Chicago Genealogical Society


  • 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.

  • 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

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

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