Take a Free Beginning Genealogy Class Online with FutureLearn! – Motivation Monday

Genealogy Researching Your Family Tree Future Learn
I have waxed poetic about FutureLearn and its amazing free online classes in previous posts.  I’ve learned a lot from their history and forensic science courses, and I really enjoyed the course “England in the Time of Richard III,” which proved to be very popular given the 2014 archaeological discovery of the last Plantagenet king buried under a Leicester parking lot.

In an e-mail update today, FutureLearn announced the addition of Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree to the spring schedule.  The class is six weeks and begins on March 14, 2016.  This course is sure to be a boon to beginning genealogists, as this no-cost class offers participants the opportunity to learn techniques from my University of Strathclyde graduate school professor Tahitia McCabe.  Ms. McCabe is a fabulous instructor and educator, and the combination of reading, coursework, and online discussion boards will give participants a way to share their genealogical thoughts experiences.   When you’re finished with the FutureLearn Genealogy class, you may wish to pursue online coursework in the genealogical program at the University of Strathclyde.  The course looks daunting, but I can assure you it is a worthwhile experience to any researcher!

You may also want to enroll in Irish Lives in War and Revolution: Exploring Ireland’s History 1912-1923, which begins on March 14, 2016.  The centennial of the Easter Rising is just a few months away, and if you’re researching your Irish ancestry, it is well worth your while to know the background of Ireland’s Independence movement.

See You At the Library!

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Genealogy Club 2016 Events Schedule – Society Saturday

The Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club will host series of exciting programs and monthly meetings in 2016.  All programs are free and open to the public.  Registration is required or encouraged for larger all-day events due to attendance limitations.  More information on our two live streaming events will be available in a separate blog post.  All our live streaming events are free and will be available to view on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 13   7 p.m.
You Use WHAT for Genealogy? 
Presented by Thomas MacEntee

Wednesday, February 10   7 p.m.
Cemetery Sleuthing
Presented by Patricia Biallas

Sunday, February 21   2 p.m.
Polish Genealogical Society of America Program
The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments Into the Genealogical Narrative
Presented Jeanne Larzalere Bloom

Wednesday, March 9    7 p.m.
Researching at Appomattox Courthouse
Presented by Dr. Danial Hubbard

Wednesday, March 16   9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  LIVE STREAM ON YOUTUBE!
Irish Genealogy: Resources for Success!
Presented by the Ulster Historical Foundation
The Fountaindale Public Library and the Plainfield Public Library District will host an all day seminar on Irish genealogical research presented by the Ulster Historical Foundation. The program will include topics for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Participants are asked to bring a brown bag lunch or to order a box lunch from Brooks Cafe.
Registration opens January 1, 2016 by phone (630) 685-4176 or online on our website.

Wednesday, April 13   7 p.m.
Using Fold3
Presented by Caron Brennan

Saturday, May 7   9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.   LIVE STREAM ON YOUTUBE!
Genealogy Day – Hunting Down Sensational Stories 
Three fantastic speakers will show you new tools and research methods to find the sensational stories experienced by your ancestors. Registration begins February 14, 2016 by phone (630) 685-4176 or online on our website.

Wednesday, May 11  7 p.m.
Will County Illinois Resources
Presented by Tina Beaird

Wednesday, June 8   7 p.m.
Uncle Jake’s Farm: Federal Land A-Z
Presented by S. Elizabeth Ross

Wednesday, September 14  7 p.m.
Looking Beyond A Will: Probate Records
Presented by Jane Haldman

Wednesday, October 12   7 p.m.
Finding Your Genealogy via Secret Societies
Presented by Bob Allen

Wednesday, November 9    7 p.m.
Researching Colonial American Ancestors
Presented by Jane Haldman


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Tech Gifts for the Traveling Genealogist – Tuesday’s Tip

When you’re out and about on a genealogy research trip, there are certain things you may expect such as a clean bed, free wi-fi, and a convenient location to charge your phone.  There are small items that you may not know exist which can be a genealogists new best friend, especially if you’re out and about on an epic research road trip.  Here are a few gift ideas that will keep you or your genealogist organized, informed, and comfortable whilst conducting research on the go.

USB ChargerAmazonBasics 4.0 Amp Dual USB Car Charger for Apple and Android Devices 
You can keep your portable devices powered up and ready to go with an Amazon USB car charger.  The charger has two USB ports, which is perfect for charging your smartphone, tablet, fitness tracker, and so forth.  You and your research partner will have your devices charged and ready to go when you arrive at the library, cemetery, or archive.  This little device has a powerful and rapid charging rate, so you’ll be able to arrive with a full battery and ready to tackle those brick walls!  On the way home, this handy device will help your phone recover quickly so you can call ahead for take out or to keep your family informed of your whereabouts.

Retail Price: $7.99

Pomarks 4in1 Multi-function Pen, 32GB Flash Drive, Stylus & BUSB Pen Stylusallpoint Pen
Do you every have the feeling you’re missing something?  How many times have you walked out of the house and then remember you left your flash drive by the computer?  Those days are over my friend!  I found this cute Pomarks multi-function pen, which has several essential tools you need to keep your research in order.  I love this device because it has all these functions built into one expensive looking package:

  • Red Laser Pointer
  • Black Ballpoint Pen
  • Soft Stylus Tip
  • 32 GB Flash Drive
  • Emergency LED FlashLight

Yes, it’s very cool and looks like something James Bond would own.  Who says genealogists can’t travel with both substance and style?

Retail Price: $29.99

TaoTronics® Handheld Mobile Document Portable Scanner
handheld scannerPortable scanners have really come a long way in the last three years.  My one complaint with these handy devices has been the resolution sizes. I usually prefer to digitize items at the bare minimum of 600 DPI, especially if I know I won’t be back to conduct research in that archive, courthouse, or library again.  If you’re looking for a scanner that will give you the best DPI for your buck, this is a great product.  It has three resolutions (300, 600, and 900) and allows you to choose a JPEG or PDF format.  If you like to scan at the higher end of the resolution settings, you will want to purchase a 32 GB memory card for the device as well.  There’s also an upgraded model which scans at a 1050 DPI with an additional Optical Character Recognition option.   The upgraded item is very drool worthy!

Retail Price: $52.99      Upgraded: $79.95

Jackery Giant+ Dual USB Portable Battery Charger & External Battery Pack 
Dual USB ChargerWhen my friend Tina and I were researching in Ireland a few weeks ago, we were in dire need of a portable battery charger.  We ended up using her schizophrenic laptop as a portable charger, because we were hitting a library, government office, or archive nearly every day during our trip.  Jackery Portable Battery Packs are super reliable and charge your devices with limited downtime. I’m recommending this dual charger as it has the ability to  juice up your phone, a tablet, or another device quickly and conveniently.  Friends shouldn’t fight over a USB space, and they certainly shouldn’t have to rely on a broken laptop to keep their phones alive in Ireland.  Next time, I’m bringing this with me! Note: do not by this at the airport!  You can purchase it from Amazon.com for a huge discount.

Retail Price: $175; Sale Price $22.49

Four-in-One Leather Charging StationFour in One Charging Station
Keeping your gadgets organized, at hand, and ready to go should be a priority for every genealogist.  I have always admired the look of the multi-device charging stations, but many of them were made of wood or plastic, which are not quite aesthetically pleasing.  I found this faux leather multi-charging station device and I love it!  The leather looks very sharp and stylish.  I have used it to charge my tablet, smart phone, and fitness tracker all at once, with an extra space for friends to juice up their devices as well.  As it’s under the $30 price point, this handy little charging station makes for an organized room and a happy pocketbook.  I’m planning to purchase one for my parents next year, because it’s super useful, will work with their decor, and will help keep my father’s OCD in check.

Retail Price: $28.99

If you need more gift-giving inspiration, check out my previous post on holiday presents for hard working genealogists!

See You At the Library!

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Giving Thanks for Vintage Family Recipes – Matrilineal Monday

dinner tableSometimes your new favorite recipe isn’t the one found in a fancy upscale cookbook.   Generations of women have carefully compiled their family’s favorite dishes for church, charity, and patriotic publications for over a century. Many of these special and locally printed books are available online for free from Google Books and Internet Archive.  Try searching for phrases such as ‘church cookbook’, ‘[denomination] cookbook’ or ‘society cookbook’ in the search box of each of these sites to browse their selection.  And while you put the finishing touches on your holiday menus, you will want to take a look at some of these vintage recipes for delicious crowd-pleasing inspiration.

The Trinity Cook Book was compiled in 1925 by the ladies and family cooks of the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Virginia.  A marvelous cookbook of simple and tasty dishes, the Trinity Cook Book was a fundraiser for the church, and includes lovely bonus advertisements for local merchants and service providers.
There are extensive soup, sauce, and dessert chapters in the book, as well as some fantastic small plate and appetizer ideas such as these tasty morsels:

Looking for a potluck holiday dish?  Try a comfort food classic like Swiss steak, a creamy casserole, or a baked ham.  The ladies of the San Rafael Presbyterian Church brought the best of their family recipes from their pantries on the pages of their 1906 cookbook.  Here’s a pot roast recipe to try at your own holiday gathering:
Genealogy alert!  Each recipe provides credit to the ladies who contributed them to the cookbook.  In some instances, the contributors submitted multiple recipes in one or more chapters.  This is the equivalent of an early 20th century Facebook status post of a family dinner table.  What a great way to bridge time between the San Rafael of today with one from the last century.

The ladies of the Central Congregational Church of Topeka, Kansas compiled and published a cookbook  in 1913 for the 25th anniversary of their church.  There are many tasty desserts and meat dishes chronicled in this book, and there are no less than six separate ‘Nut Loaf’ recipes of varying instructions and ingredients.  Here is one of my favorites.  I can’t wait to give it a try!

Last year, I found one of the earliest recipes for Turkey and cranberry sauce from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery book.  It may be interesting to compare this early recipe with one printed nearly 120 later in Favorite Dishes Contributed by the Daughters of the American Revolution.  All recipes, including this one for roast turkey, gravy, and dressing, were contributed by members of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
DAR Cookbook Turkey
This 1916 cookbook is bursting with lavish and impressive dishes for your guests and relations, as well as trusted serving advice, technique notes, and alternative ingredient recommendations.  If your DAR chapter is interested in hosting a historic potluck next year for the centennial of this book, this is the must-read for your members!
Here are two dessert recipes which will allow you to keep a classic staple on the table next to a seasonal sweet treat.  I found this recipe for a ‘Denver Explosion Pumpkin Pie’ which seems rather straightforward.  I do not know what explosion in Denver could have resulted in this pie’s name or reputation, but at least it’s an interesting story to tell around the dinner table.  You will also want to check out the Caramel Pie as a good substitute for those folks who may be allergic to the nuts in a Pecan pie.

Genealogists take note!  The book includes photos of not only the pastor and project organizers, but of nearly all the contributing female members of the church.  All the photos include a list of individuals in the photographs! If you have Topeka ancestors, you will want to check this book for family recipes you have never seen before!

Let’s give thanks for our families, our heirloom dishes, and the togetherness found during the holiday season!

See you at the Library!



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Nosferatu: A Special Silent Film Screening – Thriller Thursday

nosferatu1See the first vampire movie ever made! Experience the the thrill of an authentic 1922 Nosferatu-1922-postersilent film experience of Nosferatu, shown via film projector with a live organ music score and free popcorn!  Visit the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook on Thursday, October 29 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A and see this classic movie just the way your ancestors would have enjoyed: with an old-fashioned projector and a live musical accompaniment!

Widely acclaimed and still rated one of the top five films in history, Nosferatu was  an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel.  Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.

Our guest organist for the evening is Jay Warren, who is a regularly featured photoplay organist for the Silent Film Society of Chicago.  Jay will bring the the brooding and dramatic music of Nosferatu to life with a digital theater organ and powerful sound system.  Love silent films but can’t attend our program?  You can sign up for Jay’s mailing list and see a full list of his upcoming program on his website: http://www.silentfilmsjaywarren.com/events.html

Just to prove how serious we are about this program, our library ordered a vintage copy of IMG_2942Nosferatu from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.  MoMA has a large collection of historic and rare films from around the world, and they are available for loan to public libraries, organizations, and film groups.  The film was delivered today, and our staff is so excited to see this story come to live on the big screen!  Did we mention there’s going to be free popcorn at our event?

Understandably, you may have never seen a silent film before.  Maybe you’re concerned it will be boring, or just not terribly interesting.  But if you prefer Gothic atmosphere to gory violence, special effects without CGI, and a live music performance to a canned soundtrack, then come out to the show.  Take the plunge into a silent film experience with the confidence that wherever you are in Chicagoland, silent film events are keeping the original silver screen stories alive.

If you are outside Chicago and would like to have your own Nosferatu night, you can stream the movie on Netflix or for free through Internet Archive.

See you at the Library!

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Vintage Halloween Party Ideas – Friday’s Faces from the Past

halloween greeting postcard
Do you think Holloween How-To books were birthed by Martha Stewart?  Nope.  Our obsession for harvest and Halloween themed parties, gatherings, and general mischief have been alive and well in our culture for well over a century.  Our consumer culture and love affair with Halloween has been portrayed with postcards, photographs, costumes, and food.  Lots, and lots, of food.

If you dream of bringing a vintage Halloween party to life, here are some great free vintage party planners, idea guides, and invitations.  There’s nothing finer than inviting friends and family to unite in a common goal of celebrating a holiday.  But why spend the money on expensive books and party ideas when you can find some unique ideas online for free?

Please be aware the content of some of these books are not politically correct.  If you are easily offended, you will definitely want to take a pass on these ideas and skip on to my Halloween Pinterest Page instead.

The Jolly Hallowe’en Book by Dorothy Shipman has some of the cutest examples of party invitations I’ve read.  Whether you’re making an e-vite or firing up the printer to send out your own cards, here are some quick and whitty ways to entice your guests to a fun night of party revelry.Halloween invites

Shipman’s book also includes songs, recitations (poetry readings), plays, games, and other amusements.  I was intreiguted by the idea of a progressive Halloween party, where children would go from house to house for activities, treats, and scary stories.  Throw in a little mystery and a talking dog, and you could almost have a Scooby-Doo episode.

Hallowe’en Festivities by Stanley Schell
 provides one of the largest and comprehensive turn-of-the-century guides for Halloween entertaining.  From decorating ideas, to short plays, poems, group activities, food, and fortune-telling, this book provides just about everything you need to be the hostess with the mostest.  Check out a snipit guide to decorating your home room by room:
halloween festivities

Moving from the decorations and the amusements, this book also has a great supper menu with corresponding entertainments to be had around the dinner table.
supper gamesThere’s also a great list of party games which are fun, quick, and don’t require a lot of preparation.  I think some of them require a great deal of imagination.  I could suggest using some inspiration from Pinterest to improve on some of these ideas.  Please note the suggestion, “No game should be continued after the fun has reached its height.”  From that statement, I’m pretty sure the author never had to host a party for a barrage of over-sugared kids before.
halloween program

For a compact guide to a vintage Halloween experience, you can find some great articles, ads, and magazine features online from Google Books and Chronicling America.  The San Francisco Call ran a full page Halloween entertainment guide on October 28, 1900.  The type of amusements and descriptions are really cool!
sundaycallHalloween hijinks seem like a waste of time and energy.  Any sort of property damage could lead to standing up in front of a judge just a few months later.  So imagine my surprise when found a ‘tell all’ of Halloween pranks circa 1910.  A few renegades submitted their previous year’s exploits for print in the Los Angeles Herald.  This example of destruction of property and harassment would have ignited a local media firestorm today:
Woah, kid!

If you can’t get enough of these vintage Halloween ideas, you can read a few of these honorable mentions:
Halloween Party Ideas from Ladies Home Journal (1916)
A Hallowe’en Dinner by United States. Department of Agriculture (1932)

Hallowe’en Ideas by United States. Department of Agriculture (1934)

Hints for Hallowe’en by United States. Department of Agriculture (1940)

Don’t forget!  The Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission is hosting its annual Boardman Cemetery Halloween Open House on Saturday, October 31 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  This is a free family-friendly event, so bring your little ones for trick-or-treating, a cup of hot chocolate, and guided tours by lantern light!  The cemetery is located on Paxson Road, just north of Royce Road, in Bolingbrook.  Here’s a handy map.  The red dot is the approximate location of the cemetery.
Boardman Cemetery mapHappy Halloween!

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Try-It! Illinois Database Season is Now Live! – Thrifty Thursday

Try-It Illinois LogoKick off your fall research season with the Try-It! Illinois Database Trial!

If you’re an Illinois resident with internet access of any kind, you are eligible to access the immense amount of information available during the this year’s trial. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, the Illinois State Library, and numerous electronic resource vendors, Illinois residents can sample, evaluate, and utilize resources free of charge.

Every year, I like to highlight several of the databases for genealogical researchers. This time, however, I would like to highlight some of the best resources available on this year’s trial:

MyHeritage Library Edition
Digital Sanborn Maps Geo Edition
FOLD3 Library Edition
Historic Map Works Library Edition
Historical Chicago Defender (1909-1975)
Historical Chicago Tribune 1849 – 1992
Historical New York Times 1851 – 2012
Image Quest
Newspaper Archive
Newspapers.com Library Edition
ProQuest Newsstand
ProQuest Obituaries
Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War

There’s an amazing selection of new African American genealogical research resources, most notably ProQuest’s collections Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Federal Government Records, Organizational Records, and Personal Papers (1895-1996)  and the NAACP records pertaining to annual conferences, staff files, campaign files, youth department files, and other special records.

What is notably missing from this year’s selection is Ancestry Library Edition, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, and Heritage Quest.  If you would like to see them added to this year’s trial, send an e-mail to the Account Representatives for Gale Cengage and ProQuest.

My favorite new database award from this year’s trial goes to Image Quest, for it’s amazing array of photographs from museums and archives all over the world.  You will not want to miss the amazing collection of photographs from the Chicago History Museum, which is the single largest source of pictorial information for the Chicago metropolitan area from the early 19th century to the present.
Chicago History Museum
It also includes an extensive collection of photographic and print images related to American history before 1870.  You can browse, search, and save photos from the site quickly and conveniently.  I spent several hours today browsing through collections posted from the Chicago History Museum, British Library, National Portrait Gallery, Nativestock, National Geographic, and Panoramic Images.  This is a site you will definitely want visit and linger over.

Remember, you only have until November 30, 2014 to enjoy these databases for free from the comfort of your home.  If you think Fold3, Image Quest, or any of the databases on Try-It! Illinois would be a great addition to your local library’s databases, you will want to call or drop by the library to share your suggestions!

The next Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club Meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.   Gloria Flathom, the DAR District IV Director will be presenting a program on how to research revolutionary war ancestors entitled Three Generations Without Documentation.  The Isle a la Cache chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will also be available to assist you with some of your application or research paperwork before and after the meeting.

All Genealogy Club meetings are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information on Genealogy Club events, please call the Fountaindale Public Library District at (630) 685-4201.

See You At the Library!


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