Illinois Ancestors | Search for obituaries on the web

Illinois Ancestors | Search for obituaries on the web

The Ancestor Hunt has posted a helpful website at where researchers can search indexes to old Canadian newspaper obituaries and then learn the holder of that obituary. Keep in mind that the library or genealogical society having the obituary may charge a small fee to send a copy of it.

This website also has links to U.S. states having free newspaper obituaries. The Illinois page, at, can be most helpful.

Security breach results in wake-up call

The recent hack of MyHeritage data has caused Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, to issue a wakeup call to all genealogists: "Change that password." Her announcement, which can be read at, offers important advice and links to related information.

FamilySearch search tips

FamilySearch, "the world's largest family history website" has over 2 billion records from countries around the world. To help researchers make the best use of these resources, the UK's Family Tree Magazine has posted "Top ten search tips for exploring the FamilySearch genealogy website" at Learn about exact searching, wildcards, single collection searching and more. (Note that this website's toolbar offers links to how-to-guides and more.)

Free land records online

Kate Jackson has written a most informative article, "Millions of Homestead Act and Other Land Records are Free Online from the BLM." BLM stands for the U.S. government's Bureau of Land Management. Her article, at, explains how the Homestead Act of 1862 "offered a turning point in the lives of many Americans" and how researchers can access the records that were created.

To search the BLM records, visit Select a state, and enter a name (at least a surname) and click "search patents." The result is a chart with the following information: accession (number with link), name (last, first) date, number, state, meridian, twp.-range, aliquots, section number and county. One can click on "image" to see a copy of that document. A click on "related documents" results in similar information on other individuals having land having the same land description (township, range, section number and county) — obviously neighbors and perhaps relatives.

From the homepage, note the link to Reference Center. From there one may click on a link to Related Websites (see Illinois) and Glossary.

Search Social Security death records

Genealogists are pleased to learn of another source for the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). A free search on Fold3 can be made at Called "Memorial Pages," this new version provides date of birth and date of death — not as informative as "old" versions, but helpful nevertheless.

Find the source of a newspaper clipping

Thomas Macentee has posted a helpful article on how to track down the original source of a newspaper clipping, article, obituary, etc. that does not tell the name of the source or the date. "Newspaper Clippings — Using Reverse Search to Cite Sources and Save Your Sanity," at might be useful. The solution lies in the fact that newspapers have been digitized and ... read more!

Attend fall conference

It is not too early to begin making plans to attend the Illinois State Genealogical Society 2018 Fall Conference on Oct. 26- 27 in Springfield. A brochure at provides complete details. The featured speaker will be Thomas W. Jones; he and eight other experts will will present 20-plus sessions.

New this year will be preconference workshops presented on Friday, Oct. 26 by Jones. They will be limited to 30 attendees each and online registration is required. Workshop 1 (8-10 a.m.): "Developing Research Questions and Hypotheses; Planning an Exhaustive Search." Workshop 2 (10:30 a.m. to noon): "Special Problems II: Identifying Female Ancestors." Thomas will also be the speaker at Friday evening's banquet. His topic: "How Genealogy Hasn't Changed in Half a Century."

Plan to attend this conference, "Celebrating Our Ancestors." Visit

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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