Illinois Ancestors | Nominees sought for state genealogical society awards

Illinois Ancestors | Nominees sought for state genealogical society awards

The Illinois State Genealogical Society presents awards each year at its fall conference. Nominations can be made by individuals or societies for these awards, and nominations are now being sought for 2018, to be awarded at the conference in Springfield on Oct. 26 and 27.

The awards are: Community Service Award, Special Recognition Award, Youth Award, Distinguished Service Award, Individual Writers Award and Volkel Memorial Award. Information on these awards can be found on the ISGS website ( or go directly to

The deadline for submissions is July 1. For questions or assistance, email Susie Pope at

Guide aids genealogical research

Isabel Wu has posted a helpful article, "Chinese-American Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing Your Ancestry," at This reference is in three parts: the history of Chinese immigration in the U.S., techniques to get you started with your research, and genealogy sites and databases that offer (mostly) free records for finding ancestors.

The website of The House of Chinn, at, also has some helpful information. Be sure to keeping clicking "next page" at the end of each page. There are several pages of helpful details, including the ability to purchase any of the 16 surname booklets.

Some states took 1885 census

In 1879, the federal government suggested that states and territories take a semi-decennial census in 1885; however, most states did not. (Little was it realized how important such a count would be.) The states that did take such a census were Florida, Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska and a territory census was taken in 1885 in New Mexico and Dakota. (Minnesota also took a state census in 1895.) Read more at

Minnesota's graveyards to get better care

Mark Brunswick's article in Minnesota's Star Tribune reported that a bill in the Minnesota Legislature "would require local governments to take responsibility for abandoned cemeteries if a veteran is buried there. It would also establish an adopt-a-cemetery program ... and require the state Historical Society to update its inventory of state cemeteries, abandoned cemeteries and burial grounds." Read more at

This website also provides a link to the 72-page "An Investigation of Unrecorded Historical Cemeteries in Minnesota."

Undelivered letters to be posted online

The National Archives of the United Kingdom and the University of Oldenburg in Germany have joined in a 20-year project to digitize the so-called Prize Papers and make them available for free online. These Prize Papers are a collection of thousands of letters from all over the world that were never delivered because they were captured during a war on enemy ships — about 160,000 letters in mailbags.

Visit to read the ABC News account of this project.

McHenry County to host conference

The McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society will hold its 2018 Summer Conference on Saturday, July 7, at the McHenry County College, 8900 U.S. 14, Crystal Lake, IL 60012. The speakers will be Judy Russell (The Legal Genealogist), Lisa Ann Alzo, David Rencher and Curt B. Witcher — all well-known, expert genealogists. Visit for complete details on the speakers, the scheduled topics, door prizes, vendors, hotels and registration information; or phone 1-815-687-0436.

Emblems on tombstones defined

The U.S. government provides tombstones for U.S. veterans and these markers may include an "emblem of belief ... that represents the sincerely held belief of the decedent that constituted a religion or the functional equivalent of a religion and was believed and/or accepted as true by that individual during his or her life." Symbols such as a cross or Star of David may be easy to interpret, but there are dozens of other emblems that may be on a marker. At is a list of the dozens of emblems of belief (even several types of crosses) that may be found. These symbols may also be found on non-veterans' tombstones.

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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