Illinois Ancestors: NamUs database lists unidentified, missing, unclaimed

Illinois Ancestors: NamUs database lists unidentified, missing, unclaimed

As reported in a recent article in The Buffalo News, the New York State Park Police continue to find bodies in the lake and river below the famous Niagara Falls and "struggle to identify" them. The newspaper article, at, also provides information on NamUs, (at "which went online with listings of unidentified people in 2007 and soon added missing persons." This website also has links to three lists — unidentified people, missing people and unclaimed people, whose identity is known but whose families have not been located.

NamUs, the National Unidentified Persons System, is "a searchable database created to assist in solving cases that involve unidentified human remains. The system includes cases from throughout the U.S. and may be searched by demographics, physical characteristics, case numbers or other specific information. New records are added every day by medical examiners and coroners across the country, increasing the chances that these unidentified persons will be named. Registration is not necessary to search the database." Visit

"Throughout the coming year, the National Institute of Justice will be upgrading the NamUs system to provide additional features and make it easier for everyone to use — from the input of new cases to searches across the databases."

The newspaper article also includes information (and a link) to a Canadian website, Canada's Missing, which catalogs missing persons and unidentified bodies in that country.

Tell kids about genealogy

Genealogist Megan Smolenyak recently did a fun interview with children, and it was published in North Carolina's Fun Family Newspaper, Kidville News, about being a genealogist. She tells what it's like at (The rest of the magazine is interesting as well.)

WWII vets accounted for

Smolenyak is also proudly helping the U.S. government find relatives of soldiers' remains. She recently reported on two veterans, both killed in World War II, whose families she had located, Army Pvt. Rudolph Johnson, at, and Army Air Force 1st Lt. Frank A. Fazekas, at (These U.S. websites provide more details on these veterans.)

Singer's ancestor had shady past

Smolenyak recently researched the ancestry of "Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson — better known as musical megastar, philanthropist, and activist Katy Perry" (who uses her mother's maiden name) and "became enchanted with Hannah Mulhare," one of Perry's Irish immigrant ancestors. At, Smolenyak's article, "Gold Fever: The Shiny, Shady Past of Katy Perry's Irish Great-Great-Grandmother," is most interesting — with documented proof of some "convincing deception."

Proposals for 2018 webinars sought

The Illinois State Genealogical Society's (ISGS) recent blog announced that ISGS is seeking proposals for its 2018 webinars. Since the state of Illinois will be celebrating its bicentennial in 2018, these webinars should be focused on Illinois.

"Live webinars [seminars/lectures on the Internet] are presented on the second Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m. Central Time and should be 45-55 minutes in length. Attendees can submit questions during the presentation and a short question and answer session will occur afterwards." For more information, visit

Inflation calculator helpful

Anyone who ever wondered what an ancestor's money would be worth today should visit the Inflation Calculator at For example, something that cost $100 in 1800 would cost $1,431.27 in 2016. This website also has links to other inflation-related websites.

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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