The Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club 2021 schedule is confirmed! The club will continue to convene twice a month, and we can’t wait for you to enjoy our upcoming programs. Due to the global pandemic, all Genealogy Club meetings for 2021 will be held in a virtual format via zoom. A link and handout to the program will be emailed to registrants one day before the program, with a second reminder and handout sent an hour before the event. Meetings will continue to be held at 11 a.m., and due to the generosity of our speakers, all sessions will be recorded and available online after the program for either seven or thirty days. We wish to thank our speakers for accommodating our researchers who may not be able to attend scheduled programs due to essential work, employment schedules and family obligations.

All our Genealogy Club meetings are free and open to the public by registration over the phone at 630.685.4176 or online at To register online quickly and easily, type ‘Genealogy’ in the search box at the top of the page and adjust the calendar dates to see what club meetings are open for registration.

You are not required to enter a library card number during the registration process. Please note, our events are published to the calendar quarterly, so please be patient if you do not see a club meeting on the calendar multiple months in advance. To ensure you do not miss a meeting, you can use the following schedule of our 2021 events to set registration reminders for all programs.

Taking a look at the 2021 calendar year, you can expect to find a great array of sessions that should help you break down your genealogical brick walls and steer you in a new direction of research.

Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club 2021 Schedule

January 13: One-Name Studies: What Are They and How Can They Help Your Research?
Presented by Michael Cassara

A One-Name Study is “in-depth research on all occurrences of a single surname.” In this talk, Michael Cassara explores the different types of one-name studies/surname projects, including the latest software and methodology as well as DNA/technology.

January 27: Voting Records: Genealogy’s Best Kept Secret
Presented by Pam Vestal

Looking for a date of birth or death? When and where your ancestor became a citizen? Where he disappeared to or where he came from? Voting records may have the answer. Genealogist Pam Vestal will show you how these often-overlooked gems can be packed with genealogical information, and you won’t believe what they can tell us about our ancestors!

February 10: Using Newspaper Resources on the Old Fulton Postcards Website
Presented by Jennifer Warner

Old Fulton Postcards has one of the largest selections of American and Canadian newspapers available to researchers for free online. Genealogist Jennifer Warner will show you how to maximize the search capabilities of the site, navigate your results and find the information you need quickly and efficiently.

February 24: Documenting Death with or Without a Death Certificate
Presented by Jane Neff Rollins

When pursuing genealogy research, sometimes the facts about death can be buried as deeply as the ancestor! Join us as Jane Neff Rollins discusses how to find a wide variety of documents that identify the date and place of death (even if a death certificate can’t be found) and how to decode what the documents are really telling you.

March 10: Navigating Irish and Catholic Records on FindMyPast
Presented by Jen Baldwin

Learn the ins and outs of Irish and Catholic records on FindMyPast – one of the largest online websites for these collections. This lecture will demonstrate essential search and strategy techniques that will help you locate, evaluate and utilize these records in your research.

March 24: Missing: Reward! Locating Widows, Spinsters and Bachelors
Presented by Sara Cochran

Widows, spinsters and bachelors are a part of everyone’s ancestral tree. Widows create tax records and appear in city directories, land records and estate records. They may be identified with their married name or maiden name. They may or may not have been living with their adult children or buried with their husbands. Adults may never have been married or may be difficult to identify because they were the last of their branch of the family. They didn’t discuss their life, ceased communication with their family and didn’t leave a written record. Come and join us to learn how to conquer these impregnable genealogical forests.

April 14: Black Graves Matter
Presented by Tammy Gibson

Historian Tammy Gibson will share her journey of exploring African American cemeteries from around the United States and how commercialization, neglect and development is threatening the burial locations of our ancestors.

April 28: Roots, War and the Soul: Writing Your Military Stories
Presented by Jennifer Holik

Writing the stories of our military ancestors can create awareness, community and healing in our families and lives. In this hands-on workshop, Jennifer will be your storyteller and guide you on a journey into the past. You will learn a few basics of military research, how to start writing, what to write, and you will be given writing prompts to write during the program.

May 12: DNA Tests and Genealogy
Presented by Suz Bates

What DNA test do I buy? How will it help in my genealogy research? Explore the use of DNA to enhance your genealogy research and build out your family trees. Suz Bates, a local genealogist, will compare the different DNA kits available and explain some first steps to take once your DNA results are in.

May 26: Old McDonald Had a Farm
Presented by Tina Beaird

Farm records can be an insightful tool for understanding your ancestor’s place in the world. Were they wealthy, prosperous farmers or scratch farming to survive? Agricultural census, land records, tax assessments, court records, farm directories, newspapers and personal ledgers and diaries can each provide an additional layer of insight into your family tree.

June 9: My DNA Results Are In! What Do They Mean?
Presented by Suz Bates

Learn how to use a combination of DNA results and paper documentation to expand your genealogy research. What is the difference between Paper Trail family history research and DNA Trail genealogy research and how do they come together to fill out your family tree? Suz Bates, a local genealogist, will present tools and techniques to begin your explorations today.

June 23: Virtual Services with the Newberry Library
Presented by Grace DuMelle

Learn how the Newberry Library is innovating its genealogy services and reference tools to assist researchers. In this session, you’ll discover what resources are available virtually, how to request specific items and how the Newberry staff can assist you with genealogy-specific research.

July 14: What Software Should I Use? Comparing Three Different Genealogy Computer Programs
Presented by Dan Jungclas

Review today’s top genealogy software programs before you buy! Genealogist Dan Jungclas will lead a review of three genealogy software programs with the pros and cons of each product. By the end of this lecture, you will have a better idea of which software fulfills your needs and how it fits into your budget.

July 28: American Migration Trails Westward
Presented by Steve Sabadoz

America is a land of immigrants. Most arrived on the East coast and eventually pushed westward towards the Mississippi River and beyond. This migration was made possible by trails cut through the wildness and then the use of barges on the rivers. The number of new settlers increased after the American Revolution and was helped by the Erie Canal and the construction of the railroads. The need for more and better transportation led to the demand for more wagons, barges and, more importantly, railroad equipment and supplies. This is more than the story of the settlement of the Midwest and western states but the explosive development of the Industrial Revolution in America. This program will try to show how our immigrant ancestors were one of the forces that caused all of this.

August 11: Reconstructing Communities Using Sanborn Maps, Census Records and City Directories
Presented by Ari Wilkins

Recreating neighborhoods can provide rich and insightful details about an ancestor’s life and surroundings. This lecture will demonstrate ways to build a map using Sanborn Fire insurance maps, census records and city directories in Google Maps.

August 25: Reconstructing Susan’s Family
Presented by Anita Boyd

Her husband was a well-known abolitionist, but almost nothing was known about Susan’s Family. Guest speaker, Anita Boyd, will show how exploring Susan’s husband’s pre-Civil War FAN Club lead to a family for Susan. Join us as we traverse the United States and beyond in search of clues.

September 8: Cite That Source When You Find It!
Presented by Chris Tracy

Everyone says you need to cite your sources in research. Citing sources in genealogy doesn’t have to be complicated or cause anxiety. Learn the basic components of citations and some tips that will ensure you cover all the necessary information.

September 22: Using School Records In Your Family Tree
Presented by Tina Beaird

Learn about the many ways you can access cool details about your ancestors by using school records like yearbooks, school schedules, teacher’s registers, school newspapers, alumni directories and much more. This is one class you won’t want to ditch.

October 13: From the Source’s Mouth
Presented by Dr. Daniel Hubbard

Once we’ve understood that identities can be tricky to reconstruct, how do we piece together the tidbits of information that we find into an actual ancestor? How do we avoid putting together a great-great frankenfather from the spare parts we find in the documents we dig up? Do we trust what seems to be true, or do we look long and hard into the “source’s mouth?”

October 27: Researching Pre-Fire Chicago
Presented by Ginger Frere

Think there’s no way to research Chicago before 1871? Think the fire burned your chances for discovering what Chicago was like in its early days? All is not (and was not) lost. This presentation will introduce you to a gold mine of pre-Fire treasures in the Newberry Library’s collections. Maps, diaries, church records, newspapers and sheet music are just a few of the hot items you’ll find out about.

November 10: World War II Genealogy: Beyond the Service Record
Presented by Jonathan Deiss

Researcher Jonathan W. Deiss will show you how to locate difficult military service-related details that cannot be found in the veteran’s service records at the National Archives and other repositories. This lecture includes case studies and examples.

November 17: Researching Your Spanish-American War Ancestors 
Presented by Michael L. Strauss

On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain following the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. The short war ended 109 days later, on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The war marked a turning point in history as this four-month conflagration transformed the United States from a developing nation into a global power. In the end, the United States had acquired the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico, which would lead the United States into the Philippine Insurrection the following year.

Feel free to share our schedule with your family and genealogy friends. If you have any questions about our programs and research assistance, you can reach me by phone at 630.685.4201 or by email at

See you at our next club meeting!