Chicago Genealogical Society

Upcoming events

    • 6 Jun 2020
    • 1:30 PM (CDT)
    • Webinar

    Chicago Genealogical Society Webinar:

    Travels with My Sister:  Genealogical Journeys 

    Traveling to a significant location in your personal history can be a very satisfying experience. Seeing the homes of your ancestors, walking the paths of your people and seeing the geography that informed their existence can be moving as well as helpful to understanding them. This presentation uses Caron's real-life adventures of traveling to do genealogical research.

    Our speaker will be Caron Primas Brennan.

    Caron loves history, biography, puzzles and a good mystery, which makes her perfectly suited to genealogy research!  She has been researching her family history since a 6th grade school project got her interested. Caron’s only vice is genealogy so she has subscriptions to many resources including,,,, and She is also a big fan of free sites, her most used being

    Caron belongs to several local and regional genealogy groups as well as being a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild and a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.  She is currently the Society Liaison for the Illinois State Genealogical Society; Facilitator for the Chicago Region of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and Web Master for the Chicago Genealogical Society.  She previously held Board positions at the Illinois State Genealogical Society, the Chicago Genealogical Society and CAGGNI (the Computer-Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois).

    When not working at her day job, researching her own family tree or making genealogy presentations, Caron may be researching for others or writing for her blogs! 

    The program handout will be posted in the members only section of the CGS website the day before the webinar under the Webinar Archive tab.

    The webinar will be recorded and saved in the members only section of the CGS website for future viewing.

    Registration is required.

    Please register for Travels with My Sister:  Genealogical Journeys with Caron Brennan on Jun 6, 2020 1:30 PM CDT at: 

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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    • 25 Jun 2020
    • 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM (CDT)
    • Virtual
    • 73

    Virtual Meet-Up: “Ask the Expert” About Chicago Property Records

    With Craig Pfannkuche

    Chicago/Cook County property records are a wonderful source of data for family history researchers.  This is so, in part, because the property records for Cook County are kept in a “Torrens” form.  In every other county in Illinois, property records are organized alphabetically and chronologically. This certainly makes it easy to find a specific land seller (grantor) or buyer (grantee) on a specific data.  It needs to be remembered that, because Chicago was settled in a very ethnic manner with different sections of the city hosting different ethnicities to a great degree, many relatives, when they came to the city, tended to move in very closely to that earlier immigrant family member. What the Torrens system allows, which the other system does not, is for a researcher to actually “walk the streets” of a neighborhood in a specific year looking for the names of relatives.  The records allow one to figuratively walk down a street seeing who all is living on a street in any specific time period.

    There is a second very important reason why Cook County property records should be of great interest to family history researchers.  Often, when a person dies, the family property is passed on to the next generation; sometimes to a married daughter of the property owner.  One can, by looking at the records, discover married family members who can not be found in the “Index to Illinois Marriages.”  Upon occasion, as in the presenter’s case, an adult child who got the property was “blackballed” by her siblings because she, and not other family members, got the property.  The presenter’s parents never once mentioned that married daughter’s family name until the presenter came across it in the property records.

    There is a third extremely important reason to do research in Cook County property records.  Remembering that deaths were not required to be “registered” in Illinois until 1916, those who died while owning property most often had their “estates” go through probate.  The property records make note of deaths which are not listed in the “Index to Illinois Deaths.”  One might think that relatively poor people in Chicago did not own property but, because of Samuel Gross, Chicago “cottages” were much more widely available than is usually thought to low income workers in the 1880’s and beyond.

    Further, property records can indicate whether there were “bad guys” on one’s family tree.

    This presentation will discuss these things in some detail. Additionally, the presentation will discuss the method which one must know in order to search property records as well as where this work can be done.  While one can use a “Property Index Number (PIN)” to find information about a specific piece of property, the presenter will discuss the use of the Sidwell maps to find neighborhood properties even if a specific address and/or PIN number is not known.  It is a most interesting and exciting method for a researcher to use.

    Registration is required via the Chicago Genealogical Society website under Events. At the time of registration, you will have the opportunity to submit a question to the expert. They will try to incorporate submitted questions into the talk and will answer as many questions as time allows after.

    This talk will take place virtually via ZOOM. All people registered will receive an email a few days before the event with log-in instructions and a link. This information is not to be shared.

    If you are not familiar with ZOOM, we suggest you watch this YouTube video ahead of time.

    The talk will be recorded and uploaded to the members only section of the CGS website for future viewing.

    • 25 Jul 2020
    • 10:30 AM (CDT)
    • Webinar
    • 61

    ***Changed to webinar***

    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 webinar will focus on military history and research. More information about the Museum & Library at

    CGS will be given a special webinar by a staff member on the museum and library. Online registration on the CGS website will be required. 

    The webinar will take place virtually via ZOOM. All people registered will receive an email a few days before the event with log-in instructions and a link. This information is not to be shared.

    If you are not familiar with ZOOM, we suggest you watch this YouTube video ahead of time.

    The talk will be recorded and uploaded to the members only section of the CGS website for future viewing.

    • 7 Aug 2020
    • 9:30 AM (CDT)
    • 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.

    • 12 Sep 2020
    • 1:30 PM (CDT)
    • 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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