Thanks For An Excellent Genealogy Day!

Dear Genealogy Day Attendees:

All of you are amazing!  Jose and I were reading through the comments from your cards and survey forms, and we are so happy that you all enjoyed the program!

My deepest thanks to everyone who took the time to give us your thoughts and feedback.  My apologies for the microphone issues, but my mic test couldn’t withstand the hurricane force of 101 people in the room!

To everyone with ethnic genealogy requests – I will have a series of mini workshops next year to help you all with those topics.  I try to keep Genealogy Day subjects as broad and far-reaching as possible.  But I’m excited that the interest in ethnic and technology based libraries is going strong!   I will be able to tackle those topics with such an amazing group of patrons.

To Do List for Next Year:

-Better Microphone equipment
-Mic Stands for the audience
-More lunch seating
-Earlier ending time/shorter lunch
-Convince Craig Pfannkuche to speak again; don’t take ‘no’ for an answer
-Tell Jeanne Bloom to work on an Orphan Train genealogy program; bribe her to become my mentor
-Woo Jennifer Holik into doing a program on the ‘destroyed’ Military archives in Missouri
-Ask Jane Haldeman to work on Google Earth Part 2; convince her to build it into her plans to rule the Google world.

What have you taken away from this year’s genealogy day?  What was your favorite topic?  What has this one-day program done for your research?

If you need me, I’ll see you at the Library!

Many Thanks,
Debra, Jose, and the FPLD Library Staff

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1940 Census Madness or How I Learned to Stay Connected with Facebook and a Phone – Wisdom Wednesday

I have been asked to write a blog entry about my personal family history research experience (now in its ninth year) for about a year now.  My life circumstances have not allowed the free time to make this happen… until now, ironically the week that the 1940 Census went “live” online.

What an exciting time in Genealogy! Today at our fingertips (literally, from the comfort of our homes) we are connected through library databases, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, the “Cloud”, genealogy blogs and so many other resources besides sites like the National Archives, Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage and whatever other partner in the 1940 Census release that I may have overlooked!

I’m far from claiming to be a technology whiz but I do have to say that you have to be comfortable enough with perusing online sources in order to fully benefit from the overwhelming amount of information that is now available to us. Anyway, I thought I would detail here how I managed to keep up through Facebook as the 1940 Census came online – all while I was across the country in Washington DC at a national medical facility (where I had frustratingly inconsistent Internet access) and far away from my genealogy records and my home base.

I’ve been on Facebook for several years now (to keep up with my teenage daughters, my family members spread across the country and the small community of families dealing with the same medical condition my daughter has). It was not until recently that I decided to utilize this social network for genealogical purposes – but boy was I glad I did!

The Facebook community of genealogy buffs has grown exponentially in the last year and I’ve learned and kept up on genealogy news right along with them. Some examples of active FB groups I “friended” are: Ancestry, Family Search, Family Tree Magazine, Mocavo, Find My Past US, GenLookups and a variety of local or ethnic historical and genealogical societies (or those in the localities you may be researching).

A mother-lode of information has come from individual state or country research communities sponsored by Family Search (but independently administered). For instance, if you friend the group “Ohio Genealogy Research Community”,  individuals post on their page what surnames or locations in Ohio they are researching, what luck they have had and perhaps a valuable resource they’ve used that you might not have known about. The administrators also have times they will offer their free services to try and help with your brick walls, vital records or cemetery searches or any number of different ways to assist you.

Many of the genealogy societies and sites like Ancestry or Mocavo post links to their very helpful blogs that once again, provide up-to-the-minute genealogy news and research hints or even contests (if you are inclined towards those kinds of things). And, of course, there’s always your library’s Local History department’s blog or posts that can inform, instruct, encourage and entertain as you grow your family tree, so don’t forget to friend your local library page! While I’ve only tried twice so far to contact distant cousins on Facebook (one successfully  and one who unfortunately never responded), there are endless possibilities available for connecting with the younger generations of your family – it just depends on how much online searching you are willing to conduct (and how you feel about cyber-stalking J).

So back to the 1940 Census: since I had limited access to the Internet early this week (okay, my daughter wouldn’t share her laptop with me and the Business Center where I was staying had limited hours), I surfed all the previously mentioned sites and groups on Facebook on my phone to see which states were coming online first (as you probably experienced, the National Archives site had all the states’ census records online Monday, April 2 but had many technical issues, so very few folks were able to access them consistently until Tuesday or after) and on which partner sites: Ancestry, Family Search, or My

Since most of my and my husband’s relatives are from the Chicago area and Illinois was not one of the first states rolled out, I went for Indiana where many of my dad’s relatives lived back then and where they still are. (At this time, I jumped on the available computer for my 2 hour time slot and cruised on over to Ancestry!) I then went to Steve Morse’s Unified 1940 Census ED Finder at to find out which Enumeration District they were in, then plugged that into Ancestry’s 1940 Census search. Twenty pages into the 35 pages of that Enumeration District – BOOM! My first family find in the 1940 Census! Yeah! I downloaded the record on my thumb drive and was off and running, apparently like thousands – millions? – of other genealogy researchers.

Upon my return home, I’ve spent (almost) every waking hour till I posted this blog, searching for my family in Chicago and Buffalo, New York – now that these two states are available fully available online. Found my mother with her parents and my great-grandfather (and not in the place I expected); my great grandparents in Buffalo; my paternal great-grandfather in Chicago but NOT my dad and his parents, at least not yet. Whew! Staying connected, plugged in, up to date, whatever we call it, on all that is new in genealogy research today really is a time-intensive task – but I love every second of it! So, who will you find today – and how??

Happy Searching!

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Genealogy for Kids and Free Beginning Genealogy Classes – Motivation Monday

What does Jennifer Holik do when she’s not preparing for Genealogy Day?   Answer: She writes genealogy books.

Yes, she’s published a group of how-to ebooks on Amazon, a non-fiction a World War II account entitled To Soar with the Tigers and has now tackled the most intriguing market of all: genealogy for children.

Holik’s Branching Out series provides parents and educators with the tools they need to teach genealogical research skills to children and teens.  Six textbooks are currently available in the series, and each title melds the fundamentals of genealogy with interactive and enjoyable activities.  The intent of each book is to promote genealogy concepts with goal setting, vocabulary, reading assignments, and interactive assignments and activities.

The Branching Out series of books begins with six paperback textbooks which are also available as a PDF or PowerPoint download. The PowerPoint files, which were created with the visual and hands-on learner in mind, contain the same information as the textbooks with a few fun and interactive extras.

The books are available on CreateSpace in paperback form at the links provided. The PDF and PowerPoint files are available at the Generations Store.  Book prices range from $24.95 to $34.95 in print format and $17.95 to $24.95 in electronic format.

Holik will publish a series of Branching Out lessons for Adults in April with additional books for families, genealogical societies, and educators to be published later in 2012.

Jennifer Holik will be a guest author and speaker at to Fountaindale Public Library events this April.  She will be on hand to sign books and answer questions at FPLD’s Author Fair on Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  She will also be one of the featured speaker’s at this year’s Genealogy Day on Saturday, April 21 at 9:30 a.m.  Holik will be available in the afternoon on April 21 to sign copies of her book in the exhibit room.   For more information visit the Generations Blog.

IN OTHER NEWS: Sign up today for Fountaindale Library’s Free Beginning Genealogy Class on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m.  You’ll learn basic genealogy research techniques, and our knowledgeable staff will be available to assist you with answering your tough family history questions.  For more information or to register, please call (630) 685-4176.

See You At The Library!


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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 An Underestimated Gem – Motivation Monday

When I teach genealogy classes, I like to poll the group for the type of resources they use., 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 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, Ireland’s National Archives and

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!


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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!

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!


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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.

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