Chicago Genealogical Society

Upcoming events

    • 24 Aug 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
    • Ogilvie Transportation Center, Madison St between Canal & Clinton Streets
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    Using a luxury bus, the Chicago Genealogical Society will be hosting a genealogically oriented tour of the Illinois and Michigan Canal on Saturday, August 24, 2019 which will included such stops as the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, the St. James of the Sag Cemetery, Lockport, Locks at Channahon State Park, the Seneca Grain Elevator and the Fox River Aqueduct in Ottawa among many other places in a beautiful summer setting. Chicago Historian and CGS board member, Craig Pfannkuche, will be our guide to learn about this fascinating time in Chicago’s history and how it changed our Chicago ancestor’s lives.  

    In the early 1830s Chicago was just another lake shore village vying with others to be the key portal to the American west.  Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Waukegan all laid claim to that honor along with St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis residents were certain that their community would be the lead city since their location on the Mississippi River would capture both up river traffic as well as large shipments of grain, lumber, and lead from the north.

    Chicago entrepreneurs wanted that traffic. They remembered that as long ago as the 1670s early explorers believed that a canal could be cut through a muddy marsh which would allow easy all waterway movement between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River valley. As canal building became popular with the 1825 opening of the Erie Canal, these entrepreneurs promoted the construction of a similar canal which would siphon the Mississippi River away from St. Louis trade to Chicago.

    Thousands of Irish canal diggers saw opportunity in Chicago with canal construction beginning in 1836. The canal, called the Illinois and Michigan Canal, utilizing a number of locks was completed to the Illinois River at La Salle in 1848.

    A number of communities along the canal such as Lockport, Joliet, Seneca, and Ottawa experienced greatly increased prosperity because of the canal. Because of the masses of grain now pouring into Chicago to be held for shipping, special storage buildings called elevators were devised. Along with such storage, a method of selling the grain was also devised. Today, the world-famous Chicago Board of Trade continues that tradition.

    Our bus will depart from (and return to) the northwest corner of the Ogilvie Transportation Center (where food & bathrooms are easily available, located on Madison St between Canal & Clinton Streets) at 9:30am. We will return by 4:00pm.  

    Space is limited - first come, first reserved. No refunds after 8/14/19. The online payment service fee will be deducted from refunds.  

    Jimmy John’s Box Lunch includes Sandwich, Chips, Pickle and Cookie. Sandwich Choices are:

    • Italian: salami, capicola, provolone cheese, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, oil & vinegar, oregano, basil on French bread.
    • Ham & Provolone: with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo on French bread.
    • Turkey & Bacon: with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo on French bread.
    • Tuna Salad: with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes on 9-grain wheat bread.
    • Veggie: has sliced provolone cheese, avocado, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo on 9-grain wheat bread.

    *Bottled water and soda will be provided for all participants for lunch.

    • 7 Sep 2019
    • 1:30 PM
    • Newberry Library

    More and more people are interested in learning more about “The Black Sheep” of their family! Find out how to become hot on the trail by using photographs, newspapers, court cases both civil and criminal as well as prison, parole, and other state and federal records.

    Ray Johnson is a former criminal investigator, author, local historian and tour guide. He was born in Chicago and currently resides in Brookfield, IL. He owns Johnson Research Services which conducts research for other authors, production companies, attorneys, government agencies and family historians. He is a former representative of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and a current member of the Jackson Park Advisory Council and Hyde Park Historical Society. He is President and founder of “Friends of The White City” which is a 501c3 dedicated to providing educational programs on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and raising money to help preserve its rich history. Ray has published three books on Chicago history and is currently working on three more. He also writes a history blog called Chicago History Cop for ChicagoNow, a Tribune Company. He has been featured as an expert on Discovery ID, The History Channel, PBS, The Travel Channel and many local stations.

    • 5 Oct 2019
    • 1:30 PM
    • Newberry Library

    Have you ever wandered through a cemetery and wondered about the meanings of the designs carved on old gravestones? The symbols found on headstones usually possess special meanings to those interred in their final resting place. But what do they mean? Take a look at historical mourning customs and a virtual tour of several cemeteries and find out!

    Our speaker, Debra M. Dudek, is Head of Adult and Teen Services at the Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook, IL.  She holds a post graduate certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and is the author of the World War I Research Guide: Tracing American Military and Non-Combatant Ancestors – Includes a Guide to Canadian Military Research which is now in its second edition.  Her book is available as a free e-book download on the World War I Centennial Commission website, and in paperback on

    • 2 Nov 2019
    • 1:30 PM
    • Newberry Library, Chicago, IL

    Discover the world-famous Chicago “L” in all its grit and glory with Greg Borzo, author of The Chicago “L.” This PowerPoint presentation portrays the growth and development of Chicago’s most enduring icon. The “L” has been running 24/7 for 127 years. See how it came to be and how it changed the region. Lavishly illustrated with more than 100 images and popular movie clips, Borzo’s rich historical presentation will inform, entertain and spark memories. Travel through time. Mass transit never looked so good!

    Greg Borzo is an award-winning journalist. He was editor of Modern Railroads Magazine and has been a health and/or science writer for the American Medical Association, Field Museum and University of Chicago. He conducts public tours of the “L” for the Chicago History Museum and other organizations. The Chicago “L” has been favorably reviewed by more than 30 media outlets. His other books include Chicago's Fabulous Fountains, Chicago Cable Cars, and Lost Restaurants of Chicago. 

    Born in Chicago, Borzo lives in the South Loop to better enjoy all the art and architecture, culture and history that the city has to offer. He gives tours for the Chicago History Museum, Chicago Cycling Club, and others.

    • 7 Dec 2019
    • 1:30 PM
    • Newberry Library

    Everything you ever wanted to know about lineage societies but were afraid to ask – the who, what, when, where and how of joining groups like the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames and Mayflower Society are discussed.

    Our speaker, Kimberly Ormsby Nagy MD PLCGS, is a retired trauma surgeon with a lifelong passion for genealogy. She is nationally known for her work with lineage societies, and has served on national boards of several. She has 40 years of experience preparing lineage society applications, and has first-hand knowledge of what is necessary to have an application approved. She has extensive lecturing experience, first as a medical educator, now as a genealogical lecturer. She is excited to speak on one of her favorite topics - "Lineage Societies"


    • 1 Feb 2020
    • 1:30 PM
    • Newberry Library

    Newspapers hold an astounding amount of genealogical and local history information other than obituaries. Learn how to find the hidden gems in newspapers like adoption notices, cards of thanks, society news, tax notices and more. Learn how to locate digital copies of original newspapers as well as what online indexes and abstracts exist.

    Tina Beaird will be our speaker. She is the owner of Tamarack Genealogy and is the Genealogy/Local History Librarian at the Plainfield Illinois Public Library. She lectures extensively on military research, Scottish records, and archival preservation. She is a governing board director of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, the Northern Illinois Historical League and the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board. Tina volunteers her time with several local historical and genealogical societies scanning and indexing historic records. Occasionally, Tina finds time to research her own family tree, which she has been pursuing for over 20 years.

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

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