Spring Brings Great Genealogy Reads and Online Shows! – Wisdom Wednesday

I’m always on the lookout for books, movies, and other fun fictional stuff featuring genealogists.  Hollywood and fiction writers love to place genealogists in a lot of the same stereotypes – namely obsessed research-driven people who glorify the deceased and whilst bumbling around the present with limited social skills.   Occasionally, I do meet these Hollywood envisioned people, but for the most part, I see the ‘driven’ quality in most of the folks I meet.  Persistence is a trait of genealogists, the way patience is a skill for therapists.

The same could said in my capacity as a librarian as well.  My friends think my life is like the TNT Librarian movies with Noah Wyle.  Or I get the ‘Conan The Librarian’ joke.  Which is still funny.

Last year I asked you all for movies and books featuring genealogists in both fictional and real-world accounts, and the suggestions were fantastic!  Now I want to introduce you to a new batch of awesome genealogy read-and-watch-alikes!

I’ve had a few suggestions to read the Suzie Fewings Genealogical Mystery series by Fay Sampson.  There are currently four books in the series: In The Blood, A Malignant House, Those in Peril and Father Unknown.  Suzie Fewings, avid genealogist and devoted mother, is busy lifting the veil off her family history.  Larger mystery lurks behind the genealogical research, and the end result of each book is surprising.  I enjoyed the first book in the series  very much, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good British mystery.

Related series: Natasha Blake Ancestor Detective Series by Fiona Mountain; Family Tree Mysteries by Patricia Sprinkle.

A few years ago, I read Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck, and I pushed it on every patron I knew.  Thunderstruck chronicles the flight of murder suspect Dr. Hawley Crippen on a ship that is carrying a Marconi wireless communications system.  Crippen thought he was traveling incognito, but the ship’s crew were able to send daily reports of his activities to authorities in New York and London with their wireless system.  Crippen was arrested, found guilty, and executed in London.  Erik Larson, who would later publish Devil In The White City, was able to create a gripping narrative of Dr. Crippen’s Atlantic crossing and Marconi’s passionate drive to prove his device was a technological advantage.  Where does the genealogy come into play you ask?  Then you need to watch Secrets of the Dead: Executed in Error.  You can watch it online at PBS for free!  During the course of a new forensic investigation into the case, a genealogist submitted evidence that Dr. Crippen may not have been guilty of the crime in which he was accused.  It’s a pleasing and thought provoking idea that a genealogist can provide assistance on a case that’s over a century old!

On the non-fiction front, I’ve pre-ordered a copy of Napoleonic Lives: Researching the British Soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars by Carole Divall.  I cannot wait to read it!  I’ve been tossing around the idea of jumping into this aspect of my research, and when I have a better understanding of how these records work, I’ll be on my way.  Napoleonic Lives will be released in June, so while I don’t have it in my hands yet, it still qualifies as a great spring read!

So get out your notebooks genealogists!  Can you suggest a title, movie, or television show?  Post your suggestions in the comment box on this page!

See You At The Library!


Posted in Books and Print Material, Fountaindale Public Library District, Websites | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Censusfinder.com: An Underestimated Gem – Motivation Monday

When I teach genealogy classes, I like to poll the group for the type of resources they use.  Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and Cyndi’s List typically make up the big three places for research.

I don’t have any complaints with these resources; with the except of Ancestry eliminating the US Veteran’s Administration Records.  (Why?  Why, Ancestry?  Why? I totally needed it for the WWI military information!)

I’ll pout later.  But now I’d like to introduce you to a great resource you may or may not have used for your research: Censusfinder.com.

Censusfinder is a database at a crossroads.  It’s a great website, but it has a few issues which daunt most researchers.  Censusfinder is not searchable, so you need to know the state and county of your ancestors’ residency. Each county and state are listed alphabetically, and the availability of records vary from census transcriptions to interesting collections such as:

  • Original Land Owners
  • Biography Index
  • Business Directories
  • Farmers Directories
  • Church Records
  • Resident Lists (by date)
  • School Graduation Rolls
  • Military Hospital, Poor Farm, and ‘Old Folks Home’ Residency Lists
  • Military Honor Rolls
  •  Delinquent Tax Rolls
  • Disaster, Disease, and ‘Act of God’ Victim Rolls and much, much more.

Need to find an ancestor in Coles County, Illinois?  You may find them in the list of 1851 Cholera Victims.  Need an early record for Newcastle County, Delaware?  You’ll find a 1696 -1697 Tax list on this site.  Do you need early school records for Fergus County, Montana?  They have a list of Fergus High School graduates from 1901-1910.

For Irish researchers, I like to suggest Censusfinder’s Ireland Record Page, which has been a great place to find little-known and interesting census, parish, and school records.  It’s an excellent supplement to Findmypast.ie, Ireland’s National Archives and Ireland-Genealogy.com.

So, try Censusfinder and let us know your success stories!  Write about your fantastic finds in the comment box.

Don’t forget to stop by for a presentation of Polish Genealogy: Where to Start with Steve Szabados on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m.!  Steve just published Finding Grandma’s European Ancestors, a book which can help you narrow down a place of origin for your family.  Copies are available for purchase on Amazon, or you can check out a copy in our genealogy section on the 3rd Floor!

See you at the Library!


Posted in Books and Print Material, State Specific Research, Websites | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In Love with Free Online Genealogy Goodies – Follow Friday

Dear Genealogists,

Love is in the air, online, and just a click away.  No, I’m not talking about e-Harmony.  I’m too busy falling in love with the free 1930 census records on Ancestry.com!

From February 16 to 2o, Ancestry is opening its 1930 census online for free.  You’ll find out more about your ancestors as a warm up to the release of the 1940 census in April.

I’ve also learn to love land records again.  This was a thoroughly complicated relationship of long waits, unreturned phone calls, and a lot of anger.  I’d almost given up on the entire thing.  But then Olive Tree Genealogy Blog posted a wonderful article on how to conduct research at the Land Records Office, and I was optimistic and hopeful about the whole affair again!  I can’t wait to renew my relationship with these wonderful records!

I’m looking forward to my birthday in April, and the best present you could give me and to any of your April-born friends is to help index the 1940 census.  FamilySearch has a volunteer page with project information and how you can help make the 1940 census free for everyone!

If you’re in love with a genealogy page, resource, topic, or person, feel free to post them in the comment box.

ALSO: Don’t forget to attend our free upcoming events!

Polish Genealogy: Where to Start with Steve Szabados on Wednesday March 14 at 7 p.m.
Genealogy 101: Where to Begin with Debra Dudek on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m.
Military Genealogy with Tina Beaird on Wednesday, May 9 at 7 p.m.

Genealogy Day will be held Saturday, April 21 at 9:30 am!  Registration is free and is available online or by calling (630) 685-4176.

Jennifer Holik-Urban – Finishing the Story
Jeanne Bloom – Lost Children: Orphans, Vagrants, Delinquents, Half-Orphans, Dependents, Surrendered, Adopted
Craig Pfannkuche – Digging Grandma’s Privy for Family History Information
Jane Haldeman – From Land Records to Google Earth: Mapping your Family’s Place

Remember my friends, the best thing about free online goodies is the lack of guilt you feel after you’ve enjoyed them!

See you at the library!


Posted in Databases, Websites | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be There or Be Square: FPLD Genealogy Club Speaker Schedule updated! – Motivation Monday

What do you have to lose?  Make a resolution to attend more Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club programs! We have three great speakers ready to help motivate you to success!  The FPLD Genealogy Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m in Meeting Room A of the Fountaindale Public Library.

UPCOMING EVENTS                                                                                                          January 11, 2012 – Cemetery Symbolism and Victorian Mourning Customs: Lifting the Veil off Morbid Genealogical Treasures by resident FPLD genealogist Debra Dudek

February 8, 2012 -Branching Out: Learn how to use online family trees and social networking to make connections with genealogist Jennifer Holik-Urban.

March 14, 2012 – Polish Genealogy: Where to Start with genealogist Steve Szabados.


Don’t forget to save the date for Fountaindale Public Library’s Genealogy Day on Saturday, April 21 beginning at 9:30 am.  Great speakers, comprehensive handouts, prize drawings, and great tips make this free event a ‘must see’ for any genealogist or family history researcher.  Space is limited and registration is required!  You may call to reserve your place beginning Monday, February 6 at (630) 685-4176 or you can register online.

Posted in Fountaindale Public Library District, Public Presentations | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Tech Tools That Will Make You Drool – Tech Tuesday

I’m always on the lookout for genealogy tech tools.  Gadgets, software, websites, I love to look at all the cool new stuff and demo as much of it as I can.

With the holiday season approaching, retailers and websites are offering an array of new and improved gadgets which are great for genealogists.  And you’ll find them in the most unlikely places, like Menards or Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Look for special deals and coupons and be aware that these products may offer a special mail-in rebate.  Pandigital’s Handheld Wand Scanner with Dual Rollers and it’s sister the Pandigital Handheld Wand Scanner typically retail for $99, but Lee Lasseigne (a FPLD Genealogy Club member) saw them on sale at Menards for $75 with a special $25 rebate available bringing the price down to $50!  Lee noted this scanner “can be invaluable in a pinch, carry it around wherever you go!”

If you missed the Menard’s deal, you can still save about $19 for the same item by using great coupons at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  First time email subscribers for Bed, Bath & Beyond get a 20% off one item in-store Savings Certificate, which can be used in conjunction with any additional rebates to bring the price of the Pandigital scanner to about $60.  Don’t forget to check your mailbox, because you might be able to use BB&B’s $5 flyer coupons along with your 20% savings certificate!

I found an interesting genealogy website a few days ago.  Family History Notebook offers free online document storage (limit 100), and reasonable plans for up to 4,000 documents.  This could be a great gift idea for the genealogist who is looking to ditch the accordion file folders!

If you haven’t tried Mocavo and the newly launched Mocavo.co.uk, you’re in for a treat.  Mocavo is the world’s first and largest genealogy search engine. In addition to browsing the web for your ancestors, you can publish your own information, share your research, and work on collaborative projects with other genealogists.

If you have any suggestions or comments on these items, post them on our blog!

See You At The Library!


Posted in Technology Tools, Websites | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illinois opens original birth certificates to adoptees! – Tuesdays’s Tip

Have you heard the great news genealogists?

The next phase of the new Illinois open records adoption law went into effect this week.  As of November 15th, adopted persons over the age of 21 who were born in Illinois on or after January 1, 1946 may now request a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate.  Adopted persons born in Illinois prior to January 1, 1946 have been able to request their original birth certificates since the law went into effect in 2010.

Important Note: Under the new law, original birth certificates cannot be issued in person by state or county vital statistics offices.  In most cases, the original birth certificate will list the first and last names of one or both birth parents.   All birth parents may indicate their preferences regarding contact with their adult birth child.

The options available under this new law are different for adopted persons, birth parents and their family members. The options available also change depending on the date of birth of the adult adopted person.

The law also makes provisions for surviving spouses and adult children of deceased adopted persons to make requests for the adopted person’s original birth certificate.

The form for requesting the original birth certificates is available on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website at:  http://www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/vital/pdf/MedInfo_Non_Cert_BC_Request_form.pdf

You can also visit http://www.newillinoisadoptionlaw.com for more information about these changes!

See You at the Library!


Posted in State Specific Research, Vital Records | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Free DNA Genealogy Presentation Nov. 10 at the Fountaindale Library – Thrifty Thursday

Demystify your DNA research with a fantastic fall program at the Fountaindale Public Library!

Noted genealogist and author Dave Dowell will present “Adding DNA Testing to your Genealogical Tool Kit” and sign copies of his new book Crash Course in Genealogy.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room B of the Fountaindale Public Library.  The library is located at 300 W. Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook, IL.

Dave’s DNA program will help answer questions on Which DNA tests should you take and what type of information you can glean from the results.  His Crash Course in Genealogy book signing will follow the lecture portion of the program!  You won’t want to miss meeting this fantastic author and presenter!

Registration for this event is strongly encouraged, and will ensure that our bookseller will bring enough copies of the book to the signing.  Light refreshments will be provided.

I blogged about Dave Dowell’s book, Crash Course in Genealogy back in July, and I really can’t tell you how much I love his book.  I purchased a copy for our circulating collection, and it’s constantly checked out!  In the library world, there’s no better praise for a book title!

You can register for this event by calling the library at (630) 685-4176 or by visiting our registration event calendar online.

Bring twenty of your friends!

See you at the library!


Posted in Books and Print Material, DNA Research, Fountaindale Public Library District, Public Presentations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment