Finding Your Chicago Ancestors

Overview

In this easy-to-use reference guide, family historian Grace DuMelle provides the means to trace Chicago connections like a pro. She shows not just what to research, but how to research. Without wading through preliminaries, readers choose any of the self-contained chapters that focus on the questions beginners most want answered. Other chapters cover the nuts and bolts of the mechanics that are the key to making a family's past come alive, with highlights summarizing important points. In finding Chicago ...
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Overview

In this easy-to-use reference guide, family historian Grace DuMelle provides the means to trace Chicago connections like a pro. She shows not just what to research, but how to research. Without wading through preliminaries, readers choose any of the self-contained chapters that focus on the questions beginners most want answered. Other chapters cover the nuts and bolts of the mechanics that are the key to making a family's past come alive, with highlights summarizing important points. In finding Chicago ancestors, readers will better understand not only their family's history, but also their involvement in the history of a great American city.

Midwest Independent Publishers Association Book Award - 1st Place - Hobby/How- To
Illinois Woman's Press Association Book Award - 1st Place - Instructional Nonfiction
National Federation of Press Women Book Award - 3rd Place - Instructional Nonfiction

The Chicago Roots of Your Family Tree

For almost 175 years, a great metropolis on the shores of a freshwater sea has sent a siren call to immigrants internal and external, giving most Americans some kind of link to the City of Big Shoulders. Whether your people came west from New England in the early days of settlement, or north from Mississippi in the Great Migration; whether they sailed from Sweden and Sicily, or flew from Budapest and Prague; whether they settled here permanently or temporarily, this easy-to-use reference guide will help you document them.

Family historian Grace DuMelle provides the means to trace your Chicago connections like a pro. She shows you not just what to research, but how to research. Without wading through lots of preliminaries, choose any of the self-contained chapters that focus on the questions beginners most want answered and jump right in!

Where do I start?
When and where was my ancestor born?
When did my ancestor come to America?
What did my ancestor do for a living?
Where did my ancestor live?
Where is my ancestor buried?

Other chapters cover the nuts and bolts of the mechanics that are the key to making your family's past come alive, with highlights summarizing important points:

Examples of documents such as death certificates, church registers and U.S. census entries.
Chicago-area research facilities: what they have and how to access it.
Researching using newspapers, machines and catalogs.
Sources for specific ethnic research.
Sources for long-distance research.

In finding your Chicago ancestors, you will not only better understand your and your family's history, but also your and your family's involvement in the history of a great American city.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book is significantly different from many of the books I have reviewed over the years. Most books that are billed as a guide to genealogy research in a particular location are simply lists of where records may be located. . . . This book also contains hundreds of suggestions, finer points, and other tips of use that go far beyond simple lists. . . . Author Grace DuMelle is well qualified to write a book on Chicago genealogy. . . . An excellent resource for anyone researching in the area."  —Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

"Reveals the wealth of documents available for those with Chicago ancestors and how to research them. With many black and white illustrations, author DuMelle covers everything from birth records to burial spots, including address, ethnic and occupational research, websites, Chicago-area research facilities, and tips on how to use microfilm and microfiche machines."  —Family Chronicle

“Though the book is aimed at the Chicago research beginner, the author promises and delivers some surprises for the more experienced researcher. Professional genealogists who work with clients who have Chicago-area or Cook County, Illinois, roots will find this book worth the space it takes on their shelves.”  —Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly

“The tone is conversational and the instructions are clear. . . . Anyone beginning Cook County research should have this book at hand, and it can serve as a touchstone for experienced researchers.”  —National Genealogical Society Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893121256
  • Publisher: Lake Claremont Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2005
  • Pages: 323
  • Sales rank: 1,544,894
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Grace DuMelle is a family historian at the Newberry Library and the owner of Heartland Historical Research, which offers house histories, oral histories, and aspects of family history such as obituaries and church records. She and her company have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and Chicago magazine and on WGN radio. Her clients include the United States Department of Justice, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, and the Niagara Falls Museum in Ontario, Canada.

Fascination with true stories from the past began early for Grace DuMelle. As a child, she heard tales of family connections to the Eastland disaster and the assassination of President McKinley. Several years in Washington, D.C. brought her face to face with pivotal places in the Colonial and Civil War eras.

At what is now Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, Grace studied Chicago architecture under Frances Steiner, author of The Steiner Index to Oak Park building references. She also did extensive primary research in England for an independent study project on Charles Dickens. After graduation Grace became an advertising copywriter, using her writing and investigation skills.

While renovating her husband Walter Podrazika’s family home, Grace hired a specialist to analyze title papers Walter inherited from his grandfather. The conclusion was that the home dated back to the time of the Chicago Fire. This was verified a few years later by the discovery of an 1872 newspaper in the living room wall.

Knowing that other homeowners and institutions would be interested in learning of their past, Grace launched Heartland Historical Research Service (HHRS) in 1995. Working on house histories, she used techniques her father had passed along for finding out about former owners. As her genealogy knowledge grew, she began accepting family history projects, including oral histories—documenting the stories told by senior citizens before that knowledge is lost.

Heartland's projects have taken Grace to libraries and government offices across the Chicagoland area to find answers for clients. Some of Heartland's more notable cases involved finding the original plans for a home in Brookfield, Illinois, in a 1924 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and confirming the characteristics of Mary Todd Lincoln's Chicago neighborhood. HHRS has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Southtown and on WGN radio. Past clients include the United States Department of Justice, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, the Niagara Falls Museum in Ontario, Canada, and Graystone Communications in North Hollywood, California (parent company of The History Channel).

At the beginning of 2001, Grace entered into an association with the Newberry Library, one of the country's foremost humanities libraries, in their Local & Family History section. She guides patrons through the many resources there and frequently lectures on the Newberry's genealogical holdings.

Traveling and exploring are Grace's favorite pastimes. She relaxes with P.G. Wodehouse stories and nature walks.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction: Family History: The Ultimate Reality Show ix
Part I Getting Your Questions Answered
1 Where Do I Start?
Step 1 Gather Your Family's Information 3
Step 2 Organize Your Information 4
Step 3 Begin Research Using the Census, Vital Records, and City Directories 8
Three Beginner's Mistakes to Avoid 13
2 When (and Where) Was My Ancestor Born?
Strategy No. 1 Birth and Baptismal Records 19
Strategy No. 2 Birth Announcements 22
Strategy No. 3 Census 22
Strategy No. 4 School Records 24
Strategy No. 5 Social Security Application 27
Strategy No. 6 Post-1906 Naturalization Records 29
Strategy No. 7 Death Records 30
3 Who Were the Parents of My Ancestor?
Strategy No. 1 Birth and Baptismal Records 34
Strategy No. 2 Delayed and Corrected Birth Certificates 36
Strategy No. 3 Death Records 40
Strategy No. 4 Census 47
Strategy No. 5 Marriage Records 48
4 Who Were the Siblings of My Ancestor?
Strategy No. 1 Census 55
Strategy No. 2 Death Notices and Obituaries 55
Strategy No. 3 Proof of Heirship 58
Strategy No. 4 Divorce Records 60
5 When (and Who) Did My Ancestor Marry?
Strategy No. 1 Civil Marriage Records 68
Strategy No. 2 Church Marriage Records 75
Strategy No. 3 Unindexed Marriage Records 78
6 Where Did My Ancestor Live?
Strategy No. 1 Sources for Addresses 84
Strategy No. 2 Sources for Photographs 93
Strategy No. 3 Fire Insurance Maps 94
7 What Occupation Did My Ancestor Have?
Strategy No. 1 City Directories 101
Strategy No. 2 U.S. Census 105
Strategy No. 3 State Census 109
Strategy No. 4 Sources for Teachers 112
Strategy No. 5 Sources for City Workers (Chicago) 114
Strategy No. 6 Sources for Railroad Workers 116
Strategy No. 7 Sources for Professionals 120
8 When Did My Ancestor Die and Where Is My Ancestor Buried?
Strategy No. 1 Determine the Death Date 124
Strategy No. 2 Determine the Place of Burial 128
9 When Did My Ancestor Come to America?
Strategy No. 1 U.S. Census 141
Strategy No. 2 Death Certificates 144
Strategy No. 3 Late Nineteenth-Century Voter Registrations 144
Strategy No. 4 Church Records 148
Strategy No. 5 Naturalization Records 149
Strategy No. 6 Passenger Lists 161
Part II Practical Advice
10 Nuts and Bolts of the U.S. Census
Tips for Finding Your Ancestor's Entry 176
Census Indexes 177
Soundex and Miracode Indexes 185
Find Your Ancestor by Address 190
Where to Find the Census 197
11 Nuts and Bolts of Newspaper Searching
Before You Start 202
Selected Chicago Newspapers and Where to Find Them 203
Indexes to Chicago Newspapers 207
Selected Suburban Cook County Newspapers 209
Obituary and Other Search Services 209
12 Nuts and Bolts of Birth and Death Records
Birth Records 213
Death Records 221
13 How to Use Machines and Catalogs
Microfilm and Microfiche Machines 231
Library Catalogs 244
14 What to Expect at Chicago-Area Research Facilities
Chicago Historical Society (CHS) 251
Chicago Public Library 254
Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives 257
Cook County Bureau of Vital Statistics 261
Family History Center (FHC)-Wilmette, Illinois 265
Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) 268
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)-Great Lakes Region 271
Newberry Library 275
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Richard J. Daley Library 278
15 Top Web Sites for Chicago-Area Research
Local Institutional Web Sites 287
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 292
Free Internet Sources 293
Subscription Databases 295
16 Ethnic Resources
General Resources 301
Resources by Ethnic Group 303
Cultural Organizations 309
Beginner's Bookshelf 312
Index 314
About the Author 323
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