Presentations

A variety of presentations are available and may be customized to fit your group's needs. Click here to request more information. * Denotes presentation new for 2016!


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.


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: Using Church Records in the Archdiocese of Chicago
Church records can provide many valuable details about our ancestors. This presentation covers the types of records available, the information they contain, and the way you can access the records.


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.


New Tools for Finding Old Stuff
Technology is changing the face of genealogy. Come take a look at some new online tools and techniques for finding our elusive ancestors. New search engines, smartphone apps, software “to-go”, current maps overlain by historic maps, online classes, digital libraries, wikis and more! Learn how these tools can enhance your genealogical bag of tricks.


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.


Sound Research Practices: Sources and Citations
If you’re a beginning genealogist or have ever scratched your head trying to identify a document in your old research files, this session is for you. Learn the basics of evaluating a document and the information it contains. Find out how to cite sources appropriately. Resources to guide you in becoming a better genealogist will also be discussed.


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.


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.


Winding Your Way Through the Web: Popular Sites for Genealogists
The internet can be an overwhelming place for beginning genealogists. Which websites are reliable? Which will help you discover when great-grandpa was born or how he came to the United States? This session will introduce novice genealogists to several websites that will launch their cyberspace searches in the right direction.