Chicago Genealogical Society meetings are on the first Saturday of each month. They are free and open to our members and visitors.

All of our programs are at The Newberry Library, at 1:30pm and are free unless noted. Visitors are always welcome and we look forward to seeing you there!

Programs at a Glance 2016 – 2017

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Business Picture Sept 2016 ProgramButcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker: Assembling Your Ancestor’s Business Biography – A presentation by Marsha Peterson-Maass. Think about the percentage of your Chicago ancestors’ lives that were spent working. Does your genealogical research so that percentage justice? And what if they owned and ran their own business? One of the most overlooked genealogical research areas is business and employee records. In this lively presentation, we’ll review sources for these records, take a look at the many ways to easily incorporate business information into your ancestors’ biographies and even enjoy a business rendition of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Marsha got her start in genealogy in high school when she entered a family history project in the State of Illinois History competition and tied for State Champion. Her first formal training in genealogy was at The Newberry Library-Chicago in the beginner’s class that she now teaches (since 2002).  She is author of the Fundamentals of Genealogy® textbook series, blog and social media platforms. And today, along with teaching and lecturing on a wide range of topics, Marsha has a thriving forensic genealogy practice where she uses science and technology to measure portions of the evidence (like verifying adoption research with DNA test results).

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Notable Chicago Disasters – CGS Full Day Genealogy Bus Tour with tour guide Craig Pfannkuche 9:30am – 4:00pmChicago Neighborhoods thru the Eyes of the City’s Great Writers - Annual Chicago Bus Tour led by Craig Pfannkuche, Saturday October 3, 2015

The Chicago Genealogical Society will be sponsoring a bus tour Notable Chicago Disasters That Effected Your Ancestor’s Lives. Chicago has been the home of many notable disasters in its history beginning, of course, with the Ft. Dearborn “Massacre.” Genealogists might question why a genealogical society would sponsor such a ghoulish tour. The answer is relatively simple and can be found in the manuscripts, books and newspapers created in response to those disasters. They are a great genealogy resource!

Disasters make news. After the question of “What happened?” usually comes the question of who it was who were injured and killed. Lists of the dead and injured are compiled and written down or printed. It is those lists which become treasures of information for family historians. As unfortunate as it was for those overwhelmed by events, the method of their passing or of their survival provides family historians with a marvelous opportunity to give life and historical context to our ancestors.

Seats are limited and reservations are required. First come, first reserved. Fee based on member/non-member and optional lunch. Registration is now open. See reservation form to mail in or pay online We will meet at the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago at 9:30am on October 1st.  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

POISONED: Chicago 1907, A Corrupt System, An Accused Killer, And the Crusade to Save Him presented by Steve Shukis, Saturday February 6, 2016POISONED: Chicago 1907, A Corrupt System, An Accused Killer, And the Crusade to Save Him – The book published in 2014 tells the fascinating story of Herman Billik, a mysterious Bohemian fortune teller accused of slowly poisoning an entire family—a couple and their four children—with arsenic. Billik is still remembered after over a century as one of the most heartless serial killers of all time, but a closer look reveals convincing evidence that the Chicago Police force convicted the wrong man. Author Steve Shukis will be joining us to share how he was doing a little research on his family tree in an index of records of the Cook County Coroner when he stumbled on the Vrzal family. An interesting afternoon at the local library in Chicago gradually grew into years of earnest research, trips to courthouses and archives across the state, and eventually a promise to set the record straight on one of the most fascinating series of murders in American history. Learn how an amateur genealogist solve a real life serial killer mystery and become an award winning author.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Frances Willard House Museum and Archives – This will be a special tour for CGS. Built in 1865, this Evanston house was home to Frances Willard (1839-1898). Both author and activist, Frances Willard lived and worked in this house during the years of her presidency of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). For many of those years, the house also served as an informal national headquarters for the WCTU and a boarding house for its workers. The holdings of the Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives document the history and impact of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Materials include letters; documents; images; serial publications; biographical and subject files; and scrapbooks, dating between the 1830s and 1990s, with the bulk of the collection dating between 1870 and 1950. An Archivist will be on hand to give us a tour and explain the collection holdings. Tour will began at 10:00am at 1730 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL. Free for CGS Members/$10 for non-members.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

speed-datingSpeed Dating for GenealogistsBack by popular demand! Come and participate in an exciting and fun program. Bring your “brick wall” research questions and you will have an opportunity to ask an expert. You will only have a limited time for each question. SPEED is the key, so be clear and specific with your questions. Participate and also learn from other members as they get help on their “brick walls”. It will be an interactive and enjoyable program. Our Expert Panel: Jeanne Larzalere BloomCG A full-time professional researcher specializing in Chicago and Cook County research, Julius Machnikowski, Clerk at the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives and specializes in Polish genealogy, Craig Pfannkuche Independent research professional and President of Memory Trail Research, Inc., Matt Rutherford Curator of Genealogy and Local History at the Newberry Library and Karen StanbaryCG a local professional genealogist with expertise in DNA analysis and regular lecturer in Genetic Genealogy topics at the Newberry Library.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

american-sailorNational Museum of the American Sailor

CGS will be co-hosting this program with the Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago (AAGHSC). This will be a special tour and program for both Societies. The National Museum of the American Sailor collects and preserves artifacts and personal archival materials about the United States Navy’s enlisted Sailors from 1775 to the present. The museum’s historical collections reflect the global travels of naval enlisted personnel. Donated personal materials include personal letters, photo albums, and scrapbooks of Sailors and WAVES; the largest public collection of recruit group photographs and yearbooks; uniforms, flags, and personal artifacts; and pamphlets, postcards, and rare printed materials, including the Great Lakes Bulletin, the Navy’s oldest continuously published base newspaper. We will receive a guided tour of the museum exhibits and also a talk on researching naval personnel. Tour will begin at 10:00am at 2531 Sheridan Road, Building 42, Great Lakes, IL. Free for CGS members and non-members. There is plenty of free parking and the museum is a 7 minute walk from the Metra Rail Great Lakes stop on the Union Pacific North line. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017 

harold-henderson-pictureDon’t Be FOOLED By Your Genealogy! CGS welcomes writer and genealogist Harold HendersonCG for a special two presentation day: 

1. Are We There Yet? Name-changing Ancestors, Proof and the Genealogy Police – Follow the Chilcote trail from the 1900 Chicago census to an unmarked grave in a country cemetery – and decide when there’s enough evidence for proof. Seven research lessons will be highlighted along the way that can be applied in more difficult cases.

2. Why We Don’t Write – And How We Can – We need to write in order to: prove our families, preserve our work, and propagate our information. Many genealogists dread this task and postpone it too long. But we can find the time — and learn how to write better and enjoy it more.

These free presentations will be at the Newberry Library at 12:30pm and 1:45pm. Note this is an earlier start time.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Tony BurroughsChicago Genealogical Society’s 50th Anniversary Celebration! – Come join us as we celebrate this milestone in the Society’s history. The Society’s first meeting was on May 20, 1967, at the YMCA on LaSalle Street in Chicago. So what better then to have a celebration to mark this milestone exactly 50 years in May 2017!   

Our speaker for this special event is genealogist, speaker and writer Tony Burroughs. We are excited to have him help celebrate this milestone. We also will have a celebratory cake, highlights of the last 50 years and even a few surprises. This event will take place at the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 North Knox) which offers plenty of free parking and easy access using public transportation. So mark your calendar and join us at 1 pm for this great celebration! Register now!

Saturday, June 3, 2017 

teresa mcmillinReading Between the Lines of the City DirectoryOur speaker will be Teresa Steinkamp McMillinCG. This lecture encourages one to go beyond the obvious use of a city directory-locating an ancestor. The directory provides an opportunity to understand our ancestor’s historical context. Pictures, advertisements, maps of the city and many more items are often included. The audience will be encouraged to understand each directory’s unique qualities. Examples will be used to illustrate various points.

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