This week I had a chance to read a new book: Finding Your Chicago Ancestors - A Beginner's Guide to Family History in the City and Cook County by Grace DuMelle. As one might guess from that lengthy title, this is the reference handbook for anyone researching ancestry in and around Chicago.
This book is significantly different from many of the books I have reviewed over the years. Most books that are billed as a guide to genealogy research in a particular location are simply lists of where records may be located. Indeed, Finding Your Chicago Ancestors does have many such lists; but, this book also contains hundreds of suggestions, finer points, and other tips of use that go far beyond simple lists. For instance, the book tells what happened in 1922 that changed the records available for females. As such, this book serves both as a list of references and as a “how to” genealogy coach.
The repositories described in Finding Your Chicago Ancestors include:
Chicago Historical Society (CHS)
Chicago Public Library
Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives
Cook County Bureau of Vital Statistics
Family History Center (FHC)-Wilmette, Illinois
Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD)
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)-Great Lakes Region
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Richard J. Daley Library
Here is the Table of Contents of the book:
Where Do I Start?
When (and Where) Was My Ancestor Born?
Who Were the Parents of My Ancestor?
Who Were the Siblings of My Ancestor?
When (and Who) Did My Ancestor Marry?
Where Did My Ancestor Live?
What Occupation Did My Ancestor Have?
When Did My Ancestor Die and Where is my Ancestor Buried?
When Did My Ancestor Come to America?
Nuts and Bolts of the U.S. Census
Nuts and Bolts of Newspaper Searching
Nuts and Bolts of Birth and Death Records
How to Use Machines and Catalogs
What to Expect at Chicago-Area Research Facilities
Top Web Sites for Chicago-Area Research
Author Grace DuMelle is well qualified to write a book on Chicago genealogy research. She is the founder of Heartland Historical Research Service (HHRS), a company that specializes in researching house histories. 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. At the beginning of 2001, Grace entered into an association with the Newberry Library in their Local & Family History section. She guides patrons through the many resources there and frequently lectures on the Newberry's genealogical holdings.
Finding Your Chicago Ancestors - A Beginner's Guide to Family History in the City and Cook County is an excellent resource for anyone researching in the area. The book sells for $16.95 plus postage and taxes. This 329-page paperback is available directly from publisher Lake Claremont Press or from almost any bookstore if you specify ISBN: 1-893121-25-9. You can also find it on Amazon.com.