The Chicago Genealogical Society is pleased to now announce a new ancestor certificate relating to a major event in the history of the city: the sinking of the steamship Eastland in the Chicago River in 1915. Hundreds died in that sinking, becoming the greatest loss of life in Chicago history.
Our society will be issuing a variety of beautiful frameable Eastland Disaster Certificates to those who can genealogically prove (with primary documentation) that they are the descendants of those who were involved in some way in the tragedy and/or its aftermath. Eastland roles include:
- Crew Member, Staff Member
- Responder – Fireman, Fire Insurance Patrolman, Policeman, U.S. Coast Guard
- Other – Local Press, Funereal, Ecclesial, Narrowly Missed, Others who assisted, Witnessed, On Committees, etc.
In addition to the Certificates, the documented applications will be privately archived at Chicago’s Newberry Library.
Applicants for the new Eastland Disaster certificates need to complete a genealogical linkage form available online at ChicagoGenealogy.org, to be mailed in together with paper documentation. A small fee (as described on the application form) covers all certification, printing, and archiving costs. Additional duplicate certificates may also be ordered which can be used as gifts to members of your family. All certificates make great ways to ensure that your ancestors are remembered for generations to come.
CGS Announces November Webinar
Identity Puzzles: How to Make Sure You're Following the Right Character
Our speaker will be J.H. (“Jay”) Fonkert, CG
November 7, 2020 at 1:30pm CST
Merging or separating identities is a core genealogical problem. Sometimes we find a man or woman of the same name in several different places over time and need to merge identity fragments. Other times, we find two easily confounded individuals in the same place and time, and have to separate identities. A series of research vignettes, including the case of two Johan Sebastian Welhavens of Chicago, illustrate the importance of certain identity in genealogical research.
J. H. (“Jay”) Fonkert, CG, is a genealogy researcher, educator, and writer, who focuses on 19th-century Midwest research. He is a co-managing editor of Minnesota Genealogist and president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society. He has lectured at numerous regional and national conferences, lectured for genealogy societies in eleven states, and has published more than 80 research and teaching articles, including three in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. He is a former trustee of the BCG Education Fund and a former director of the Association of Professional Genealogists.
Registration is required via the Chicago Genealogical Society website under Events. Registration will close 1 hour before the event starts. The webinar will take place virtually via ZOOM. All people registered will receive an email the morning of the event with log-in instructions and a link. This information is not to be shared.
CGS Announces October Webinar
Cartographic Tales of Chicago History
Our speaker will be Dennis McClendon
October 5, 2020 at 7:00pm CDT
Historic maps of Chicago tell all kinds of intriguing stories about the city’s origins and development: vanished creeks and woods, big projects never accomplished, forgotten ethnic groups and neighborhoods, mysterious subdivisions, abandoned industrial areas, vice districts and world’s fairs, ghosts of railroad stations and streetcar lines and freight tunnels, reminders of a constantly changing city. Learn about the interesting stories seen in various corners of three dozen maps from Chicago’s past.
Our speaker Dennis McClendon is a Chicago historian and geographer, who makes his living by drawing maps. His design firm, Chicago CartoGraphics, creates a wide variety of maps for the tourism industry and real estate firms, for books such as the AIA Guide to Chicago Architecture and the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the region’s CTA and Pace transit maps, as well as most Chicago-area bike maps. He is well known as an expert on the city’s built environment and transportation, quoted regularly on WTTW’s “Ask Geoffrey” and WBEZ’s Curious City. Check out his website of historic Chicago maps and map sources http://chicagoinmaps.com/index.html.
Registration is required via the Chicago Genealogical Society website under Events. Registration will close 1 hour prior to the event. The webinar will take place virtually via ZOOM. All people registered will receive an email the morning of the event with log-in instructions and a link. This information is not to be shared.
Chicago Genealogy Source: Suburban Digital Newspaper Collections
When you are researching your Chicago ancestors, do you ever think about looking in the suburbs? Many of them did move out looking for a larger piece of land or away from the big city noise. Did they have a summer home? Maybe they stayed in the city but their aunts, uncles and cousins moved out.
If any of your ancestors moved to the suburbs, you should check the local town newspapers for items such as birth and marriage announcements, anniversaries and obituaries. Can’t find the suburban newspaper on one of the big newspaper websites? How about checking the library in the town? You can be surprised what you find. Here are two examples:
Harvard IL – The town of Harvard is in McHenry County (last stop on the train line from Chicago) about 63 miles from the Chicago Loop. The Harvard Diggins Library has a digital archives collection of Harvard newspapers from starting in the 1860’s with a few issues through 1979. http://www.harvard-diggins.org/drtest/index.php Under Harvard Newspapers tab. No library card needed.
Elburn IL – The village of Elburn is in Kane County about 45 miles from the Chicago Loop. The Town and Country Public Library District has an archive of area newspapers database that covers 1882 through 2016. https://elburn.lib.il.us/ Under the History & Genealogy tab, select History & Genealogy Database, Historic Elburn Newspapers. No library card required.
If you know of any libraries in the Chicago suburbs that have a digital archives of newspapers, email the library name to CGS (put Suburban Newspaper Digital Archives Collection in the subject line) or post on our Facebook page so we can share the information. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicago Genealogical Society Announces New Donated Collection
Bob Jerich, retired executive from Lucent Technologies (the company that acquired one portion of the former Western Electric Company), recently made a gift of a significant collection of corporate newsletters of the Western Electric Company. The Microphone was the newsletter of the Western Electric Hawthorne Works facility in Cicero, IL. The corporate newsletter was initially a weekly publication (from 1922 to 1932), before it was changed to a once monthly publication.
Bob had the foresight to save this collection of newsletters from the dumpster when the Hawthorne Works factory was closed in the mid-1980s. Not only that, but he also had the wisdom to have the newsletters professionally bound to help preserve them. The collection seems to be near complete, ranging from 1922 to 1985 and including over 900 different editions containing more than 7,200 pages.
For genealogists, researchers, and historians, these newsletters are a true treasure trove of personal information. The newsletters are chockful of employee names and occupations, plus dates of employment, anniversaries, retirements, and passings. And, of course, the newsletters are filled with ample photos of the employees. With the Hawthorne Works being such a large and iconic employer for decades, we know that many of you will find these to be important documents in researching your Chicago family genealogy and history.
To make the content of these newsletters useful and useable to a broad audience, the Chicago Genealogical Society (CGS) will be undertaking an important project to scan every page of the more than 7,200 pages in the collection. The digital images will later be made available to members of CGS via the Members Only section of the CGS website. It is also important to note the scanned newsletters will be created with OCR applied to enable text search.
As CGS does not provide archival and caretaking of original documents, once the scanning project has been completed, the entire collection will be gifted to the Chicago History Museum for long-term archival and stewardship. The original newsletters will thereby be available to individuals, families, and researchers for generations to come. And if you do not need access to the originals, or if you live outside of the Chicago area, the digital collection will be available online via the CGS website for members.
The cost to scan this amazing Chicago collection is $4,300. Our Society is kicking off a fundraising campaign for this project. CGS is extremely grateful to have recently received an offer to match gifts made through September 30th, up to $2,300.
Help us reach our goal and double the impact of your gift. Donate today at www.chicagogenalogy.org.
Note – any donation amounts over $4300 will be applied to the next CGS scanning project.
CGS Announces September Webinar
The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women
Our speaker will be Jeanne Larzalere Bloom
September 12, 2020 at 1:30pm CDT
Like using negative space in art, the successful identification of women is often accomplished by using the records of friends and family. A case study demonstrates how to successful use this technique.
Jeanne Larzalere Bloom is a full-time professional researcher specializing in Chicago and Cook County research, forensic genealogy, problem-solving, and multi-generational family histories. On behalf of the Department of the Army, Jeanne searches for and identifies family members of unaccounted for servicemen from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Jeanne writes articles for scholarly journals and society publications. She is a frequent lecturer at conferences, workshops, and institutes.
Registration is required via the Chicago Genealogical Society website under Events. The webinar will take place virtually via ZOOM. All people registered will receive an email one day prior to the event with log-in instructions and a link. This information is not to be shared.
The Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve and share the story of the diverse community of Chicago’s far north side. The Society is located at 7363 N. Greenview Ave., Chicago.
The Society’s website provides a history of this Chicago neighborhood “The World in One Neighborhood” https://rpwrhs.org/a-short-history-of-rogers-park-and-west-ridge/
For genealogy research, their website provides the following information about their collection:
Photographs – 9,000 images digitized and cataloged. The collection includes class photos from elementary and high schools, neighborhood prominent residents, daily life scenes and special events.
Papers – The collection includes important papers and historical records of prominent individuals, families and businesses in the neighborhood.
Books - Limited selection of business and telephone directories. Some school yearbooks.
Note – The Society is in the process of transferring stewardship of some of the material to the Northside History Collection held at the Sulzer Reginal branch of the Chicago Public Library. Another great location to check for genealogy research.
The Society also provides a Property History Research Service for properties located in Rogers Park and West Ridge.
Call or check their website before your visit to confirm they are open. They currently have limited hours. https://rpwrhs.org/
On Friday, July 24, dozens of people will gather along the Chicago Riverwalk on the west side of Clark Street. Descendants of survivors, victims, and heroes will be present to share their families’ stories.
The commemoration ceremony of the 105th anniversary of the Eastland Disaster will be hosted by the Eastland Disaster Historical Society (EDHS), now a part of the Chicago Genealogical Society (CGS). The public ceremony will take place at 12 noon along the Riverwalk between Clark and LaSalle Streets, which is the exact site of the tragedy. The ceremony will conclude with white rose petals being laid into the Chicago River by those who have gathered.
We ask you to follow the current Chicago Department of Public Health guidelines regarding COVID-19 if you attend this outdoor event. If you are not able to personally attend, the event will be streamed Live through Facebook, at both the EDHS and CGS Facebook pages.
105 years ago on July 24, 1915, the S.S. Eastland – a ship known for its speed yet also its instability – was docked and ready to embark on its chartered excursion. However, the Eastland never departed as it capsized, killing 844 people in the process. With more passenger fatalities than the Titanic, the capsizing of the Eastland was unprecedented in maritime annals: Had such a possibility been suggested by anyone prior to its occurrence, it would have been dismissed as an impossibility. Here was a great steel vessel built to stand rough weather on the Great Lakes that simply rolled over onto its side in the tranquil waters of the Chicago River while still partially tied to the wharf. While the odds of such an unprecedented occurrence were staggering, the haunting question that will never be sufficiently answered is whether the tragedy could have been prevented.
The Chicago Genealogical Society announces a special Birth/Marriage/Death records project for members only. Let us help you obtain locked Cook County, Illinois, Birth/Marriage/Death record images from familysearch.org. You will need to locate the record on familysearch.org and provide name, date, GS film number, digital folder number, image number, reference id, record number and certificate number. Not all numbers are provided for each record. (Instructions on reverse side of project form). We are NOT doing research. We are retrieving record images only. This is a members only project. Members can request ONE record for FREE. Members can also request up to TWO additional records for $5.00 each. Requests are due by August 31, 2020. Requests will be filled in the order they are received and images will be emailed.
Email the completed project form, type required information directly into an email or send familysearch.org screen shots to email@example.com and pay if required at www.chicagogenealogy.org/donate. Or you can mail the completed project form to CGS, P.O. Box 1160, Chicago, IL 60690-1160, Attn: Birth/Marriage/Death Records Project. If payment is required make check payable to CGS. Deadline is August 31, 2020.
Virtual Meet-Up: “Ask the Expert” About Eastland Disaster Genealogical Records
With Ted Wachholz
**This Meet-Up will be offered at 1:00pm CDT and 7:00pm CDT on 21 July 2020 so make sure you register for the correct time you are interested in**
Early on the morning of Saturday, July 24, 1915, a light rain fell yet the air was filled with anticipation and excitement. Thousands gathered along the Chicago River for Western Electric's fifth annual employee picnic. More than 7,000 tickets had been purchased for the day‐long festivities. But the day quickly turned tragic, resulting in Chicago's greatest loss‐of-life tragedy.
As a by-product of the amazing disaster relief efforts provided in 1915 by the American Red Cross and the Western Electric Company, we are blessed today with having a unique collection of historical records that provide insight into families in Chicago at the turn of the century. The collection includes and honors the people who lost their lives, survivors, crew, U.S. Coast Guard, policemen, firemen, divers, funeral directors, and others.
These records, assembled over twenty years, are now becoming available via a joint effort with the Chicago Genealogical Society (CGS) and the Newberry Library. The “Ask the Expert” host, Ted Wachholz, will use select examples of the records to reveal what type of information will soon be available to researchers, genealogists, and historians. It is important to note that this collection is truly 1-of-a-kind, and will be available only via the Chicago Genealogical Society (Members Only section of the website) or the Newberry Library (physical archives).
In addition to exploring the content of the historical documents archived at the Newberry, Ted will provide a sneak preview into two other projects which are joint efforts with CGS and the Newberry. The first is an exciting new collaboration with the Newberry in using the interactive ChicagoAncestors.org as a new way to interact and engage with the Eastland Disaster content. The second is an equally exciting new undertaking with CGS to provide a surname index to the Eastland Disaster content as well as all surname content on file with CGS.
During the course of the meet-up, Ted will also discuss and explore the explanations behind the two most frequently asked questions about the Eastland Disaster. (a) What caused the Eastland Disaster? (b) Why is the history of the tragedy so obscure, even in the greater Chicago area?
About the speaker - Ted Wachholz has spent over twenty years researching the history of the Eastland Disaster. His research was balanced between the history of the tragedy and the families that were involved in the tragedy. In 2005, Ted authored the third book ever written about the Eastland Disaster. Ted’s passion and interest in the Eastland Disaster was sparked by his personal connection to the tragedy: His wife’s grandmother, Borghild “Bobbie” Aanstad, survived the tragedy as a young teenager.
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. He 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 the morning of the event with log-in instructions and a link. This information is not to be shared.
The talk will be recorded and uploaded to the members only section of the CGS website for future viewing.
**This Meet-Up will be offered at 1:00pm CDT and 7:00pm CDT on 21 July so make sure you register for the correct time you are interested in**
Chicago Genealogical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Address: PO Box 1160, Chicago, IL 60690-1160