Illinois Ancestors: Genealogical workshops aid researchers

Illinois Ancestors: Genealogical workshops aid researchers

Attendance at one or more genealogical seminars or workshops can often provide a necessary boost to one's research.

There are several such events scheduled for the weeks ahead.

They include:

— April 10: Fox Valley Genealogical Society in Naperville.

— April 12: North Suburban Genealogical Society in Northbrook.

— April 15: Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wis.

— April 16: DuPage Genealogical Society in Wheaton.

— April 17: Elgin Genealogical Society in Elgin.

— April 25: Lockport Area Genealogical and Historical Society in Lockport.

— April 26: Rock Island County, Ill., and Scott County, Iowa, Genealogical Societies in Moline.

— May 3: Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Day at Bolingbrook.

— May 3: Chicago Genealogical Society in Chicago.

— May 8: Fox Valley Genealogical Society in Naperville.

— May 15: Elgin Genealogical Society in Elgin.

— May 17: Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Nortern Illinois in Elgin.

— May 17: Lockport Area Genealogical and Historical Society in Lockport.

— May 21: DuPage County Genealogical Society in Wheaton.

Details of these and other such events can be found in the most recent issue of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter, which can be found online at; click on "newsletters" and read the March 2014 issue.

Another advantage of attending a genealogical workshop is that vendors are usually in attendance with helpful references and supplies. What better way to learn of new books and the latest technology.

The ISGS Newsletter mentions that nominations are now being taken for the genealogical society's honors and awards for 2014; they will be presented at the ISGS Fall Conference in O'Fallon on Oct. 25 and 26.

Anyone can nominate a volunteer, student, researcher or organization for commitment and service to genealogy. The deadline for nominations is July 1.

The awards, in addition to the Volkel Medal of Honor, are given for community service, special recognition, a youth project and an individual writer. To learn more about the various categories of honors/awards and/or download the nomination form, visit the ISGS website above, click on "about ISGS," and then click on "ISGS Honors & Awards."

Illinois' genealogical societies

Anyone researching Illinois ancestors can be grateful for the many genealogical societies that exist in Illinois, with the express goal of assisting researchers, as well as preserving local genealogical materials.

The ISGS website provides a list of over 400 such organizations; click on "Illinois Resources" and then "Genealogy, Historical & Lineage Societies in Illinois." This list provides contact information as well as links to many of them.

Tips for doing Mennonite research

One of the Illinois organizations included in the above list is the Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society in Metamora. This organization began collecting materials in 1969, including records from Mennonite and Amish families and congregations.

The group's obituary card file, covering 1864 to 1997, lists over 72,600 names with vital statistics from obituary columns of five Mennonite periodicals. Visit for more information.

The Mennonite Church USA Archives has a helpful website at that lists links to 997 records, "Historical Manuscripts Personal Papers."

The list is not in alphabetical order, but one can easily scroll down and select a link that appears appropriate. For example, the Christian Yoder family tree, 1849, "provides dates of birth and death, when applicable, for the wives and descendants of Christian Yoder (1790-1846)."

There is also an interesting item in the Nold and Yoder family collection, 1775-1935: a copy of a petition to President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 that "pleads for Mennonite exemption from military service in the American Civil War."

Information on every record includes the name of the depository having the item, along with contact information (address, phone number and email address.)

There are two locations of Mennonite Church USA Archives; one is in Goshen, Ind., and the other in North Newton, Kan. Each has specific holdings.

Queries and 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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