Chicago Genealogical Society


  • 29 Mar 2021 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CGS Members – make sure you read the latest issue of the Chicago Genealogist, vol. 53 no 3 Spring 2021

    In this issue:

    • Learn about Jefferson Park Pioneers: The James and Sarah (Teague) McGrane Family
    • Follow A Research Trail - How I Found the Correct John Smith
    • Who says you can’t find a property record before 1871? Adam Glos and Wife to Peter H. Fippinger Abstract of Title 1851 - The Fippinger Property in Bellwood, Cook County, Illinois
    • Are you researching someone in Chicago in 1849 and can’t find out what happened to them? Check out - Chicago Deaths From Cholera - Part 1: 11 June to 23 July 1849
    • Want to learn more about the CGS Ancestor Certificates program? Honoring Your Chicago Ancestors - Program Notes December 2020

  • 9 Feb 2021 4:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Good news! The Chicago History Museum will be reopening March 4, 2021. The Research Center will open March 9th. Before you plan a research trip and catch-up on all your back log, know before you go:

    • A reservation is required for the Research Center. You can make a reservation starting the last week of the month for the following month. They are operating at a reduced capacity for social distancing.
    • In 2021, CHM is renovating the underground storage facility which houses the archives and manuscript collections. Some items will not be available to use for research. It is highly recommended to search the online catalog ARCHIE on the CHM website to see if what you are interested in using is available to use. Contact the Research Center if you have any questions by emailing

    More information on the CHM website Home - Research Center - LibGuides at Chicago History Museum   

  • 11 Jan 2021 9:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Downtown Cook County Vital Records Office at Daley Center 50 W Washington, Suite CL-25 has moved to the Cook County Building at 118 N Clark Street, 1st Floor. More information on their website. Vital Records | Cook County Clerk's Office 

  • 4 Jan 2021 11:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Chicago Genealogical Society is saying goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021. We are excited about our upcoming programs to kick-off 2021. Hope you can join us!

    4 January (7:00pm) - The South Side in Ten Families

    *** Monday, 7:00pm CST via ZOOM ***

    Mark Hansen, the author of The City in a Garden: A Guide to the History of Hyde Park and Kenwood, will recount episodes in the history of Chicago through brief portraits of ten South Side families.

    6 February (1:30pm) - Everyone Has a Story: Why everyday life stories are worth capturing and how to do it

    *** Saturday, 1:30pm CST via ZOOM ***

    Our speaker will be Nora Kerr. Do you want to capture your own life story or that of a loved one? Take a trip down memory lane or get inspired to interview your family members. You'll leave inspired to tackle this important life work. Whether you're a writer, a storyteller, or a curious child or grandchild of someone with a lot of history, this workshop is for you!​ We’ll address questions such as...

    • ​What makes a good story?
    • How do I get started?
    • ​How should I organize them?
    • What tools do I need?

    8 February (7:00pm) – Open Mic Meet-Up: Genealogy Discoveries Made During Lock Down 

    *** Monday, 7:00pm CST via ZOOM ***

    Share a discovery you have made during the Covid-19 Lock Down with your fellow CGS members. Have you discovered a new online resource? Were you able to get a record from a closed repository? Did you learn a new technology that is a game changer for your research? Have you interviewed a relative using ZOOM? Join us to share your discovery or watch and listen to others share their successes. This meet-up will have a host to run the Zoom and to give the opportunity for everyone to share as time permits. If you plan to share a discovery please keep it to 5 minutes or less to allows others to also share. 

    8 March (7:00pm) – Friedrich Eiler: Building an Identity from Scant Clues

    *** Monday, 7:00pm CST via ZOOM ***

    Our speaker will be Jill Morelli, CG. The ability to combine fragments of identity to form a single individual is an important skill for all genealogists. This case study illustrates the techniques used to identify the unknown! Friedrich first appeared in a marriage record for my great grandmother, Ida Berg. It was a surprise to know she had married again, but that wasn't the last of the surprises. Working from the known information, the identity of Friedrich was determined using correlation tools, source analysis and collaboration with a descendant. Not all of our ancestors can be the model citizens and Friedrich was far from it, but he serves as a great vehicle for illustrating tenacity and patience, reasonably exhaustive research and the joys of collaboration.

    **Registration is required for all CGS Events via the Chicago Genealogical Society website under Events. Registration will be closed 1 hour before 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.

  • 2 Nov 2020 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Join us on January 4, 2021, at 7:00pm CST for a webinar with speaker Mark Hansen, the author of The City in a Garden: A Guide to the History of Hyde Park and Kenwood. 

    Mr. Hansen will present The South Side in Ten Families. He will recount episodes in the history of Chicago through brief portraits of ten South Side families.

    John Mark Hansen is the Charles L Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. He joined the Chicago faculty in 1986. A native of Kansas, he received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Kansas in 1981 and his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1987. Hansen’s research in political science ranges in top from elections and citizen activism to Congress and interest group politics. Lately, he has set out to chronicle the history of Chicago’s South Side. His first book from the project, The City in a Garden: A Guide to the History of Hyde Park and Kenwood, appeared in 2019.

    Registration is required via the Chicago Genealogical Society website under Events. The webinar will take place virtually via ZOOM. Registration will be closed 1 hour before event. 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.

    Hope you can join us!

  • 1 Oct 2020 12:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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:

    - Passenger

    - Crew Member, Staff Member

    - Responder – Fireman, Fire Insurance Patrolman, Policeman, U.S. Coast Guard

    - Diver

    - 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, 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.

  • 22 Sep 2020 8:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.

  • 2 Sep 2020 8:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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

    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.

  • 28 Aug 2020 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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. 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. 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  

    Happy Researching!

  • 24 Aug 2020 7:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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     

    Note – any donation amounts over $4300 will be applied to the next CGS scanning project.

Chicago Genealogical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Address: PO Box 1160, Chicago, IL  60690-1160

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