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Showing posts from September, 2011

John S. Allen: Violin Maker

Today's post isn't about Chicago but it's about genealogy and another subject dear to my heart--fiddles and the people who make and play them. A few weeks ago a bit of insomnia brought me a couple of satisfying research finds, both fiddle-related, and today I thought I'd share one of them. John S. Allen On December 23, 2008, a fellow fiddler started a discussion on Fiddle Hangout titled " Who was John S. Allen? " I spent the holiday trying to answer that question. I knew that Mr. Allen had studied violin making with J. B. Squier in Boston, probably in the 1890s, and I knew that he had some connection to Battle Creek, Michigan, most likely moving there to work with Mr. Squier's son, V. C. but that was all I knew. Without an age or birth place or parent or sibling or spouse--some little something in addition to the name--I exhausted most all of the options I had and finally gave up the search. Recently a Fiddle Hangout member who had seen the archiv

Now Online: Chicago Catholic Church Records to 1915

You can now browse Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic church records online for free at FamilySearch and because the Archdiocese includes nearby towns, you will also find records for places like Oak Park, Evanston, and Cicero. To access the images, you'll need to log into FamilySearch but if you don't already have an account, no worries. It's quick and easy to sign up and it's free. To find the images, go to FamilySearch , click on "US, Canada, and Mexico" under "Browse by Location," and scroll down to "Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925." These records were digitized from Family History Library microfilm and even though the date in the title goes to 1925, you'll find that the records for most parishes end with 1915. That was the cutoff year when the records were filmed. So, here are some tips for accessing the records. 1) Many of the books have index pages in the front. 2) If you're not sure which pari

Indexing Chicago Catholic Church Records: Tip for Reading Polish Surnames

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm determined to contribute some time to indexing Chicago's Catholic parish records because I think it will create a much-needed resource for pre-Fire research and this morning I'm working on a page from a Polish church. I'm familiar with the records and I've even bumped into a lot of Polish surnames in 5+ years of working with Chicago vital record searches but I'm still struggling to read some of the names. This morning I was puzzling over the surname in this entry: The "kowiak" was clear but was the surname really Autkowiak? It just didn't feel right. I went to the Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA) website and pulled up the Dziennik Chicagoski Death Notice Index Search 1890-1929 . I typed "kowiak" in the surname box, chose "wild card search" and hit enter. In this case, the answer to my question was on the first page of results. Antkowiak. Of course! I know that &quo

FamilySearch's Chicago Catholic Church Record Indexing Project: Please Help

Yesterday I learned from the IL-COOK-CHICAGO-L mailing list that FamilySearch has begun a project to index Chicago's Catholic church records. The project title is US, Illinois, Chicago—Catholic Church Records, 1833–1910 [Part A] and the resulting index will give us powerful new ways to access these records. Why is the project so important? Just off the top of my head . . . 1) It will create an index to pre-Fire Catholic deaths. 2) It will create a multi-parish index to pre-Fire Catholic births. 3) In many cases it will alleviate the need to try to guess a baptismal parish using a family’s address (which often doesn’t work) 4) It will be a useful tool for locating baptisms that took place in a parish that wouldn’t have been the “logical” choice. I don’t have a lot of free time—we are working very hard to meet our goal of having the new version of ready for public beta by the site’s two-year anniversary this coming October—but I will do my best to