Chicago Genealogical Society


  • 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.

  • 20 Aug 2019 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CGS has reopened registration for ONE DAY ONLY, Tuesday, August 20th, for the remaining 3 seats for the Chicago’s Greatest Waterway - The I & M Canal Bus Tour on August 24, 2019.

    Using a luxury bus, the Chicago Genealogical Society will be hosting a genealogically oriented tour of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, August 24, 9:30am – 4:00pm (starting from and ending at the Ogilvie Transportation Center), which will included such stops as the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, the St. James of the Sag Cemetery, Lockport, Locks at Channahon, and the Seneca Grain Elevator. 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. Register online at

    Note - Online payment only today and no refund.

  • 14 Aug 2019 10:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Eastland Disaster Historical Society announces gift of

    invaluable archival collection to Newberry Library, other iconic organizations

    The Eastland Disaster Historical Society (EDHS), now in its 21st year of honoring those affected by Chicago’s deadliest disaster, announces that it will transition from a family-run, not-for-profit organization to a key asset within several iconic Chicago area institutions including the Newberry Library, Chicago Genealogical Society, and the Chicago Maritime Museum.

    Agreements with these institutions will ensure ongoing archival access to the comprehensive collection of EDHS family records, historical documents, and artifacts. Together, these materials tell a vivid story about the Eastland Disaster, the 844 people who tragically died in the event, and the impact it had on their families and the city of Chicago at large.

    The invaluable collection of materials related to the Eastland Disaster is a one-of-a-kind collection, having been compiled over the course of more than two decades by EDHS research efforts. It includes information that historically has never been available to the public: family histories and photos provided by thousands of generous families across the country;  plus unknown, forgotten, or inaccessible historical documents from various entities including the  Cook County Coroner’s Office, the Red Cross, and the Western Electric Company. Six other museums throughout the Great Lakes region will also receive important pieces from the collection.

    “We are thrilled about this fantastic collection of historical records coming to the Newberry,” declared Matthew Rutherford, Curator of Genealogy and Local History at the Newberry Library. “We are well-situated to provide access, assist researchers as they use the collection, and make it visible to audiences across Chicago and the rest of the country. The records in the Eastland Disaster collection are vital to family and local history, and to the national record as well.”

    “The Eastland Disaster was Chicago’s greatest loss-of-life tragedy, taking the lives of 844 people. The iconic institutions with whom we are working are committed to protecting and honoring the work that EDHS started 21 years ago, ensuring that the stories of Chicago’s greatest tragedy will always be preserved and shared for generations in the future,” explains Ted Wachholz, EDHS Executive Director and Chief Historian.

    Agreements have been reached for the gifts of the EDHS collection. The accompanying transition of EDHS becoming a key asset within these organizations will begin this month.

    Chicago’s Greatest Loss-of-Life Tragedy

    The S.S. Eastland, known as the "Speed Queen of the Great Lakes," was part of a fleet of five excursion boats assigned to take Western Electric employees, families, and friends across Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana, for a day of fun and fellowship. But the festivities were short-lived and quickly turned tragic.

    On July 24, 1915, the Eastland, docked at the Clark Street Bridge, never left the Chicago River. Tragedy struck as the ship rolled into the river at the wharf's edge. More than 2,500 passengers and crew members were on board that day; 844 people lost their lives, including 22 entire families, far surpassing the lives lost in the Chicago fire of 1871. This year commemorates the 104th anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Eastland.

    About EDHS

    The Eastland Disaster Historical Society (EDHS) is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization co-founded by Susan Decker and Barbara Decker Wachholz, the granddaughters (and only grandchildren) of brave Eastland Disaster survivor Borghild Amelia Aanstad. The Eastland Disaster Historical Society was founded to preserve and share the names, faces, and stories of thousands of ordinary people who were affected by the tragedy, connecting people today to the history of the tragedy and its victims, survivors, and heroes. More information can be found at

  • 4 Aug 2019 3:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you are not having any luck finding your Chicago Ancestor’s obituary, try the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Obituary Index. This index includes many newspapers around the state but also includes the Chicago Daily News which has not been digitized and many suburbs of Chicago (Aurora, Joliet, Elmhurst, Evanston, Harvard, Oak Park, St. Charles) to name a few.

    This is NOT a complete index. Per Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum website: The Obituary Index was created from the work of researchers who have researched at their library using the Newspaper Collection. When a researcher found an obituary, they would fill out an obituary form so the staff could print off the obituary. These obituary forms were collected and developed into this obituary index.

    Chicago example – You are searching for an obituary for Kathryn Noesen who possibly died in Chicago. No obituary was found searching the Chicago Tribune online. A search of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Obituary Index found an entry “Noesen, Kathryn, Obit Source - Chicago Daily News, Jan. 19, 1916, p. 21, c. 3.” Now you know there is an obituary. You can locate the obituary yourself or you can submit a request for a copy to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

    The obituary index and details on how to order an obituary can be found on their website

    Again, this is not a complete index of all the obituaries from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Newspaper Collection but it sure is worth checking. Happy researching!

  • 16 Jul 2019 3:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    So you learned the Chicago Catholic Church Records from 1833 – 1925 are online at Family Search Some of the collection has been indexed but many records are still only viewed by browsing the collection. There are over 295,000 images available. The records are listed by parish.

    These are great sources but what if you don’t know which parish your ancestors attended.  The Archdiocese of Chicago website under genealogy resources  provides a copy in pdf format of the book by Jack Bochar Locations of Chicago Roman Catholic Churches, 1850-1900. The book has detailed maps of parish locations in Chicago by date. To use this book, locate your ancestors first using city directories and then plot their address(es) on the map based on the time period. (Reminder - Chicago street numbering changes were in 1909 and 1911 and street name changes occured). It is recommended to trace their location over a period of time recording each address in case they moved around a lot. You will be able to see which parishes were in the neighborhood.  Then you can browse those parish records. If you don’t have luck with the closest parish, then expand your area and look at the next several parishes. Happy researching!

  • 1 Jul 2019 11:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CGS Members - The Latest Chicago Genealogist is Here!

    See the online 2019 Summer Edition, Vol. 51, No. 4

    To access the electronic version, go to the Chicago Genealogical Society’s new website at  Sign into the website and select Members Only Section button on the upper right side. Select The Chicago Genealogist tab. Scroll down to the newest version “Vol 51, No 4 2019.” 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.

  • 24 Jun 2019 7:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Special Screening

    Sunday, July 14, 2019

    1-2:30 p.m. 

    York Theatre in Elmhurst, IL

    Eastland: Chicago's Deadliest Day Documentary is the dramatic story of how hundreds of immigrant factory workers and their families, setting out for leisurely summer cruise, died aboard a heavily loaded steamship that tipped over while still tied to the dock in downtown Chicago... and how the rich and powerful who were responsible got away with it.

    The Eastland Disaster Historical Society is graciously offering CGS Members an opportunity to attend this Special Screening by registering for FREE tickets before they are available to the general public. This will be your opportunity to see "Eastland" on the big screen in surround sound! Seating is very limited, with tickets available only to current CGS using the following link: then click on “Ticket information here.”

    Note – you do NOT have to obtain a membership to EDHS. The link will let you register for FREE.

    The tickets are available to the general public starting this Friday, June 28th, so reserve your tickets today!

    Thank you to the EDHS for this opportunity. Another great value and benefits for CGS membership!




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

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