Kickoff a New Year of Genealogical Resolutions with Free Classes at the Library! – Thrifty Thursday

Do you need to make a genealogical New Years resolution? Kick off your goal with free computer graphicOnline Genealogy classes at the Fountaindale Public Library on January 11, February 8, and March 8, 2015. Each Online Genealogy Class will be held at 2 p.m. in the Local History Room of the Fountaindale Public Library, located at 300 W. Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook, IL. For new researchers, a Beginning Genealogy Class will take place at 1 p.m., one hour prior to each Online Genealogy Class.

In each Online Genealogy class, you will learn how to use online websites and library databases which will help you gather information for your research. We will be taking a look at free websites you can use from home as well as the subscription-based websites available through the library.

A few of the websites featured in the class are Fold3, World Vital Records, Chicago Tribune Archive, Census Finder, Find A Grave, BillionGraves, What Was There, HistoryPin, and Pinterest.
Passport Web Banner-633x187
Fountiandale Public Library’s Online Genealogy Class is part of the Passport To Success program, an initiative designed for our area residents interested in increasing their technology skills through a combination of basic computer classes, social media tools, and online learning.

The Passport to Success program is free and open to all area residents with a valid library card. If you don’t have a Fountaindale Public Library card, don’t worry! Simply provide your own library card number and e-mail address during registration, and you’ll be elligable to participate in the program.

During the Passport to Success program, participants will be eligible for great prizes such as an 8 GB flash drive and a Fountaindale Public Library gift bag. Upon completion, Fountaindale Public Library card holders will be eligible to win one of three laptop computers, and other special giveaway items!

This Passport to Success program was made possible by Fountaindale Public Library, Eliminate the Digital Divide grant funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development, and matching Clinton Global Initiative Funds.

For Fountiandale Public Library card holders who are unable to attend our Online Genealogy classes, checkout our cool Genealogy Course through Universal Class. This on demand class is one of the 500 online courses you can take for free with your library card!

For more information about Online Genealogy Classes, the Passport to Success, or any additional topics, contact the Fountaindale Public Library at (630) 685-4201.

See You At The Library!

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Clever Gifts for Genealogists – Tuesday’s Tip

Need some gift ideas for a genealogist on your holiday list?  There’s a huge temptation to throw someone a gift card to Amazon, Ancestry, or Fold3.  However, if you want to wrap a gift with nifty paper and bows or send a package to a friend in another state, take a look at these fantastic holiday finds!

nextgengenealogyDNA is the brave new frontier for genealogy research. David Dowell’s new book NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection has just been released and I can’t wait to read it!  Our library had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Dowell at our library in 2011, and his book Crash Course in Genealogy is a must read for any and all beginning and intermediate genealogists.  When you get a chance to visit Dr. Dowell’s blog, you can read his description of the book, and some great insight to the genealogy DNA test sales which are on offer right now.  You can save a few dollars by buying this book in an electronic format, but I find the physical copy is always nice to have around to share with friends or a small research group.

Genealogy research in New York state and New York City can be an absolute irishancestorsnewyorknightmare.  One of the breakthrough books I found this year was Finding Your Irish Ancestors in New York City by Joseph Buggy.  This book combines resources, materials, and little known records into a first rate research tool.  After reading the section dedicated to Catholic Church sacramental records, I had a much better understanding of the array of resources kept by the church during different time periods.  I wish book had been around when I was working on a project last year.  As it stands, this is going to be one of my library’s featured titles for Irish genealogy research in 2015.

For the genealogists who hobby in knitting and crochet, centenary stitchesCentenary Stitches: Telling the Story of one WW1 Family Through Vintage Knitting and Crochet by Elizabeth Lovick is a lovely book of patterns, narratives, and amazing projects.  Centenary Stitches is a unique book, as it chronicles both an effort to bring vintage First World War clothing and instructions to a modern audience, while introducing readers to the story of an English family’s wartime experiences featured in the film Tell Them of Us. I loved looking at the new projects inspired by the movie featured side by side the patterns used during time period.  There are a lot of wonderful projects in this book, so your knitting and crochet genealogist will have something new and unique for their book collection!

To customize genealogy gifts for friends, family, or clients, you will want to check out the uber cool assortment of wall decals, custom family tree charts, and surname products on Etsy.  I found some of the best ideas for bringing the concept of a family tree into stunning works of wall art from a few of the items for sale on this site.














I just joined the Daughters of the American Revolution last year, and I’ve been hunting for cool gift ideas for my friends and family members.  The online DAR museum shop is tucked away on the website, but it has some great items fit for anyone across a wide range of ages.  My favorite find on the site is a very cool umbrella, and with a $25 price tag it fits well within most gift-giving budgets.  The site also stocks sophisticated merchandise such as jewelry, serving ware, vases, picture frames, purses, and some very eye catching tree ornaments.

DAR Umbrella

DAR Ornament









For a true hodge podge of create-your-own and funny genealogy items, checkout Zazzle and CafePress.  Both sites have standard t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, hoodies, and key chains, but also offer cool stuff like ornaments, baby clothes, golf balls, shower curtains, and even yoga mats.  I love these sites because they usually have great sales around the holidays, and free shipping for orders over $50.

CafePress Travel Mug

CafePress grant shirt

Zazzle genealogy shirt

Zazzle wine charm














Zazzle iPhone case


Zazzle Genealogy Baby Onsie








If you’re looking to send a gift to GeneaBloggers creator Thomas MacEntee, its common knowledge that he is a big fan of liquid libations, so that Hard Working Genealogist Wine Glass Charm could be a great way to show your appreciation for the Geneabloggers website and Pinterest page.

May your holidays be merry, bright, and full of genealogical breakthroughs!

See you at the Library!



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Giving Thanks for our Colonial Mothers at the Dinner Table – Family Recipe Friday

complete housewifeWhere would we be without our colonial mothers?  While their fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers were working in the fields, shops, and ships, women were toiling away at household tasks, raising children, working in the family businesses, and most importantly – Cooking.  As we gather together to give thanks at one of our most beloved holidays of the year, let’s celebrate how generations of mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins have contributed to an enduring symbol of American culture – the Thanksgiving dinner table.


Thank You SarahTo appreciate the Thanksgiving holiday, we have to look at the dedication and tensity of  Sarah Josepha Hale.  Hale was a widowed magazine editor who made it her duty to petition five US presidents over 17 years to establish a national day of Thanksgiving.  Ultimately,it was Abraham Lincoln who supported and established Thanksgiving as s unifying holiday to heal woulds caused by the American Civil War.  There are two fantastic picture books to share with the little ones in your family – Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday by Mike Allegra.

What were our colonial ancestors serving up at the Thanksgiving dinner table?  English women had access to the Food Network equivalent of mass produced and printed cookbook titles in the mid 1550s.  An early cookbook from this period entitled Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye was printed in 1545, and was so successful it continued to be reprinted for another century.  Putting the cookbook concept into perspective, William Shakespeare was born in April 1564, twenty years after cookbooks were being printed for ladies and domestic staff throughout England.  The bard could just have easily achieved fame if he had dedicated his life to cookbooks instead of dramatic plays and sonnets.

Here are some tried and true recipes which have appeared on dinner plates of our colonial ancestors.  Some have appeared in books and magazines after American Independence, but the instructions, ingredients, and ingenuity are apparent in each entry regardless of their publishing date.

Complete Houswife Title PageThe Compleat Housewife, or Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion, written by Eliza Smith was originally published in London in 1727, and is considered the first cookbook ever to be published in the United States.

In addition to recipes, The Compleat Housewife included directions for household management, domestic tasks, nursing sick family members, preparing home remedies.

New England families had ample supplies of seafood on hand, and the The Compleat Housewife contains ample cooking and serving instructions for lobsters on page 11 of the book.
pot of lobsters page 11
In 1796, flush with victory after the War of Independence,  Amelia Simmons published the first “bestselling” cookbook written by an American, for an American audience.  As cooks had been using books written in England by British writers, Simmons set her book apart from the rest with the title:  American Cookery, or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and all kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake: Adapted to this Country, and all Grades of Life.
As far as researchers can surmise, Simmons promoted uniquely American ingredients  such as turkey, corn meal, pumpkin, and cranberries for the first time in print.  If you’re looking for an early reference to cranberry sauce, you will find it on page five, of her book, along with a two great recipes for turkey.

amelia simmons page 13
Mrs. Henry Onderdonk of Ringgold Manor in Virginia submitted a unique recipe to a book entitled Colonial Recipes from Old Virginia and Maryland Manors, with Numerous Legends and Traditions Interwoven.  The recipe, To Make A Rich Black Cake, was hand written by Martha Curtis Washington, wife of our first president George Washington.  Onderdonk inherited the card from  her great-grandmother, Mrs. Hazelhurst of Philadelphia.  So, who wants to sample a cake served served to George Washington?

Mrs. Washington's Cake Recipe

Building on the cookery skills of their colonial mothers, their successive daughters and granddaughters published their own cookbooks emphasizing the resources and skills to a unique new country.  In Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, Eliza Leslie provided readers with a substantial cookery book pertaining to everything sweet and dessert oriented.  From puddings, preserves, biscuits, jellies, cake, custards, and something called a ‘cup cake’, Leslie states:
  “The receipts in this little book are, in every sense of the word, American; but the                writer flatters herself that (if exactly followed) the articles produced from them              will not be found inferior to any of a similar description made in the European Manner.  Experience has proved that pastry, cakes, &c. prepared precisely according to these directions will not fail to be excellent.”

Unlike The Compleat Housewife, Leslie’s book includes precise weights and measurements listed at the beginning of each recipe.  This is a huge improvement on earlier publications.  With Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats published in 1828, modern cooks are enjoying an instructional concept created by authors in a much earlier era.

baked apple pudding page 23
Let’s talk turkey!  Everyone has an opinion on how our Thanksgiving turkey should be cooked.  Pinterest has a great selection of “new ways” to roast, fry, broil, or serve your turkey this year.  Do you think colonials ate bland turkey over a spit with no gravy?  Think again!  In The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph, the author accounts for multiple ways to make sauce (gravy) using various seafood, fowl, or vegetable ingredients.  If you’re agonizing over your turkey cooking schedule, you need to check this out:
Virginia Housewife Page 72

Americas WomenIf you’re looking to explore the drive and determination of our female fore bearers, you will want to read America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins.  Forget the drudgery of your high school history class, and read this book!  America’s Women is an engrossing and delightful read, filled with stories and examples of how women shaped society and their families from the earliest American colonies to the present day.

Speaking of early American connection are you researching any colonial connections?  Take our poll, make a comment, or share your current project!

See you at the Library!


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Using Try-It! Illinois for Newspaper Research – Follow Friday

Earlier this month, I had a chance to examine Historic Map Works, an amazing site available to researchers through the Try-It! Illinois Database Trial.  With the end of the trial approaching, let’s take a look at the incredible newspaper collections available on this year’s database trial, as well as a few notable resources you will want to explore.

Take a look at the newspaper collections on the Try-It! site.  They can be divided by time and location as follows:

UK Publications
19th Century British Library Newspapers
The Times (London) Digital Archive

Historic US Newspapers
19th Century U.S. Newspapers
Historical Chicago Defender (1909-1975)
Historical Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1989)
Historical New York Times (1851 – 2010)
Newspaper Archive

Modern US  and World Newspapers
Chicago Tribune
ProQuest Newsstand
Proquest Obituaries

As I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about early newspapers on the trial, let’s take a look at the 19th Century British Library Newspapers and the 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.  The strength of these databases are their array of newspaper collections, most notably for major metropolitan areas.  newspapers 1The ability to search for an individual can be done in a keyword search, and by adding a location name, time period.  Try using the ‘Advanced’ search options to add other details which can assist in filtering your results.  Search BOTH content sets, labeled ’19th Century British Library Newspapers & 19th Century British Newspaper, Part 2′ in the box on the bottom.  I forgot to select them during my first few searches on the site, which led to a ‘zero’ result.

Most of the surnames in my Scottish lineage is very plain – Smith, Grant, Stuart, Will, Webster, Barclay.  Add in the common forenames of John, Robert, Agnes, Mary, and Margaret, and you can see why the advanced search feature can be helpful.

But I had a better project in mind for this exercise.  I have a third great grand uncle who published three books (poetry and stories) in the late 1820’s through the mid 1830’s.  Juvenile Lays, Kincardineshire Traditions, and Tales of the Glens.  I wondered if anyone bothered to review his work in a newspaper from the time period.

Using the advanced search option on the site, I submitted the name of Joseph Grant and the title of his first book Juvenile Lays.  The search resulted in a notice of publication from the Aberdeen Journal dated Wednesday, June 4, 1828.
Juvenile Lays 1

Each book title yielded one notice each, the best result of which was a notice for Joseph’s last book Tales of the Glens in the The York Herald, and General Advertiser (in York, England of all places) dated Saturday, March 26, 1836.
tales of the glens review

Taking a look at the 19th Century US Newspapers, I wanted to look at articles for my ancestors from Connecticut during and after the revolutionary war.  Newspaper records from this time are spotty, but I wanted to see what was available.  I conducted a search using the basic search options, keyword (variants of Ezra AND Pope AND Independence) in Ohio and Connecticut.  No results were found, but I learned how the site worked with each variant search conducted.  I read random articles from my searches, and enjoyed myself immensely.

While the trial is still active, take a look at Archives Unbound and MyHeritage Library Edition.  I was very fortunate to take a look at Archives Unbound last year just as the database was being released to libraries, and I found some of the books on the site very interesting.  The MyHeritage site looks very promising, but I haven’t had an opportunity to compare this library edition on the trial to a private account yet.  If anyone has the opportunity to do so, I would love to hear what you think.

Remember, the Try-It! Illinois trial ends November 30, 2014, so take advantage of the time you have left!  Let your relatives cook their own Thanksgiving meal or order out your dinner.  There are ancestors waiting to be found on the Try-It! Illinois databases, so don’t keep them waiting!

See you at the Library!

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Using Try-It! Illinois for Genealogical Resources – Wisdom Wednesday

The best stuff in life is free, but it may only be available on a trial basis.

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 Try-It! Illinois Database 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 gush over one of my favorite databases available on this year’s trial: Historic Map Works.

I worked with Historic Map Works ages ago.  It is a great collection of plat maps, city maps, and atlases.  My previous experiences with the site were lukewarm.  Yes, it was nice to have a map, but then I need to find the time to superimpose the plat map with a current US map via paper.  It made maps for some areas of my research readily available, but then all I had were really nice maps.  I didn’t really have a lot of tools to use them effectively.

Fast forward to this year’s trail.  I finally had time to take a look at this site, and it is AMAZING!  The site offers an Overlay feature which combines the plat map with Google Earth called Historic Earth Basic.  If you’re looking for a super easy way to correlate a historic map with a modern image, you absolutely have to try Historic Map Works!

I was able to find an 1899 Plat Map of Bradish Township, Boone County, Nebraska, where my Dudek ancestors were homesteading 160 acres of land.

dudek farm 1899For years, I was curious if the original house was still there, and the Historic overlay answered my question beautifully.

Frank Dudek Historic Earth


After changing the opacity between the historic 1899 plat map and Google Earth, I discovered the farmhouse is gone, and the land itself is part of a larger farming outfit.  There are few houses which still exist today, but nearly everything in that area is gone.  The school, houses, buildings, and even the town Bradish, which was listed as the place of birth on the WWI draft registration papers of my great-grandfather and his brothers, no longer exists.  No wonder I had a hard time searching for local genealogical societies or historical groups in the area!  It’s Nebraska farming country, and not much else.  On the upside, I have a map, and I have answers.

Next month, I’ll showcase a series of digital newspaper resources available on the trial, such as, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, and 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.

Remember, you only have until November 30, 2014 to enjoy this database.  If you think Historic Map Works 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, November 12 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.  Grace DuMelle of Heartland Historical Research Service will present Investigating Chicago Police Ancestors, which will help you find local and online sources for deceased members of the Chicago police force. The program will show you how and when your ancestors joined the police force, where they were stationed, what they were paid, and some of their notable cases. There are special sources as well for those killed in the line of duty.

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

See You At the Library!


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Fall into Genealogy with the Try-It! Illinois Database Trial – Follow Friday

Attention Illinois residents!  Some of the best genealogy resources online are available for free through the Try-It! Illinois Database trial October 1 – November 30 2014.

This annual statewide database trial is sponsored by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois State Library. Try-It! Illinois offers library staff and patrons to survey and evaluate a wide variety of electronic resources. Thanks to the partnerships between the Illinois State Library and the participating electronic resource vendors, there is no charge for accessing these databases during Try-It! Illinois.

Due to the nature of this program, libraries are asked not to post the Try-It! Illinois login and password on the Internet, on Web sites or in publicly archived e-newsletters.  To access these resources, please contact your local Illinois Library and pick up a login information sheet in person!  Beginning October 1, 2014, you can pick up a copy of the Try-It! Illinois login and password from the  Fountaindale Public Library’s 3rd Floor Service desk and at our October and November Genealogy Club Meetings.

Due to the absolutely astounding offering of databases, I’ve compiled a “must see” list of genealogy resources available during the trial:

  • 19th Century British Library Newspapers
  • 19th Century U.S. Newspapers
  • Archives Unbound
  • Digital Sanborn Maps Geo Edition
  • Genealogy Connect
  • Historic Map Works
  • MyHeritage-WorldVitalRecords
  • National Newspapers Core
  • ProQuest Newsstand
  • ProQuest Obituaries
  • Newspaper Source Plus
  • Historical Chicago Defender (1909-1975) (Proquest)
  • Historical Chicago Tribune 1849 – 1989 (Proquest)
  • Historical New York Times 1851 – 2009 (Proquest)

The Try-It! Illinois database trial is a great way for patrons to give libraries valuable observations and feedback regarding online databases.  So please let your librarian know what you enjoyed and what tools you found useful!

The next FPLD Genealogy Club meeting will feature Dr. Daniel Hubbard and his presentation “Space-Time for Family Historians, Timewarps and Curved Space aren’t just for Physicists” on Wednesday, October 8 in Meeting Room A at 7 pm.  This program is an entertaining look at how the times and places we read about and research are often not what they appear to be. Don’t be fooled- decoding dates, comprehending calendars and understanding the time on your ancestor’s pocket watch are not as easy as they seem.  Handouts and light refreshments will be served.

See you at the library!


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Searching for Silent Screen Ancestors – Those Places Thursday

Marguerite SnowDoes your family link back to the world of silent screen acting?  You could be in for a surprise!  During the early eras of film making, nearly 11,000 movies were made in places such as New York City, Chicago, California, and New Jersey, and if your ancestor was living in an area where films were made, there may be a possibility they were involved with the creation of cinema projects.  What’s the daunting part of this research?  According to the Library of Congress, nearly 75 percent of America’s silent films have been lost or destroyed, which is a relatively bleak number.  But there’s still hope everyone, as there are several amazing resources you should check out right away!

Without the credits, and other items found in each film, Early Cinema Collectionwhere can you begin your search?  You need to visit a fantastic site called Media History Digital Library, which has posted a prolific collection of trade and fan magazines from 1903 – 1963, all of which are searchable and available for download from Internet Archive.  Although each magazine or publication is listed individually, you have the option of searching by an ancestor’s name.  Good news, there are lots of pictures credited to actors and actresses alike!  If your ancestor was involved with the movie business, but their film has been lost or destroyed, take heart.  Try using Media History Digital Library’s magazine collection and and the Silent Era Presumed Lost Film List should help you find out more information on individual movies and their writers, creators, and support staff to aid your research.

patchwork girl of oz movieOn a happy note, let’s take a look at this ad for The Patchwork Girl of Oz found in Motion Picture Magazine in published 1914.  The advertisement describes the film, the film creator, the address of the film company, and provides a few photos of the actors.  By searching Internet Archive, I was able to find a copy of the film available for free, as well as a Wikipedia page listing the film credits, cast, and production notes.  The ad also describes two additional Oz Films available for theaters, The Magic Cloak of Oz and His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz.  These are great little films, and as Frank L. Baum wrote the screenplays for all three films, they are of great interest to anyone who loves the Wizard of Oz series.

Batman, Transformers, and Ferris Beuler maybe the best known films shot in Chicago today, but the city has a much older connection to the movie industry.  Before there was Hollywood, there was Essanay Studios.  Never heard of them?  Reaching back to the early film period of 1907-1918,  Essanay Studios in Chicago, the firm grew to one of the largest film companies in the world.  Charlie Chaplin started his career in 1915 at Essanay Studios and shot his first full feature film entitled His New Job.  After losing Chaplin to another studio, and facing a full onslaught of legal battles and money problems, the studio was sold and later merged to a new company called, V-L-S-E which would eventually absorbed by Warner Brothers.  You can find out more about the Essanay Studios archive on their website

As a complete side note, the Library of Congress American Memory project hosts a fantastic collection of early Edison Motion Pictures, and my favorite so far is a 25 second advertisement for Admiral Cigarettes.   I can’t be sure, but I think there’s a cameo by the Village People in the film.  What do you think?admiral cigarettes(Disclaimer: I am in no way advocating the use of cigarettes or smoking by including this in my blog.  I just happen to think this is a very entertaining advertisement from the days of early film.)

Do you have a silent screen ancestor?  I’d love to hear from you!  Post your stories and photos on our blog!

See You At The Library!


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