Illinois Ancestors: Not much is known about Putin ancestry

Illinois Ancestors: Not much is known about Putin ancestry

A recent article in Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (March 20) mentions that very little information is known about Russian President Vladimir Putin's family history.

An article recently published in the business and finance section of Russia's leading newspaper (why there?) reports that his family tree has not been traced earlier than Putin's grandfather, Spiridon Putin, "but that he bears a striking resemblance to the Tyver prince, Mikhall Tverskoy."

The article can be read on the Internet at It is also suggested that the name Putin "is of artificial origin."

RootsTech videos available

RootsTech, considered by many to have been the largest family history conference in North America, and held this past February in Salt Lake City, Utah, provided a wealth of genealogical knowledge in more than 200 classes.

Nineteen of those presentations are now available online free, and the videos can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home at

Some of the topics are: "Introduction to DNA for Genealogists"; "FamilySearch Family Tree: What's New and What's Next"; "Do It Yourself Photo Restoration"; "How to Interview Yourself for a Personal History"; and "Tweets, Links, Pins and Posts: Break Down Genealogical Brick Walls with Social Media." Most sessions last about an hour, and can be accessed by clicking on the title at this website.

More information on that event can be learned by doing a search for "rootstech 2014."

Forgotten ashes

Funeral home director Michael Neal of Washington, Pa., has created a website, Forgotten Ashes (, where "any funeral home ... can register ... forgotten ashes" free.

Apparently Neal is not aware that Megan Smolenyak has had a similar project for some time, as reported in her HonoringOurAncestors Newsletter at

Funeral homes across the country have cremains (cremated remains) and no record of related family members that can be contacted. After the first four years, more than 300 cases of "unclaimed persons" had been solved, but the problem still exists.

Any individual or group that can assist in such a project is to be commended and supported. It's a national problem and needs to be addressed.

Illinois death records

The Illinois State Archives has an ongoing project of compiling the Illinois Statewide Death Index Pre-1916, and more than 1 million records from 45 counties are already in the database. Similarly, the archives has a database, Illinois Death Certificates 1916-1950, from records of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

These indexes can be searched (free) on the Illinois website —; click on "departments," then click "Illinois State Archives," then click "Databases," and then "Illinois Statewide Death Index Pre-1916" or "Illinois Statewide Death Index 1916-1950."

Keep in mind that the person who died before 1916 may not be in the pre-1916 index since this is an ongoing project. However, it could be that the records being sought are in the Illinois Regional Archives Depository system.

To check the IRAD holdings, visit the Illinois website, then click on "departments," then click "Illinois State Archives," then click "Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) System," then click "Local Governmental Records Listings" for a link to a 360-page alphabetical listing by county, office, and title. A click on "Research Policy" will provide information for making mail requests.

For researchers unable to visit the Illinois State Archives, the Illinois State Genealogical Society has created a service to assist researchers obtain noncertified death certificate copies (for years 1916-1950) from the Illinois State Archives.

Visit the ISGS website at, click on "projects" and then click "death certificates." The cost is $10 or $6 for ISGS members. The copies may be ordered by mail or online.

The information on the death certificates includes county, city and address where the death took place; certificate number; the deceased's full name, age, sex, marital status, birthdate, date of death, occupation, employer, birthplace, father's name and birthplace and mother's maiden name and birthplace; name of the informant providing the above information; and the filing date.

The IRAD booklet mentioned above includes helpful research information in the first few pages, including Family Research Tips, a map showing the coverage of IRAD depositories around the state, and county courthouse addresses. To access this booklet directly, go to

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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