Chicago Genealogical Society


  • 13 Dec 2019 4:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You have all likely seen some mention of an outrageous proposed fee increase by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).  Essentially what they are proposing for fees are:  raising the search fee 269% from $65 to $240 and the cost of the actual file 481% from $65 to $385.

    If you had relatives who immigrated to the United States in the 20th century, USCIS is the place to order the above records.

    USCIS has provided an opportunity for the genealogical community to comment on this proposed Rule that dramatically impacts the USCIS Genealogy Records Program.  In coordination with the leadership of other organizations in our community, we want to encourage our members to make their voices heard and express your concern with this outrageous proposal.

    Chicago Genealogical Society is recommending everyone to send a letter outlining some of the objections. Your help is needed!  

     If you would like to read the proposed rule, see:

    The Genealogy section is Section N which starts on page 62315-62316.

    See Section 103.40 for Genealogical Research Requests on page 62359.

    The Washington Post had an article on the proposed fee increases last Thursday which may be read at: . 

    Additional background may also be found at

    We strongly urge you to get behind this process and let USCIS and your local representatives know that you object to this unsupportable, exorbitant charge for access to value genealogical documentation.  You can contact your Senators or Representatives via and, respectively.

  • 4 Dec 2019 2:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Join us on December 7th for our next program:

    Mayflower and other Lineage Societies: What are they? Why would I join one? How do I join?

    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"

    All Programs are at the Newberry Library at 1:30pm and free unless noted

  • 2 Dec 2019 11:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    News From the Library of Congress:

    Now available online at the Library of Congress website FREE a collection of Chicago Telephone Books. Why are these so important for your ancestor research? Because they include years beyond the available City Directory years! 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s.

    The direct link to the Chicago Collection:

  • 14 Nov 2019 10:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Looking for information on Union Ridge Cemetery? The history of the cemetery? Do you have an ancestor buried in the cemetery?

    Union Ridge Cemetery is located on the north side of Chicago at 6700 West Higgins Road, in Norwood Park Township. In 1838, the farmers living in this small community recognized the need for a cemetery and Henry Smith donated a small corner of his land for that purpose. Initially the cemetery did not have a name, it was just “the Cemetery” and on the 19th century maps its location was known as “Smith’s Ridge.” Section “O” is the original cemetery. Following the Civil War and the interment of about 67 veterans, the cemetery came to be known as Union Ridge Cemetery.[1]    

    In 1991 and 1992, a group of Chicago Genealogical Society members volunteered to do a full cemetery reading of the Union Ridge Cemetery. The primary reason for doing the reading was because the cemetery association had no records prior to 1890.  A rechecking of the stones was done in the summer of 1994. A book was compiled to preserve this data and published in 1995. Some of the contents of this book include:

    -          Early History of Norwood Park

    -          Maps

    -          History of Union Ridge

    -          1941 Map of Union Ridge area

    -          The Reading

    -          Some Early Settlers in Cook County

    -          Civil War Burials in Union Ridge

    FindAGrave website currently reports the cemetery has been 72% photographed. Maybe you are lucky your ancestor has been photographed.  But can you read the gravestone? This cemetery reading was done 25 years ago. That is 25 Chicago winters the gravestones have weathered since the reading. It is worth checking out the discoveries from years ago. If you ancestor’s gravestone has not been photographed, you could discover the gravestone’s section and information appearing on it. Keep in mind the reading recorded only existing stones and what could be read at the time.

    Where can you find the Chicago Genealogical Society Union Ridge Cemetery Book? On CGS’s website in the members only section. Thank you CGS volunteers for completing this project 25+ years ago.  

    Happy researching!


    1 Chicago Genealogical Society, Union Ridge Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois (Chicago : Chicago Genealogical Society, 1995), p. vii.

  • 29 Oct 2019 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 1:30pm Newberry Library

    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.


  • 23 Oct 2019 10:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Does it seem like your Chicago ancestor’s ward changed often? Did your ancestor move or did the boundaries move? The wards were originally set up as six wards in 1837. By 1921, Chicago was divided up into 50 wards. Between 1851-1931, boundaries were changed as well as wards added ten different times.  

    The following book details the history and boundaries for each ward:

    Centennial list of mayors, city clerks, city attorneys, city treasurers, and aldermen : elected by the people of the City of Chicago, from the incorporation of the City on March 4, 1837 to March 4, 1937, arranged in alphabetical order, showing the years during which each official held office / compiled in commemoration of the centennial of the incorporation of Chicago as a city on March 4, 1937, under the direction of Frederick Rex, Librarian, Municipal Reference Library, City of Chicago.

    A transcription of this book is available online courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

    Per the title of the book, it also includes a list of mayors, city clerks, city attorneys, city treasurers, and aldermen that were elected from March 4, 1837 to March 4, 1937. At the end, there is an added list of aldermen, city treasurers and city clerks for 1933 to April 1979. Maybe you will be lucky enough to have an ancestor who served in public office for Chicago.

    Happy researching!

  • 3 Oct 2019 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hope to see you this Saturday, October 5th at 1:30pm, Newberry Library, for our next program - Stories in Stone: Decoding the Sentiment behind Cemetery Symbolism

    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

  • 24 Sep 2019 1:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Latest Chicago Genealogist is Here!

    See the online 2019 Fall Edition, Vol. 52, No. 1

    To access the electronic version, go to the Chicago Genealogical Society’s website at  Sign into the website and select Members Only Section button on the upper right side. Select The Chicago Genealogist tab. Look for the newest version “Vol 52, No 1 2019” on the top row. Click on it and then you can read & enjoy the newest issue.

    Direct link for members:

    Requested paper copies will be mailed once the printing is finished.

  • 16 Sep 2019 8:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Illinois State Archives Collection Chicago City Council Proceedings Files, 1833-1871 is located at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

    Per the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) website:

    “ The Proceedings contain all business of the Chicago City Council including, petitions, resolutions, ordinances, remonstrances, acts and orders of the city council; communications with the city council; reports of committees and officers; reports of teachers; physicians' reports on deaths from smallpox and cholera; accounts of treasurers and other city officers; claims against the city; election returns and poll lists; lists of licenses issued; bonds and oaths of officials; commissions, appointments and resignations of officials; tax assessment rolls; and calls for special meetings.”

    The website offers a searchable index of the Chicago City Council Proceedings Files at

    This is a treasure trove of information that could possibly help with your pre-fire research.   

    So, what does the documents in these files look like? What kind of information are included? Fifty examples along with transcriptions have been put online for everyone to view. These documents were originally complied into a teaching packet for Illinois teachers. It is a bonus for us genealogists and family historians to view them.

    Examples include:

    Physician’s Cholera Report

    Petition for the Appointment of a German Constable

    Petition of Fireman for an Engine House

    All fifty documents and transcriptions can be found on the Cyber Drive Illinois website

    Hopefully, these examples will inspire you to take a look at the Chicago City Council Proceedings Files for your pre-fire research. Happy researching!

  • 25 Aug 2019 10:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our next program will be at the Newberry Library, September 7 at 1:30pm.

    Tracking Down Your Infamous Ancestors

    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. 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. This free program will be at the Newberry Library at 1:30pm.

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

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