On Saturday, 11 Nov 2011, I attended a meeting of the Chicago Genealogy Society at the Newberry Library. This was the first time I have attended one of their meetings. And, to be perfectly honest, I attended because I wanted to turn in my membership paperwork. Yes, I finally joined. I had planned on joining since September when I met a few of the members at the FGS conference in Springfield, IL.
This month, Thomas MacEntee (of GeneaBlogger’s fame) presented They’re Alive! Searching for the Living. I truly figured I would not learn anything new at this lecture because I have successfully located living family members. Cousins of my maternal grandfather to be exact, cousins he never met.
Once again, Thomas proved me wrong. He has a list of many websites that I have not heard of and I will be going through them soon. Since this is a lecture that Thomas give’s I do not want to give out his information. I do recommend that if you have not heard Thomas present that you put it on your list of things to do. He takes any topic, adds a bit of humor and a ton of great resources. Well worth the time and as I said earlier, you should attend even if it is something you feel you already have all the information you need. He always has another outlook and much more information. I have seen Thomas present twice in the past month and feel as if I am becoming a groupie.
Today we had beautiful weather, a great day to be outside and enjoying the many sites Chicago has to offer. Instead, I opted for a day of research at Newberry Library. First and foremost, drivers beware, parking is costly! Parking meters are now $2.00 per hour with a 2 hour maximum. Local parking garage is $6 for the first half hour and $19 for 2-10 hours. So, if public transportation is an option I suggest taking it. Beware, the library does not allow any bags into the reading rooms.
As you walk into this impressive building you are greeted by security. You must show your reading card and sign in. If you have any bags on you, security will promptly point you to lockers. Once you have signed in and passed security you follow the stairs to the second floor, which is where they house their genealogical materials. You must check in here with the librarian and he/she will assign you a desk to work at. Each desk seats four people, the staff does a great job at making sure they spread everyone out. It always seems like we are there alone!
The staff is overly helpful. I spent probably a good half hour with their historian today. I was seeking assistance with my Russian research, that I seem to ignore daily. My mother in law’s Grandfather was in the Russian White Army and came to the USA in 1916 (with his family). He was here working with the Russian Artillery Commission. You can read this previous post for information. I did learn today that once the Czar was overthrown the Russian Embassy began paying the salary of the Russians that ended up losing there salary due to this. They were then given the job of assisting the Russians that were coming to the USA. The Embassy continued paying them until mid 1920’s. What I am trying to find is how Anatoly Porai Koshetz arrived in America, with his family. I have not been able to find any records through Ellis Island, either on Ancestry or Ellis Islands websites. My question was should I continue to look here or should I be looking in Russia. His suggestion was to continue with research in America. He believes something will surface. So for now, I will do that.
What I really want to share with you is the history of the collections in this building. As I stated earlier, this was not my first visit to the Newberry Library. Some of the books/folio’s we requested to look at today were very old, and in great condition. I want to tell you about my 3 favorite.
- First I browsed a book form the late 1800’s. The pages seemed to be made of cloth instead of paper. It had a very silk like feel to it.
- I also looked over a few folio’s that were family tree’s, one from the 1800’s, it was the Royal lineage of England. I was in awe as I opened each flap of it.
- Last another family tree folio which was also of the Royal families. This one was from the 1700’s. The tree itself went a few generations before “King Jesus” .
They were all amazing to look through and honestly I feel privileged to have been able to hold and go through each one of these items. I appreciate the great job Newberry does in preserving history.
Besides the great conversation and research trips from the Historian, my research did not prove to be anything great today. I found a few marriage dates for some collateral lines. Found two ancestors in the DAR index. But that’s about it.
I have one question for all of my fellow researchers that have their tree uploaded on Ancestry. How do you differentiate your direct line ancestors from your collateral lines? I know in some programs, such as Reunion you can “mark” these ancestors. I need some assistance as to how to make it easier to search my tree on Ancestry. My sister-in-law and I had a 20 minute conversation on the way home as to how we can make this more efficient. Any advice?