Chicago Genealogical Society

Upcoming events

    • 2 May 2020
    • 10:15 AM
    • Pritzker Military Museum & Library, 104 S Michigan Ave., 2nd Floor
    • 29

    The Pritzker Military Museum & Library is a center where citizens and service members come together to learn about military history and affairs. The Museum & Library features an extensive collection of books, programs, artifacts, and rotating exhibits which cover many eras and branches of the military. The tour will focus on military history and research. More information about the Museum & Library at

    CGS will be given a special in-depth 90-minute tour of the museum and library. Online registration on the CGS website will be required. Registration opens 1 February 2020. Free for CGS members and $11.00 for non-members. Registration closes 4/27/20 and no refunds after 4/27/20. Group size is limited, waitlist option available.

    We will meet at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, 104 S Michigan Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chicago, at 10:15am.

    • 9 May 2020
    • 1:00 PM
    • American Legion Post #973-Tattler Post, 4355 N Western Ave., Chicago, IL

    Photo courtesy of Purple Hearts Reunited, Inc

    Join us for a simply wonderful afternoon when the charitable foundation Purple Hearts Reunited along with volunteer researchers from the Chicago Genealogical Society return lost purple heart medals to Chicagoland families . . . in a group ceremony where you'll hear about the research and be able to see the framed purple heart presentations . . . that honor these veteran heroes . . . that return their valor to the families and communities . . . that thank our volunteer researchers . . . and that shares with you a researchers' account of how each lost purple heart has a journey all its own, often touching the lives of many people on its way back home. 

    If you're unfamiliar with Purple Hearts Reunited and what their mission can do for a family, this 2-minute NBC News video is a great introduction

    This event's research partner, the Chicago Genealogical Society, has given its now 30 volunteer researchers the opportunity to work with Purple Hearts Reunited to return lost purple hearts since 2014.  Most genealogical researchers tracing their own lineage acquire a skillset that's simply perfect in helping this mission . . . identifying who the correct veteran is and gathering documentation to write their biography.

    This event's hosting partner, Chicago's American Legion Post #973 - Tattler Post in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, is a large group of Chicago veterans from all branches of our Armed Forces. They work to serve our community, state, and nation by being active in our neighborhoods through volunteer programs, social events, and through charitable giving.  They support Purple Heart Reunited's mission: "To return lost or stolen military medals of valor to veterans or their families, in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation."  

    So what's the backstory here?

    Everyday purple heart medals go missing, and the charitable foundation Purple Hearts Reunited rescues them through receiving donations in the mail and by other means.  How and why do purple heart medals go missing?  You name it . . . theft, misplacement, forgetfulness . . . you'll hear many examples at our event.  How are lost purple hearts found?  Again, you name it . . . in purses, garage sales, dumpsters, metal detectors, even a dog digging in her backyard (take a peak at the digging dog in USA Today's video coverage from 2015 . . . if you're wondering, the answer is "Yes!," the evening this video aired, friends saw it and phoned CPL Litman's daughter in California!).

    Once Purple Hearts Reunited rescues a lost purple heart, they contact volunteer researchers, like our large group from the Chicago Genealogical Society.  Sound like easy research?  On occasion it is, especially if the name engraved on the back is extremely unusual.  But since there's no master list of which purple heart medal was awarded to which veteran in which U.S. conflict, the name and the clues that accompany the lost purple heart are often all there is to begin research with . . . and as for researching common American names, just think about how many WWII veterans were named "John Smith" alone . . . over 4,000!

    Once our researchers have completed their incredible task of writing a veteran's biography and finding probable next of kin, it can get even tougher from there!  In this day and age of so many scammers on the phone and online, just imagine what Purple Hearts Reunited has to go through to contact the next of kin in order to return these precious medals to the veteran or family at no cost.  Indeed, they've said, "Thank God for Facebook!" more than once.

    All of this backstory culminates into our May 9th Ceremony, allowing us to honor the veterans and get the valor that accompanies these lost purple heart medals back home.

    If you'd like more information about these three organizations before this inspiring May 9th event, please visit:

    We will meet at the American Legion Post #973-Tattler Post, 4355 N. Western Avenue, Chicago. Look for the American Legion sign on the front door. Attendees please arrive between 12:30-12:45 p.m. Event starts at 1:00pm. Hope to see you there!

    • 15 May 2020
    • 9:30 AM
    • C&NW Archives
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    The tour of the C&NWHS archives includes viewing the types of maps available for research, seeing photo files including many communities in the upper Midwest, viewing community railroad related maps, obituary filled company magazines, many different types of correspondence concerning the development of Chicago, old Chicago deeds, and a new personnel file among other things.

    Our tour guide will be Craig Pfannkuche. 

    CGS will be given a special tour of the archives. Online registration on the CGS website will be required, under events. Registration opens February 1, 2020. Free for CGS members. Group size is limited to 10, waitlist option is available. Note - the Archives is in a warehouse so dress based on the weather outside. 

    Archives is located at Clarence Ave and Stanley Ave, Berwyn, IL.

    Transportation options:

    Car – Park on the streets around the Archives.

    Train – Metra BNSF line, from Chicago Union Station to Berwyn stop arrives 9:09am.  Return train inbound back to Union Station leaves Berwyn 11:21am. The Archives is on the north side of the tracks and three blocks east of Oak Park Ave.

    • 6 Jun 2020
    • 1:30 PM
    • The Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 Knox Ave., Chicago, IL

    The Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) is located on the city’s northwest side in a renovated, turn-of-the-20th century building that sprawls over a full city block. The IAHC is dedicated to fostering Irish heritage, culture and traditions in America. The Center boasts a 658-seat theatre, library, museum, art gallery and authentic Irish pub. A docent will give our group a tour of the Center, including the museum and library. We will also learn what they offer for genealogy research. More information at

    We will meet at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 Knox Ave., Chicago, at 1:30pm. We will gather inside the main entrance on the 1st floor which is located on the Knox Ave. side of the building. There is plenty of FREE parking.

    Note - This is our CGS Annual General Meeting and Program. At the end of the tour, we will conduct our brief annual meeting and voting of officers for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

    • 12 Sep 2020
    • 1:30 PM
    • Newberry Library

    Craig Pfannkuche, the developer of the CGS’s family photographs database on the CGS website will be our speaker. This database is a listing of over 1,000 “carte de visite” and “cabinet card” photographs of individuals taken (mostly) in Chicago between 1855 and 1915. Only those with the names of individuals written on them have been collected.   

    Craig will be making a powerpoint illustrated presentation about “Finding Hidden Clues in Old Family Photos.”  In the presentation, Craig will show how to date when a family photo was taken discussing, for example, the type of photo taken, the type of cardstock on which the photo is pasted, line types and revenue stamps on the card, the types of clothing seen on those pictured as well, even, hairstyles. Also, the material written on the backs of the photos, most often cartes de visite and cabinet cards, can be especially useful in dating photos. He will also show, through the use of actual albums, how the positioning of the photos in albums can disclose family relationships. A number of actual named Chicago photos will also be passed around for inspection. At the conclusion of his remarks, an additional speaker will relate their online photo search success and provide information about finding old family photos online.

    Craig is an independent research professional and President of Memory Trail Research, Inc. He volunteers for the CGS Board as the Ancestor Certificate Committee Chair and is our awesome bus tour guide for our annual genealogical tours. He is also the archivist for the Chicago & North Western Historical Society.

Chicago Genealogical Society is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.  Address: PO Box 1160, Chicago, IL  60690-1160

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