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Is your local genealogical society in need of extra funds in order to tackle that necessary project (such as a computer upgrade, publication of data, planning a reunion, etc.)? Why not apply for one of Megan Smolenyak's Seton Shields Genealogy Research Grants.

Named in honor of her mother, these grants are Smolenyak's way to "give back" to the genealogical community that has given her so much. Since May 2000 she has awarded 188 grants and she hopes to continue to do so at the rate of one every quarter. All submissions remain active candidates for six months from the date she receives them. Read about her grants (and past recipients) at

The grant application can be filled out online and has only a few questions; they include: name, address, email address; brief overview of how your organization or activities serve(s) the genealogical community; amount of funding sought; specific purpose for which funding will be used; is there a deadline; any additional information you feel is important; where you heard of grant.

What a wonderful way to help your local genealogical organization — and, in turn, help the genealogical community at large.

Genealogy search engine

GenealogyInTime Magazine has often been mentioned in this column as a source of recent databases available on the Internet. Of equal importance, is its free Genealogy Search Engine which can be accessed at Click on "Get Started FAQs" to learn more, including the scope of this helpful search engine.

Searchable surname index

The Reference Collection of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield has many nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century county histories, biographical directories and encyclopedias. A searchable index to the biographical sketches in these works has been compiled and can be searched at

The website provides the citation to the biographical sketch. The volumes themselves are located in the Library's Steve Neal Reading Room. However, it is possible that the book/s may also be found in a local library or on the web, since many have been digitized.

For example, a search for William Black results in over a dozen individuals by that name, each shown with a date (year) of birth and page number/s. If a name is selected (by clicking on the "X") the book's title, author, publisher and date of publication is shown. For instance, William P. Black, born 1842, is found on pages 496-497 in Hiram Williams Beckwith's History of Vermilion County, published in 1879 by H. H. Hill & Co., Chicago. Also William P Black, born 1842, is on pages 666-667 in Soldiers' and Patriots' Biographical Album, published in 1892 by Chicago's Union Veteran Publishing Company.

For more information, contact the library's Reference Desk at 217-524-6358.

Genealogy tips

The Champaign County Genealogical Society (CCGS) has posted a helpful list of 49 Research Facts and Tips that should especially be studied by beginning genealogical researchers. This list can be found at More experienced researchers may even find some facts not previously realized. For example, "Only the 1900 census lists month and year of each person's birth, in addition to all the other information asked in that year." And did you know "the 1850-1880 censuses list whether a couple's marriage occurred in the previous year"?

Be sure to click on other links offered on the left side of the page. The story about the Gilliland Gravestones is most interesting. Also click "links" to learn of other helpful websites. Click "Join CCGS" to learn the advantages of becoming a member of this worthwhile organization. (An individual membership costs $20 per year; students, $15.)

Did you know that CCGS has published many bible records in its Quarterly? The list of such records, and the issue in which the record/s appeared, are at This web page also includes an index to all subjects in past Quarterlies — a most-lengthy list.

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.