Illinois Ancestors: Virginia library has helpful collections

Illinois Ancestors: Virginia library has helpful collections

The Library of Virginia's collections consist of books, newspapers, government publications, maps, photographs and manuscripts and are available on paper and microfilm. The library's helpful website at is a good place to start.

For example, Guides and Indexes, "include bibliographies and descriptive research notes to our print, newspaper manuscripts, and archival collections.

Links are provided for specific topics such as African American and Native American resources; County and City Research, including Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky; and Military Service.

The Alphabetical listing of all guides, indexes and research databases offers a wealth of further information.

For example, a click on Chancery Cases Research Notes provides a link to a four-page document (in pdf format) telling of the value of chancery documents and what they consist of.

A click on Civil War Resources in the Personal Papers and Military Records Collections at the Library of Virginia takes one to an eight-page document (in pdf format) of information on family papers (even Robert E. Lee), diaries (e.g., Clarke, Goodwin), memoirs and mixed collections.

Anyone with an interest in Virginia research would be wise to bookmark this website.

U.S. railroad records

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) was set up in 1936 so that railroad workers could be covered the same way other employment categories were covered under Social Security. Knowing that an ancestor worked for a railroad requires further information in order to do additional research.

There is a helpful website by James Sponholz at that provides important information and links to other websites as well. It is important to remember that RRB only has records after 1936. Sponholz also mentions the importance of railroad employee magazines as well as accident reports.

DuPage County website

The DuPage County Genealogical Society, with an interesting website at, is celebrating a 40th anniversary this year. Founded in 1974 as the Lombard Suburban Genealogical Society, the society moved its reference collection to the Wheaton Public Library in 1981.

The society has monthly meetings (including one this evening called "Mining Census Records" from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Wheaton Public Library) and its website provides helpful links to Publications (books, CDs), Research Resources (databases, assistance), Surnames (254 surnames, each with county/state and years), Facts and Tips (a great list of 58 good advice items) and more.

An individual membership costs $20 per year.

Members receive a monthly eNewsletter, a mailed quarterly, "The Review," discounts on publications and classes, access to archives and more.

Missed anniversary

April 5, 2014 was an important date, the 400th wedding anniversary of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, English tobacco planter of Jamestown, Virginia in 1614.

Many claim to be descended from that couple's son, Thomas, including Edith Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson, and Nancy Reagan, wife of President Ronald Reagan. Pocahontas was born about 1595 and died at an early age in England in 1617.

For more information on Pocahontas and her family tree, visit David Morenus's website at

Library of Congress eMagazine

The most recent issue of the Library of Congress' free eMagazine at (March/April 2014, Vol. 3, No. 2,) includes an article, "Researching Your Family Tree," that provides steps to take before a visit as well as helpful links to more information.

The library has acquired the papers of Carl Sagan (1934-1996) and online visitors can view more than 300 items, including a full draft of Sagan's science fiction novel, 'Contact.'

The Library's Surplus Books Program is aimed at building library collections of qualified organizations in the United States.

Visual aid

The print size of this eMagazine online may be too small for some readers.

An easy remedy: Place the cursor over the area to be enlarged. While holding down the control key tap the "+" (plus key) one or more times to achieve a more comfortable viewing. To reduce an area, tap the "-" (minus key) while holding down the control key.

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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