedy in Chicago

When it comes to comedy, Chicago is second to none! Here are just a few of the opportunities to have a good laugh while in town.
Read About Comedy!

Second City
Since 1959, The Second City has established itself as a Chicago landmark and a national treasure. The theatre that launched the careers of such comic greats as John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and more offers nightly comedy shows, as well as a variety of other programs. The theatre has two resident stages: The Second City Mainstage, which seats 290 and The Second City e.t.c., which seats 180. Each theatre has a resident troupe that writes and performs an original comedy revue. The shows are smart, funny, and highly original.

The Second City is located on the north side of Chicago, at 1616 N. Wells St. The Second City e.t.c. and Donny's Skybox Studio Theatre are located at 1608 N. Wells St. (Piper's Alley.) Parking is available for a fee across Wells street in the Treasure Island parking lot, or 1/2 block west on North Avenue at the Piper's Alley self park garage. Fees range from $6 to $15. For more information, call the box office at 312-337-3992, or see the website:

If you prefer stand-up comedy to improv, then you’ll want to go to Zanies, which brings national headliners to its night club style settings. See the Zanies website for their current schedule at:

The three Chicagoland locations are:
Zanies Chicago, 1548 N. Wells St., Chicago. Phone: 312-337-4027
Zanies St. Charles, at the Pheasant Run Resort & Spa in St. Charles, Illinois. Phone: 630-584-6342
Zanies Vernon Hills, 230 Hawthorn Village Commons (Hawthorn Village Commons Plaza), Vernon Hills, Illinois. Phone: 847-549-6030

The ComedySportz show offers improvisational comedy that is appropriate for all ages. The Red and Blue teams battle it out in front of a referee in games that the audience selects, and points are awarded based on how quickly and effectively the performers complete the games. The eternal battle of Red vs. Blue is improvised 5 times weekly, and the show is never the same twice!

ComedySportz is located on the north side of Chicago at 3220 N. Lincoln Ave. To purchase tickets by phone, or for more information, call (773) 549-8080 or see their website at:

Chicago Comedy Company
This multimedia interactive improvisational comedy theater, describes itself as "the first 100% improvised, 100% audience interactive improv comedy theater dedicated to clean comedy, with no alcohol served or allowed in and no smoking." Live video feed of latecomers provide comedic fodder for those waiting inside to start the show, and a computer internet kiosk allows the audience to search for comedy ideas before and during the show. There's even an interactive iPod station where the audience can play music to create a scene.

The Chicago Comedy Company is located at the Streets of Woodfield Mall, 601 N. Martingale Road, Suite 171, Schaumburg. For information, call 847-240-0380 or see their website:

Blue Man Group
If you prefer your comedy in the form of performance art, try the Blue Man Group. The Blue Man Group is a performance troupe that produces edgy and unique work. The silent but oddly endearing blue trio explore in their humorous and bizarre fashion such questions as what makes art worthy, and how many marshmallows can be fit in someone's mouth.

Blue Man Group performs at Chicago’s historic Briar Street Theatre at 3133 N. Halsted For details call 773-348-4000 or visit the website:
For other possibilities, see the following guides, and have some fun while you’re in town:

Chicago Sun-Times Calendar at:

Centerstage at:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dining in Rosemont

Are you wondering where you can get a good meal while attending the NGS conference? There are plenty of restaurants, with a wide range of cuisines and prices.
Read More About Restaurants!

First are the luncheons, banquets, and local host event offered in conjunction with the conference itself. These offer great opportunities to meet fellow genealogists. The luncheons enable you to hear top speakers and learn more about the sponsoring organizations. The banquets are a chance to celebrate another year of success with the organizations sponsoring them. The local host event, Sweets Home Chicago, gives you a chance to relax and listen to great jazz music while indulging your sweet tooth at the dessert buffet. How can you resist? We hope you will have the opportunity to attend at least one or two of these special events during the conference.

Those seeking other options may want to consider the following suggestions.

At the Hyatt

Garden Terrace
This open-air restaurant is located on the Atrium Level and serves American cuisine for breakfast and lunch. The sandwiches are highly recommended.

Knuckles Sports Bar
The perfect place to get together after a long day, or to catch the big game on one of the 38 televisions. Knuckles offers a large selection of imports and microbrews, with 72 varieties available. There are two pool tables, video games and a juke box. Hours: Sunday - Friday: 11:00 am - 1:00 am; Saturday: 11:00 am - 2:00 am.

Sarah's Pantry
Located in the Main Lobby next to the front entrance, this gourmet coffee house serves Starbucks coffee, cappuccino, espresso and flavored coffees along with a variety of fresh baked goods, fruit, gourmet sandwiches and snacks. Open 24 hours a day to fulfill those midnight coffee cravings.

The Other Place Steak House
Experience the ambiance and charm of a Chicago-style steak house. Located on the Atrium Level, next to Knuckles Sports Bar and Restaurant. Open for dinner, 5:30pm to 10:00pm.

Near the Hyatt

The Great Expoteria
This cafeteria-style eatery is directly across the street from the hotel’s Grand Ballroom entrance. Hot and cold food is available from 7:00am to 4:00pm. Breakfast choices include omelettes and french toast. Lunch offerings include soup, hot or cold sandwiches, a salad bar, and daily hot entrees. Beer and wine are available.

The McDonald’s closest to the Hyatt is at the corner of River Road and Higgins Road, about ¾ mile north of the hotel. The restaurant has a drive through.

People magazine claims that Morton’s serves the best steak in America. The restaurant features a truly memorable dining experience, with service beyond compare and an elegant, clublike setting. Morton's signature menu features perfectly grilled USDA prime aged beef, fresh fish and seafood. Morton’s is located at 9525 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, in the Columbia Centre III building, less than .1 mile from the Hyatt.

This restaurant offers the quintessential stuffed pizza, with fresh, high quality ingredients nestled between two layers of golden crust. NBC-TV called it "the Best Pizza in America." Also on the menu are thin-crust pizza, sandwiches, salads and pastas. Try the stuffed spinach pizza, a Chicago favorite. Giordano’s is located at 9415 W. Higgins Road, at the corner of River Road and Higgins Road, less than a mile from the Hyatt.

Carlucci offers a unique country Italian dining experience reminiscent of the traditional home cooking of Tuscany, with an open kitchen, woodburning oven and simple earthy ingredients. Carlucci is located at 6111 N. River Road, about ½ mile from the Hyatt.

Chez Collette
Chez Collette boasts classic French dining. The Le Bar lobby lounge offers a light menu, live music and special cocktails menu. Chez Collette is located at the Hotel Sofitel. Chez Collette is open 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. Le Bar is open 11:00 am to 12:30 am.

Dominick’s Finer Foods
If you prefer to buy some groceries or need to fill a prescription this well stocked grocery store can accommodate you. It is located two miles from the Hyatt at 1900 S. Cumberland.

For additional possibilities, see the hotel concierge or the Rosemont website:

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Vendor Spotlight: Keepsake Family Trees by Olsongraphics

Keepsake Family Trees are custom designed based on genealogical information provided by customers. Uniquely designed family trees are ready for framing or display in sizes up to 3.5 ft x 25 ft. The many styles include Ancestral Family Trees, Descendant Family Trees, Lineage Society Charts, Wedding Trees and Family Reunion Wall Sized Charts. Archival quality paper and inks are used in these treasures.
Read More About Keepsake Family Trees

A special Keepsake Family Tree of the Frank Sinatra Family has been created especially for this event. Sinatra made the song My Kind of Town famous. Chicago became home to immigrants from everywhere in the world - Frank Sinatra's ancestors immigrated to the United States from Italy. Enjoy viewing the Sinatra Tree and other sample trees at the Keepsake Family Trees booth #905.

Further information on Keepsake Family Trees can be found at or by calling 888-759-4228.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Things to do: Chicago Boat Tours

June is a great time to see Chicago from onboard a boat. Several options are available. Glide along in water taxis, commuter boats, and for architectural boat tours on the Chicago River, or have a real adventure with a luxury dinner cruise on the lake.
Learn More About Chicago's Boat Tours!

Wendella Boats
Wendella is a third generation family run business which has become Chicago's most comprehensive boat tour company. The experienced and knowledgeable docents and tour guides provide educational and insightful narration about Chicago's rich history and magnificent architecture.

Tours are offered seven days a week, April through November. All depart from the 400 North Michigan Avenue dock, at the northwest corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Possibilities include the Chicago River Architecture Tour, the Combined Lake and River Tour or Chicago At Sunset. In addition to tours, Wendella operates the RiverBus Passenger Ferry, Chicago's original water transportation system.

For further information, contact Wendella by phone at 312-337-1446 or see their website:

Shoreline Sightseeing Boat Tours
These tours leave from Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium/Museum Campus. The 30 minute Lake Michigan tours are reasonably priced. An architectural tour on the Chicago River is available. Shoreline also offers a 90 minute Chicago River and Lake Michigan tour. Shoreline runs water taxis on the river and the lake between some of Chicago’s major attractions.

For details, call 312-222-9328 or see the website:

Chicago Architecture Foundation
Marvel at Chicago’s soaring towers while enjoying a 90-minute, narrated river cruise. This tour spotlights more than 50 architecturally significant sites where you will discover the city from a new perspective. Come aboard either of the well-appointed vessels, Chicago's First Lady or Chicago's Little Lady. Both open-air and climate-controlled indoor seating are available to make your journey comfortable. Snacks and beverages are available for purchase on board each vessel.

To purchase tickets, call Ticketmaster at 312.902.1500 or visit Ticketmaster fees will apply.

The Foundation offers walking and bus tours as well. For details, call 312.922.3432 ext. 240 or see their website:

Odyssey Cruises
The Odyssey II cruises on Lake Michigan year-round. These cruises leave from Navy Pier. Brunch, lunch, dinner and moonlight cruises are available. Live music is included.

The cruise route begins going south along the lake shore, past the Adler Planetarium, turns and heads north to Montrose Harbor, then returns south to Navy Pier. Enjoy the beautiful views of Chicago’s world-famous skyline, from the John Hancock, to Sears Tower, the Museum campus, and more. The ship typically remains within one mile of shore.

To learn more, call 888-957-2322 or check their website at:
Whether you are looking for a luxury late-night cruise on the lake or just want to get from Navy Pier to the museums quickly, Chicago’s boat tour operators have something that will suit you.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Vendors – Lineage Societies

The Exhibitor Hall at the NGS conference will include representatives from two of the top lineage societies in the country.
Read About Lineage Societies

The National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
The DAR, founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children. DAR members volunteer more than 55,000 hours annually to veteran patients, award over $150,000 in scholarships and financial aid each year to students, and support schools for the underprivileged with annual donations exceeding one million dollars.

The DAR boasts 168,000 members in 3,000 chapters across the United States and internationally. Any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible for membership.

The DAR Library, one of the largest genealogical centers in the United States, is an essential destination when researching your family history in the Washington, D.C. area. Since its founding in 1896, the library has grown into a specialized collection of American genealogical and historical manuscripts and publications. The library is open to the public.

For more details, visit the DAR at Booth 203 at NGS or see their website at:

National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR)
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution was organized on April 30, l889 -- the l00th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington. The SAR was conceived as a fraternal and civic society composed of lineal descendants of the men who supported the cause of American independence. The SAR is a historical, educational, and patriotic non-profit society that seeks to maintain and extend an appreciation for true patriotism and a respect for our national symbols.

Today the SAR consists of 26,000 members in over 500 chapters in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Almost l65,000 descendants of the men and women patriots of the American Revolution have been admitted since the SAR was founded. To learn more, visit Booth 512 or the SAR website:

Friday, May 19, 2006

Computers and Genealogy – The right tool for the job

Genealogy and computers go together like a hand and glove. Managing, storing and retrieving large amounts of data are what a computer does best. What is genealogy but a large collection of facts, pictures, videos, and possibly sounds?
Read More About Computers and Genealogy

Computers and the internet have revolutionized the research process. It is now possible to contact a researcher or relative across the country and exchange digital photos of headstones or scanned documents in moments rather than days or weeks. Indexes have been developed and posted online that never existed before. Source documents have been digitized and made available to researchers, some free and others for a fee.

A computer cannot think (yet), but it can follow directions. If we learn how to give it better instructions it can be our perfect genealogy partner. The key word is “learn”. Nobody was born with an instinctive knowledge of computers. Don’t be ashamed of that and don’t be intimidated by a collection of circuits and wires. The computer is a tool and like any tool, you need to practice a bit before you can claim proficiency.

Once held as a separate conference, GenTech is now incorporated into the NGS curricula. Let’s take a quick spin through the brochure.

Two tracks are identified as GenTech. Wednesday’s topics cover how to choose and use a digital camera, devising effective electronic queries, finding your immigrant in cyberspace, the NGS book loan collection, the Illinois Digital Archives, and combining traditional and internet research techniques.

Thursday you can learn about computer housekeeping. Clooz™, online surname search strategies, advanced census techniques, New England resources online, documents and books online, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), searchable newspapers online, Family Maps, and Document & Data Protection and Recovery for when disasters happen.

Friday features talks about advanced Ellis Island search techniques, Irish Historic Maps, analyzing and selecting the various genealogy software programs, search engines, effective use of the Family History Library Catalog, spreadsheet tricks, Sanborn Maps, Polish Heritage online research, use of scanners beyond photos, and another take on traditional vs. computer based research techniques and how to incorporate the best of both.

Saturday features a look at what’s new at, real research on the internet,, search and share, cutting edge technologies, Chicago and Cook County research on the internet, using PDAs, and international expansion, and two presentations by Stephen Morse. Stephen Morse has gained fame by creating better ways to search the Ellis Island database. He went on to create tools to enhance searhes on other websites. He’s going to show us how to get more out of existing search applications and how to create one-step search tools of our own.

In addition to the GenTech tracks there is a computer workshop track. These are two hour hands-on computer labs with limited participation and added lab fees.

The first lab is Pamela Boyer Porter teaching genealogical applications for the word processor. This lab filled before the end of April. Bob Velke of The Master Genealogist (TMG) is teaching three labs: Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced TMG techniques. Rhonda McClure is teaching a lab on Using Scanners. Steve Broyles will be teaching the basic skills needed for a mapping project using Deedmapper software. Bruce Buzbee will give a one hour an overview of RootsMagic software.

There are thirty programs designated as GenTech and seven computer workshops, but don’t be fooled. Nearly every program will have at least some reference to an internet source or technology.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Speaker Spotlight: Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens

Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens will be near her childhood stomping grounds when she comes to Chicago. She was born in Evanston, raised in Glenview, and attended high school in Des Plaines. This Illinois native has a lot to share with conference attendees.
Read More About Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens

Ms. Kerstens is a Certified Genealogist and a Certified Genealogical Lecturer, the author of numerous articles, a frequent speaker at local and national conferences, and editor of Genealogical Computing and the NGS News Magazine. Liz co-authored GeneWeaver, software for tracking your family health history.

Clooz™, the software she developed to electronically organize genealogical research, will be the subject of the first of her four presentations.

Having grown up near the largest city on the Great Lakes, it is only fitting that she present They Went Down With the Ship, But Do Their Records Survive? This topic discusses the many shipwrecks that have occurred on the lakes over the last 300 years. If your ancestor was in a shipwreck, Elizabeth can tell you where you might find records about them.

A current resident of Michigan, Liz is well qualified to present In Search of Michigan Ancestors.

Finally, she will present Finding A Needle in the Haystack of Territorial Papers. Tips will be given for wading through the voluminous collection of territorial papers housed by the National Archives to successfully find your ancestor.

Be sure to check out Clooz™ at Booth 300, sold by Ancestor Detective, LLC. Finally, if you do see Ms. Kerstens in the hall, please congratulate her. On May 1st she received the “Most Outstanding Volunteer” award for her work at the Plymouth Historical Museum in Michigan.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Vendors - Professional Societies

Several groups of interest to current and future professional genealogists will have booths in the NGS Exhibit Hall. Of particular interest are the following:
Read About Professional Societies

Association of Professional Genealogists
The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) was formed in 1979 and has grown from 19 to more than 1,300 members worldwide. APG is a professional association for all genealogists who support high standards in the field of genealogy. Objectives of APG include promoting professional standards in genealogical research, writing and speaking, and promoting international awareness of, and interest in professional genealogical services. Membership is open to any person or institution that supports APG’s objectives and the APG Code of Ethics. If you are a practicing genealogist, wish to become one, or are interested in the profession of genealogy, consider visiting the APG booth and their website at:

Board for Certification of Genealogists
The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) is an independent organization not part of or affiliated with any other group. It is a certifying body, not a membership society. BCG’s mission is to foster public confidence in genealogy as a respected branch of history by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics among genealogical practitioners, and by publicly recognizing persons who meet that standard.

The BCG booth provides materials of interest to those who are considering certification. Portfolios submitted by successful applicants are available for public viewing. For additional information, see their website:

Genealogical Speakers Guild
The Genealogical Speakers Guild was founded in 1991 to facilitate better communication between speakers and societies. It maintains an on-line members’ directory to help connect available speakers to interested societies. Society program planners may search the Directory of Members alphabetically by speaker or by location of residence or check the Speakers' Calendar page to determine when speakers may be appearing in their area. The Guild also maintains a Call for Papers page to publicize speaking opportunities. Visit the Guild’s booth or their website at:

International Society of Family History Writers and Editors
The primary goal of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) is to encourage excellence in writing and editorial standards in genealogical publishing. The society embraces all media, including newspapers, magazines, newsletters, professional journals, books (including compiled family histories), online columns, society and personal websites, web logs (blogs), and broadcast journalism of all sorts.

ISFHWE (originally the Council of Genealogy Columnists) was founded in May 1987 at a meeting held in conjunction with the NGS annual conference. Membership is open to present and potential columnists, writers, and editors, as well as publishers, broadcasters, and webmasters for genealogical and historical societies. Members receive the quarterly newsletter Columns, access to the Members-Only website, and have an opportunity to actively participate in one or more of ISFHWE's activities: the Annual Excellence-in-Writing Competition, the Member Publication Promotion Project, the mailing list, discounts on ISFHWE publications, listings on the public website, and special promotions for ISFHWE members offered by partner vendors. For more information about ISFHWE, including their annual writing competition, stop by their booth or visit their website at:

While you are visiting the Exhibit Hall, take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the profession of genealogy and meet others working in this field.

See you there!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Polish Museum of America

The Polish Museum of America and its library are located in the Polish Roman Catholic Union building at 984 North Milwaukee Avenue, just north of the Chicago Loop. It is about a half hour drive down the Kennedy Expressway from the Hyatt Regency Hotel, or a relaxing ride on the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line to Division Street, with a short walk south on Milwaukee Avenue to Augusta Boulevard. Train fare is $2.00 one way. Exact fare only, no change returned.
Read More About the Polish Museum of America

If you are searching Polish roots, this is a ‘must’ stop while you are in Chicago. The Polish Museum of America was started in 1935 and has grown to be one of the largest ethnic museums in the United States. The main room of the museum is located on the 3rd floor and it has displays of Pope John Paul II, actress Helena Modrzejewska, General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Kazimierz Pulaski, a military collection, folk costumes, and a Polish ethnic collection. There is also space for special exhibits. On the 2nd floor is a room devoted to pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

The gift shop has many items imported from Poland including dolls, amber jewelry, crystal, designs from wood shavings and hand-carved wooden items. They carry a 2-CD set of Paderewski in recitals originally recorded between 1919 and 1936. There is also a wide selection of books for sale on searching Polish roots, the history of Poland, language, statesmen and military leaders, and Polish cookbooks.

The Polish Museum of America Library is housed on the 1st floor of the PRCUA building. This library, founded in 1912, has the status of being both a reference and museum library with over 41,000 catalogued books. About 60% of the books are in the Polish language. Of special interest to genealogists is the library’s vast collection of Polish newspapers published in America. The newspaper Dziennik Chicagoski is available on microfilm, and obituaries from 1890 through 1971 are indexed by surname. The library has excellent ‘cheat sheets’ to assist researchers in translating the Polish language to English. There is usually a staff member or volunteer who can help with difficult translations.

The Polish Museum of America is open daily from 11:00am to 4pm, and is closed on Thursdays. Admission prices are: adults, $5.00; seniors (65 yrs. and older) and students, $4.00; children (under 12 yrs.), $3.00. The telephone number is 1-773-384-3352.

The Polish Museum of America Library is open Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, 10am - 4pm, Wednesday 1pm – 7pm and closed on Thursday and Sunday.

Photocopies are 25 cents for 8 ½ x11 and 30 cents for 8 ½ x14. Microfilm reader printer copies are 50 cents each.

Parking is free. Handicap access is from the parking lot entrance door. Ring the doorbell for entrance. Wheelchairs are available. Please call ahead.

For more information visit their website

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Baseball Chicago Style

One of the most important pieces of Chicago's heritage is baseball, even if it is usually of the poorly played variety. And as the only city to continously hold two teams since the inception of the American League in 1901, there is double the opportunity to take in a game.
More Baseball!

Unfortunately, there will only be one team in town during the week of the conference, the White Sox. But for baseball fans, there might not be a better team to see than the defending World Series champions. The White Sox will play host to the Rangers, Tigers, and Indians during the week of the conference. Here is a link for tickets:

Though the Sox are defending their first title since 1917, there should still be some tickets available for many of these games. The Pale Hose play on the city's South Side at U.S. Cellular Field (nee Comiskey Park). The park can be accessed from the Red Line, and there is ample parking if you drive.

Those hoping to go to the North Side to see historic Wrigley Field won't be out of luck even though the Cubs are out of town. The Cubs offer tours of the world-famous ballpark during road trips. There will be a tour on June 10. Tour tickets are $20, and should be purchased in advance.

For those interested in doing genealogical research on old baseball players, the following site is an excellent resource:
Among other features, it gives a listing of the final resting places of several deceased stars of baseball's past.

Thanks to Alex Hickey of Freeport's The Journal-Standard for this baseball piece.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Are you looking for an amazing photo opportunity while in Chicago, or a romantic view of the city? Head to Navy Pier to watch fireworks over Lake Michigan on Wednesday night (after the Local Host Event, of course) and Saturday night! Wednesday's display begins at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday's will be at 10:25p.m. Wednesday will feature music of the 70s, and Saturday hosts Chicago tunes. This blogger has seen the Navy Pier fireworks and there is no good way to describe their beauty over the water, with the city lights in the background. For more information visit

Friday, May 05, 2006

Vendor Hall – Societies

Attending the NGS conference provides an opportunity to learn about the resources of genealogical and historical societies from other areas. Take a mini-tour of the United States when you visit the Exhibit Hall. Among the places to visit, let’s start with the Midwest:
Read On!

Indiana Genealogical Society
The purposes of the Indiana Genealogical Society (InGS) include: fostering an interest in all peoples who contributed to the establishment and perpetuation of the state of Indiana, preserving and safeguarding manuscripts, books, cemeteries, and memorabilia relating to the early settlers of Indiana and aiding in the publication and dissemination of materials pertaining to Indiana, including biography and family and local history. The society sponsors an annual conference and publishes a quarterly journal and bi-monthly newsletter. For details, visit the InGS booth at the NGS conference, or visit their website:

Indiana Historical Society
If you are looking for genealogical resources for the Old Northwest, you’ll want to check out the Indiana Historical Society (IHS). The IHS is a non-profit, statewide organization founded in 1830. The IHS collects and preserves rare books and manuscripts, conducts programs and publishes books that help make history accessible to everyone.

Indiana Historical Society programs include genealogy workshops and conservation programs for documents and textiles. IHS publications include books such as state, local, and group histories, how-to guides, source material, map guides, and more. Among the popular quarterly publications of the IHS are: the Hoosier Genealogist, an illustrated family history journal; Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, a popular history magazine; the Indiana Magazine of History, Indiana University’s scholarly journal; and Black History News ‘n Notes, an African-American Hoosier history newsletter.

The IHS and the William Henry Smith Memorial Library preserve and make accessible one of the largest archival repositories of material on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest. Located in Indianapolis, the library is open to the public. For more information, visit the Indiana Historical Society’s booth at the NGS conference, or visit their web site:

Iowa Genealogical Society
The Iowa Genealogical Society (IaGS) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and foster an interest in genealogy and to aid others in researching their family history. IaGS was founded in 1965 by a small group of dedicated genealogists who met in members' houses and carried the original genealogy collection in an orange crate. Today the society has 3,000+ members worldwide and the book collection alone spans the length of over five football fields. IaGS has a state-of-the-art research facility that integrates technology with traditional research. The facility provides a wireless network, high speed Internet access, a bank of computers, and a reader-printer that scans microfilm images direct to CR-ROM. There are 20,000 volumes and 15,000 microforms, including: vital records, histories, federal and state census records, military records and more. The facility is open 6 days a week. The Iowa Genealogical Society offers genealogy classes, annual conferences and sponsors special interest groups. For more information, visit the IaGS booth at the NGS conference, or visit their website:

Ohio Genealogical Society
The Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) is the largest state genealogical society in the United States. Its mission is to meet the educational needs of its members and the general public through the acquisition, preservation, and dissemination of genealogical and historical information. The award-winning OGS Genealogy News, the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly, a 2500 volume lending library, publication discounts, and a 30,000 volume reference library are among the resources available to members. The OGS also hosts an annual genealogy conference each spring with nationally known speakers. Check out the details at:

Winnebagoland Genealogical Society
The Winnebagoland Genealogical Society serves Winnebago County, including Oshkosh and the surrounding area of Wisconsin. Oshkosh is 86 miles northwest of Milwaukee, in central Wisconsin. The society has compiled and published indexes for birth, death, and marriage records of the county. A research guide and one divorce index are also available. The Winnebagoland Genealogical Society meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Oshkosh Public Library. For further information, visit the Winnebagoland Genealogical Society’s booth at the NGS conference, or visit the Oshkosh Public Library’s website:

Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) is both a state agency and a private membership organization. Founded in 1846, two years before statehood, and chartered in 1853, it is the oldest American historical society to receive continuous public funding. The WHS Library Archives possesses one of the largest genealogical collections in the country. The Library attempts to collect all available historical and genealogical materials relating to any part of the U.S. and Canada. The Society has put more than 250,000 pages from its collections on their website and created databases that contain more than 2 million names. Society staff will be available at the Exhibit Hall during the NGS conference for consultations and to help you make the most of their outstanding website. For more information, visit the Wisconsin Historical Society’s booth at the NGS conference, or visit their website:

If you have roots in the Midwest, be sure to visit society booths to find out how they can help you with your research.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Newberry Library

The Newberry Library has created a page on their website just for NGS conference attendees! The page includes valuable information about the library. Check it out at and be sure to visit the Newberry Library when you are in town!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Conference Attendance Tips

Here are some tips for those of you planning to attend this or any national or local conference.
Read Conference Tips

1. Dress in layers. Conference centers can be too hot or too cold, and often both at the same time, depending on whom you talk to. So bring a sweater or light jacket. That way your comfort level won’t be dependent on the hotel’s engineering staff.

2. Wear comfortable shoes. You may sit a lot of the time listening to presentations, but you may also walk a bit of a distance to get to sessions, meals, and the exhibit hall.

3. Bring a water bottle or other liquid refreshment. Staying hydrated can help you keep going and stay alert through full days of listening and learning. You might also want to bring candy or a granola bar. Avoid those with noisy wrappers if you plan to sneak it during a session.

4. Arrive early. Give yourself extra time to find a parking space, walk from the train station, or wait for a shuttle or elevator. Plan to get to the room a few minutes early for each session, in order to have a better selection of seats - whether you prefer to be up front so you can read the screen or near an exit for a quick escape.

5. Come prepared. Bring paper and pen in order to take notes, exchange contact information, or draw a quick sketch of your family tree.

6. Look over the syllabus. Each conference attendee receives a copy of the syllabus which contains the handouts for every session. Make final decisions about how to spend your time. Once you’ve looked at the handouts for a particular session, you may decide that the talk isn’t what you were expecting based on the title. You may see that a talk is at too low or high a level to meet your needs. Perhaps you can gain all of the information that you want from the syllabus material itself, and would rather attend a different lecture. The syllabus material is a great resource to refer to during and after the conference.

7. Network. Talk to people. Nowhere else can you find such a large group of people who share your love of genealogy. You can talk about your ancestors, compare brick walls, and share your latest research success. You may meet people with surnames you are researching or people from the area where your ancestors lived. The person sitting next to you at lunch may volunteer at a research facility that you’ve been meaning to contact. Bring business cards with your name, contact information, and surnames of interest. This makes it easy to exchange information with other researchers. Go ahead and wear that t-shirt with your family tree printed on it. You never know when you might find someone with a common ancestor!

8. Visit the exhibit hall. This is your chance to look at and even try out products before deciding to purchase them. Some vendors offer discounts, hold drawings or raffles, and give free samples. Vendors in the exhibit hall are able to answer questions, provide demonstrations, and even give one-on-one training. Conference vendors have a huge amount of books available for purchase. This allows you to browse through a book before you buy.

9. Volunteer at the conference. It is a great way to give back to the genealogy community and to meet other conference attendees.

10. Most important, have fun! Enjoy yourself, meet new people and return home energized!