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Showing posts from March, 2012

Taking a Creative Approach to Research: Holy Family Tuition Records

Recently I corresponded with a researcher who had come up with a creative approach to answering a family history question. She just needed someone in Chicago to carry out her plan. I said, "Sure. I'll give it a try if it's okay with you if I blog about it." She said it was. What she knew: Her husband's ancestor's family was in Chicago in 1868. One of the family's children was baptized at Holy Family in 1873. The mother was listed in the 1880 New York census as a widow. Her questions: When did the father die? When did the family return to New York? The researcher had learned that Holy Family Parish School Tuition Records, 1865-1879 were available at the Loyola University Archives and Special Collections and she thought that at least one of the family's children would have been enrolled. Her hope was that the tuition records could help her zero in on when the family left Chicago. I called the Archives and made an appointment to visit. (

You Should Read Jim Craig's Blog: Under Every Stone

Lazarus I love visiting cemeteries, wandering the rows, reading the stones. Sometimes a particular monument will catch my eye and I'll stop for a minute and wonder about the person who's buried beneath it. For me, that's as far as it goes. But not for Jim Craig. Last year, Jim started a blog called Under Every Stone and he uses it primarily to tell the stories behind gravestones that catch his eye on frequent Find-A-Grave trips to local cemeteries. Most, but not all, of the posts relate to Chicago families. The first entry, " Finkelstein: Four Souls in One Tomb ," tells the tragic story of a family that succumbed to a gas leak from an open jet in their kitchen in 1903.  Another early post tells the story of Lazarus Finkelstein from Russia Poland who died in Chicago in 1918 at the age of 107. And then there's the recent entry for Sammy Meisenberg (now spelled "Mizenberg" by the family ) titled " Born a Jew, Lived an American, Died a Pa

Things You Should Know About: A How-to Blog Post, a Book Translation, and a Free Webinar Schedule

I keep an eye out for information that's useful to Chicago researchers and I have a couple of things to share today. First, Ginger Frere of Information Diggers recently shared a link on a mailing list that I subscribe to for a Newberry Library blog post titled " Using ChicagoAncestors.org to Locate Church Records ." Even if you've used the site to search for churches, take a look at the post. Good chance you'll learn something new. And then, a genealogy friend recently made me aware of a new Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of lllinois (GSAGSI) publication that will be of interest to researchers with Czech ancestors. It's Karleen Chott Sheppard's translation of a 1939 book titled A History of the Czechs in Chicago . Here's a link to a  flyer with more details and ordering information. And finally, the Illinois State Genealogical Society has scheduled free monthly webinars for 2012. The next one will be April 10, "Going Digital:

What If You Could Read 50,000 Foreign Language Articles from Chicago Newspapers in English? You Can!

Yesterday, Chicago-area genealogist Jennifer Holik-Urban posted on the ChicagoGenealogy Facebook group to make researchers aware of the Foreign Language Press Survey . It's a new-to-me resource for Chicago research and a valuable one if you have foreign-born ancestors. The site provides access to translations of almost 50,000 articles from newspapers serving 22 ethnic and linguistic groups in Chicago. These translations were done as part of a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s. Visit the survey site (use the link above) and click on " Read about this historic project ." As researchers, sometimes we have to guess how or why a particular resource was created. That isn't the case here. In fact, the background information is  detailed. If you click on the " Press Survey Codes " link, you can read through the subject guide that was used to pick articles for the project. Click on "Return to search" to get started. I didn't ha

Determining 1940 Census EDs for Czech and Slovak Neighborhoods

Kevin Hurbanis sent me a link to his " Searching Chicago's 1940 Czech & Slovak Neighborhoods " page this morning and I asked permission to share it. It's meant as a tool for people who will be looking for ancestors in Pilsen and Lawndale, but it's nicely done and I think it has information that's relevant to us all. Take a look when you get a chance. And if you know of any other 1940 census tools for Chicago, please post a comment and let us know. Kevin--thank you! Update: I posted on the ChicagoGenealogy Facebook page this morning and a group member reminded me that Stephen Morse has some great tools for census research on his One-Step Webpages . Check those out, too!

Embracing our Musical Heritage: What I Learned at Fiddle Club this Weekend

Saturday evening I went to a Fiddle Club of the World gathering to hear Finnish fiddler Arto Järvelä play with the American duo Kaivama . How was it, you ask? Click through to Arto's website and listen to the tune he has playing on the main page. Yes. Do it! Before reading any more, click the link. It'll open in a new window and the music player will start automatically. Now multiply that sound by two exquisite fiddlers playing in harmony and add in a brisk rhythm from mandolin or guitar or a slow drone accompaniment on harmonium and you will understand why  the only word I have to describe the experience is, well, "incredible." And what does this have to do with Chicago genealogy? Plenty, actually. Kaivama musicians Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman are Finnish-Americans hailing from Finnish immigrant communities in Michigan and Minnesota. During a break between tunes, Sara noted, with great feeling, the connection that the music provides to their cultural he

100 Years Ago: Chicago's 75th Birthday

Chicago celebrates its 175th birthday today and news of the festivities reminds me of--well, actually, it reminds me of Valentine Smith, my husband's 1st cousin 3 times removed. In January of 1912, she urged the city fathers to create a public holiday and fund a 75th birthday party for the city but they chose, instead, to read the incorporation documents in a city council meeting. Twenty-five years later, though, they threw a party and invited the world to stop by. Chicago celebrated its centennial with the Century of Progress Exposition . Unfortunately, by that time Valentine was living at the Kankakee State Hospital. Even if she caught word of the world's fair, I think it's unlikely that she was able to attend. If she had gone, though, she would have liked it. A lot. The Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1912, p. 11 (obtained from Fold3.com) Chicago Tribune, March 4, 1912, p. 1 (obtained from Fold3.com)