Presentations

A variety of presentations are available both in-person and as webinars. These can be customized to fit your group's needs. Click here to request more information. Check out a preview on our YouTube channel.


Adding Context: Social History for Genealogists
Learn how to add depth and greater human interest to your family stories by including the social settings in which your ancestors lived. We will discuss the value of adding social context to family stories, review samples of narratives where context is provided, and look at some published social histories to determine where and how to find materials of interest to genealogists.


At Your Fingertips: Finding & Using Digital Books
Digital books are everywhere – there are millions of them! This presentation will demonstrate techniques for finding and searching digital book collections for material relevant to your research.


Cobbler, Tailor, Trunkmaker: How My Grandpappies Made a Living
Doing family history is more than collecting names and dates. Most of us want to "get to know" our ancestors as much as possible and to understand their lives. How we make a living is an important part of who we are and why we do things.

Through the use of case studies, this talk will explain methods for discovering more details about our ancestors’ occupations. Even if we can't find specifics such as employment records, there are other ways to gain a better picture of how our ancestors lived and worked.


Finding Your Catholic Ancestors
From birth to burial, church records can provide a wealth of valuable details about our ancestors. This presentation will discuss the types of records available and the information they might contain. It will also provide suggestions for determining which church your ancestors may have attended and locating these critical historical documents.


It’s Not All Online: Chicago Repositories and What They Have
Good genealogical research means we must do “reasonably exhaustive” searches for information about our ancestors, going beyond the data we find online. In this session, we will discuss the importance of using non-digitized materials, learn about the holdings of various Chicago-area repositories, and get acquainted ArchiveGrid and Explore Chicago Collections, two online resources that will aid in finding records relevant to one’s research.




Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: the Search for Marriage Records
You've looked through civil records and you've looked through church records. What else should you do if you simply can't find your ancestor's marriage records? In the United States, the requirements for a valid marriage have changed over time and varied from state to state.

Today couples in a hurry might rush off to Las Vegas. During the late 1800's and early 1900's, numerous towns across the nation were known as "marriage mills" or "Gretna Greens". Learn about some of these locations and find out why you might be looking for marriage records in the wrong place.


Mining the National Archives
What’s in the archives that I can’t find online? Why make the trip? This session will explore some of the lesser known holdings of the National Archives — at the Great Lakes Region and in Washington, D.C. Post Office records, Great Lakes Maritime records, passport applications and much more. Come learn about the ways you can find and access these genealogical gold mines.


Researching Pre-fire Chicago
Think there's no way to research Chicago before 1871? Think the Fire burned your chances for discovering what Chicago was like in its early days? All is not (and was not) lost. This presentation will introduce you to a gold mine of pre-Fire treasures in the Newberry Library's collections. Maps, diaries, church records, newspapers, and sheet music are just a few of the hot items you'll find out about. This talk is an abbreviated version of a seminar presented at the Newberry Library by Matt Rutherford and Ginger Frere.


Stayin' Local: Using Town and City Records in Your Research
Genealogists often use records from the federal government, such as census and military records. We also use county records, such as property, court or vital records. But too many times we overlook unique local government records - and miss the golden nuggets they contain. Join us as we take a look at some of these genealogical treasure troves.


Telling the Story with Maps: Maps of Early Illinois and Where to Find Them
Maps can convey immense detail, providing the names of places, distances, topography, geographical features, migration routes, land ownership, boundaries, political jurisdictions and more. Maps are often the best tools to answer questions such as – How did our ancestors get from one place to another? Where might they have gotten married? Where did our ancestors live in relation to the Great Chicago Fire?

This presentation will show off a wide variety of maps that can be used to tell the story of Illinois and will provide suggestions for finding maps to tell your family story.


Where Did Grandpa Go? Using Maps to Solve Genealogical Problems.
Using case studies, Ginger Frere will demonstrate ways in which a wide variety of maps can be used to solve genealogical mysteries. Learn how to break down brick walls caused by boundary changes, look at migration paths, and find the exact location of where your ancestors lived.


Using Timelines to Break Down Brick Walls
Learn how to use timelines, simple and complex, to solve genealogical problems, analyze evidence, and determine avenues for further research.