Finding Your Chicago Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide to Family History in the City and Cook County

Front Cover
Lake Claremont Press, 2005 - History - 321 pages
0 Reviews
In this easy-to-use reference guide, family historian Grace DuMelle provides the means to trace Chicago connections like a pro. She shows not just what to research, but how to research. Without wading through preliminaries, readers choose any of the self-contained chapters that focus on the questions beginners most want answered. Other chapters cover the nuts and bolts of the mechanics that are the key to making a family's past come alive, with highlights summarizing important points. In finding Chicago ancestors, readers will better understand not only their family's history, but also their involvement in the history of a great American city.

Midwest Independent Publishers Association Book Award - 1st Place - Hobby/How- To
Illinois Woman's Press Association Book Award - 1st Place - Instructional Nonfiction
National Federation of Press Women Book Award - 3rd Place - Instructional Nonfiction

The Chicago Roots of Your Family Tree

For almost 175 years, a great metropolis on the shores of a freshwater sea has sent a siren call to immigrants internal and external, giving most Americans some kind of link to the City of Big Shoulders. Whether your people came west from New England in the early days of settlement, or north from Mississippi in the Great Migration; whether they sailed from Sweden and Sicily, or flew from Budapest and Prague; whether they settled here permanently or temporarily, this easy-to-use reference guide will help you document them.

Family historian Grace DuMelle provides the means to trace your Chicago connections like a pro. She shows you not just what to research, but how to research. Without wading through lots of preliminaries, choose any of the self-contained chapters that focus on the questions beginners most want answered and jump right in!

Where do I start?
When and where was my ancestor born?
When did my ancestor come to America?
What did my ancestor do for a living?
Where did my ancestor live?
Where is my ancestor buried?

Other chapters cover the nuts and bolts of the mechanics that are the key to making your family's past come alive, with highlights summarizing important points:

Examples of documents such as death certificates, church registers and U.S. census entries.
Chicago-area research facilities: what they have and how to access it.
Researching using newspapers, machines and catalogs.
Sources for specific ethnic research.
Sources for long-distance research.

In finding your Chicago ancestors, you will not only better understand your and your family's history, but also your and your family's involvement in the history of a great American city.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

When and Where Was My Ancestor Born?
19
Who Were the Parents of My Ancestor?
34
Who Were the Siblings of My Ancestor?
55
When and Who Did My Ancestor Marry?
68
Where Did My Ancestor Live?
84
What Occupation Did My Ancestor Have?
101
When Did My Ancestor Die
124
When Did My Ancestor Come to America?
141
Nuts and Bolts of Newspaper Searching
202
Nuts and Bolts of Birth and Death Records
213
How to Use Machines and Catalogs
231
What to Expect at ChicagoArea
250
Top Web Sites for ChicagoArea Research
286
Ethnic Resources
300
Beginners Bookshelf
312
About the Author
323

Practical Advice
175

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

Grace DuMelle is a family historian at the Newberry Library and the owner of Heartland Historical Research, which offers house histories, oral histories, and aspects of family history such as obituaries and church records. She and her company have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and Chicago magazine and on WGN radio. Her clients include the United States Department of Justice, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, and the Niagara Falls Museum in Ontario, Canada.

Fascination with true stories from the past began early for Grace DuMelle. As a child, she heard tales of family connections to the Eastland disaster and the assassination of President McKinley. Several years in Washington, D.C. brought her face to face with pivotal places in the Colonial and Civil War eras.

At what is now Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, Grace studied Chicago architecture under Frances Steiner, author of The Steiner Index to Oak Park building references. She also did extensive primary research in England for an independent study project on Charles Dickens. After graduation Grace became an advertising copywriter, using her writing and investigation skills.

While renovating her husband Walter Podrazika’s family home, Grace hired a specialist to analyze title papers Walter inherited from his grandfather. The conclusion was that the home dated back to the time of the Chicago Fire. This was verified a few years later by the discovery of an 1872 newspaper in the living room wall.

Knowing that other homeowners and institutions would be interested in learning of their past, Grace launched Heartland Historical Research Service (HHRS) in 1995. Working on house histories, she used techniques her father had passed along for finding out about former owners. As her genealogy knowledge grew, she began accepting family history projects, including oral histories—documenting the stories told by senior citizens before that knowledge is lost.

Heartland's projects have taken Grace to libraries and government offices across the Chicagoland area to find answers for clients. Some of Heartland's more notable cases involved finding the original plans for a home in Brookfield, Illinois, in a 1924 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and confirming the characteristics of Mary Todd Lincoln's Chicago neighborhood. HHRS has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Southtown and on WGN radio. Past clients include the United States Department of Justice, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, the Niagara Falls Museum in Ontario, Canada, and Graystone Communications in North Hollywood, California (parent company of The History Channel).

At the beginning of 2001, Grace entered into an association with the Newberry Library, one of the country's foremost humanities libraries, in their Local & Family History section. She guides patrons through the many resources there and frequently lectures on the Newberry's genealogical holdings.

Traveling and exploring are Grace's favorite pastimes. She relaxes with P.G. Wodehouse stories and nature walks.

Bibliographic information