Family History Research

Wisdom Wednesday – Attend a Schaumburg Library Genealogy Meeting

Are you new to genealogy research and live in the Chicagoland area? Are you an experienced researcher looking for great programming and speakers? Then you will want to check out the Genealogy Group at the Schaumburg Township District Library

Last night a friend and I attended the Genealogy Group meeting for the first time. Neither of us are new to genealogy and we both have experience working with genealogy societies. What we witnessed was amazing! Tony, the librarian who runs the group, is a one man genealogy society in the library. He works approximately 9-10 hours a week and runs the Genealogy Group by himself, the way an entire society board would run a group.

You can read the full extent of what Tony does at Chicago Genealogy at Examiner.com.

What was really impressive is something I have never seen at genealogy society meetings. Tony provided all new attendees, regardless of how long they have been researching with a thick folder full of information. This folder even included a genealogy book. I have never seen a genealogy society provide new members with this much information. What did I receive last night?

  • A handout entitled “A Genealogy Intro” written by Dick Eastmann.
  • A book by a fellow colleague in DuPage County, Jeffrey Bockman, entitled “Give Your Family A Gift That Money Can’t Buy.”
  • Information on the upcoming National Genealogical Society conference with a note that says, “What you can expect to find at a national conference.”
  • Brochure of printed and online genealogy resources.
  • An information sheet about the Genealogy Group and resources online through the blog and library.
  • A huge packet called “Beginning Guide and Research Tips.” Tony’s business card is stapled to the front page so you can contact him with questions.
  • A copy of the Genealogy Group’s surname and locale research list. All new attendees are encouraged to complete this form so connections can be made with other researchers. Sharing information is not required though.
  • The Schaumburg Township District Library’s Genealogy Audiovisual Materials Guide.

I was so impressed with the meeting and the handouts that I encourage everyone to attend the next Genealogy Group meeting in Schaumburg. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. Meetings end by 9:30 p.m. and the library closes at 10:00 p.m.

 

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ProGen Update – October 2011

I just finished reading through my October ProGen assignment on Research Reports. Great refresher since I have not read that chapter in about a year. Now I need to find a research report I have permission to use from a client for my assignment or write a new one on my own research.

In September we worked on writing our Business Plans. Two of my group members already uploaded theirs for review. They are amazing! One is from a woman who has been in business several years and really understands how to write a plan. The other is from a woman who is going to launch her business in 2012. I wish I would have seen examples of these plans last year when I was just starting out.

If you have ever considered joining a ProGen group and have not done it, I encourage you to give it a try. You will learn so much! My group ends in April 2012 and I cannot believe how much better my personal and business research, reports and practices have become.

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Madness Monday – Those Ancestry Leaves

If you follow me on Twitter @jencoffeelover, you may have seen my rant last week about those Ancestry.com leaves and people merging stuff into their trees. Let me explain.

My Holik ancestors came to Chicago from Senetin, Bohemia. They all came to Chicago and appear based on all the records I have found, to not have lived anywhere in between once they got off the ship. Their ship logs all indicated another member of the family as the person in the U.S. they were meeting. For pretty much all the kids that immigrated, Frantisek Holik, their father in Senetin or Anna Holik, their mother in Senetin, was listed as the closest relative in the old country.

I found a tree on Ancestry.com where a woman had merged all my Holik stuff into her tree for a Marie Holek. Names and birth years were close so it must be right? Right?

She took my Marie Holik, sister to my great grandfather John, as hers. She merged in records for that Marie and my great great grandmother Marie Rataj Holik into her Marie.

Now it appears her Marie was born around 1890 and probably lived in Ohio. The records for her husband Jan V* show him in Ohio. BUT her son was born when she was four years old and her grandson was born before her. So I have no idea what her real birth date is, or for her descendants either. But Ancestry showed this person all these pretty leaves so it all was merged into her tree.

Let’s look at what she merged and why I can tell you these are not the same Marie’s.

1890    Birth in Czechoslovakia

Sources: 1910 Federal Census (Chicago); 1920 Federal Censuses (Chicago and Ohio); 1930 Censuses (Chicago and Ohio); New York Passenger List for my Marie Holik.

 1906    Arrival

Source: 1920 Federal Census (Chicago) for Marie Holik born 1883. This is my Marie Holik’s sister in-law Marie nee Rataj Holik.

 28 Apr 1909    Arrival          

Source: New York Passenger Lists for my Mary Holik.

 1909    Arrival       

Source: 1910 Federal Census for my Marie Holik in Chicago.

 1910    Arrival    

Source: 1920 Federal Census Ohio.

 1910    Residence Chicago Ward 34, Cook, Illinois   

Source: 1910 Federal Census for my Marie Holik in Chicago.

 1920    Residence Gorham, Fulton, Ohio    

Source: 1920 Federal Census Ohio

 1920    Residence Chicago Ward 34, Cook, Illinois   

Source: 1920 Federal Census Chicago for for Marie Holik born 1883. This is my Marie Holik’s sister in-law Marie nee Rataj Holik.

 1930    Residence Chicago, Cook, Illinois       

Source: 1930 Federal Census for a Mary Holik married to a J. Frank Holik. These people are not in my tree.

1930    Residence Richland, Defiance, Ohio. This fact is in her profile twice.

Source: 1930 Federal Census

 4 Mar 1944      Death Chicago, Cook, Illinois           

Source: Cook County, Illinois Death Index 1908-1988 for Marie Holik Kratchovil. My Marie.

Can you see why it is difficult to even know what information is accurate for this Marie Holek in this tree?

Moral of this story is – just because Ancestry shows you all those pretty leaves doesn’t mean those records belong to your person. They are possible matches but it is up to you, the human, to evaluate the information in the record being suggested.

Have you run into this in your research? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Wisdom Wednesday – Add Benefits for Genealogy Society Members

I originally posted this on my Generations site. What are your thoughts on this topic?

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At FGS 2011 last week I had a conversation with a President of a Genealogical Society in SW Missouri about research, the society’s benefits, etc. I had tried to meet this person in May when I spent the month down in SW Missouri but we were unable to meet up.

He suggested I join the society. That had been on my mind for a while. Looking at their membership benefits this morning I was a little shocked. $28 for an individual and this does not include a quarterly. The other benefits are GREAT for local members though. Sadly I am not one of them. The quarterly is a separate subscription for $15 a year.

Now, let me say I was born in Chicago but spent many years growing up in SW Missouri. My roots are not there. I have done a lot of pro-bono research for a good friend and one of his relatives by marriage because they have roots in the state and I have been able to look at records my family just can’t provide. My Bohemian ancestors came off the boat and settled in Chicago after 1880 and prior to 1925. I have no Civil War history or anything before that. This friend’s research lets me explore that.

So why would I want to join this society? Because number one, I want to expand my business into Missouri more. My parents still live down there so I have a free place to stay. Good for clients who need research done near where my parents live – the hotel (and some meal) expense is gone from their bill.

Number two, I enjoy a challenge and exploring new repositories and records. Every family’s story is different and I learn so much doing work for others.

Number three, because I want to network and make solid contacts with other researchers and repositories in that area. Again, I want to expand my business down there and build a reputation. I also want to learn things from those researchers because some of my Chicago clients have families that passed through Missouri. Even if that client work does not allow me to travel, I will still learn of resources to suggest for future research or to attempt to obtain long-distance.

Number four, I want to write articles for their quarterly. I want to learn from quarterly articles and be in the “know” about what’s going on in the society so my education level rises.

So what can this society, or others, offer me, as a distance member?

  • A quarterly with their membership. This particular society offers that separately. Need to cut costs? Offer it online like other societies do and a paper option for those who do not like using the computer for such things.
  • Online databases.
  • Online publications that are free for members. I’d rather have access to online books and quarterlies rather than fill my personal library with paper books that I may rarely use because I do not have much business there.
  • Finding aids for their collections. This society in particular has their own research library AND a collection at the main public library in town. I think they have a finding aid they give to members. If they posted that on their website for everyone, they might just attract other members because of all the amazing resources they have. I visited their research library and the main library so I know some of what is there.
  • Ways to network. They have a blog but it isn’t updated very often. They are not on Twitter or FaceBook unless I have completely missed them. I did ask my contact at the society about this. My local society, DuPage County (IL) has a blog that I run. After FGS I have many more ways to expand how we use it and to encourage distant members in particular to post and hopefully strike up more conversations.
  • Consider a webinar of one of the workshops they offer.
  • Post meeting and workshop handouts and summaries online. You know who does a great job of this? Tony at the Schaumburg Library. Schaumburg is fairly close but I have not yet been able to attend a meeting. I can always go to his blog and see what’s going on though from his posts and handouts. His handouts also contain other resources and his comments on articles he’s read in genealogy magazines and journals.
  • Get some Official Bloggers working at your meetings or conference if you have people willing to do this. Then distance members can be in the know.

There may be other things but those are the biggies off the top of my head.

What do you think a society should offer distance members? Please comment below.

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