Sunday, February 24, 2013

For the Love of Spreadsheets

                Yesterday I attended DuPage County Genealogical Society’s 38th Annual Conference:  Discovering Early American Roots.  My first session was Jeanne Larzalere Bloom’s presentation Spreadsheets 101: EXCEL, the Genealogist Underutilized Tool on using Excel Spreadsheets.  I have always been a spreadsheet aficionado, so I thought I might pick up some pointers.  She had some good examples of how she documented her research using customized spreadsheets.
                In her syllabus Jeanne cited Gary Minder’s  So of course, I had to go check it out.  This website has also been written up in Dick Eastman’s newsletter.  In the responses to Dick’s article on Gary’s spreadsheets, there was one from Dae Powell of Shoestring Genealogy.  He suggested a key spreadsheet was missing on – one to track city directory finds.  Since I have one of my own for that, I wanted to see what Dae came up with.  I was pleasantly surprised to see 22 forms offered for download on as well as a wealth of other material he has compiled!

                I reviewed Gary’s spreadsheets, which include more than just census sheets by the way.  I liked them enough I bought the package of 40 spreadsheets.  I may not use them all, but it was a fair price for the work Gary has put into the spreadsheets.  Why did I buy these instead of downloading the ones at Shoestring Genealogy?  I liked the idea of having spreadsheets I could actually enter data into on my computer – Shoestring is a download of a PDF file.  You will need a pencil or pen to use those.  Then how do I get them back into my computer or manipulate the discrete data elements?
                Everyone has their own way of managing their genealogy data.  One of these sites may have something that will help you!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Circuit Court of Cook County Archives on-line

            I recently visited the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives on-line at  I found it by chance via a Google search.   
            I found a few people I was looking for in the database search, downloaded the form, completed it and mailed it, per instructions on the web site, with my check.  I was totally surprised to receive it back with the documents in about a week!   I received a copy of the original Declaration of Intent which was loaded with details I did not have before:  the ship of arrival, the ports of departure and arrival, place of birth and physical description with “visible distinctive marks” (in this case a birthmark on the left cheek).

What I received in the mail

Here is the detail from the web site:
The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives is home to more than 500,000 naturalization petitions covering the years 1871 to 1929. More than 400,000 of these records are Declarations of Intention, 1906-1929 which were usually the first papers to be filed by those who wished to become U.S. citizens.
Because the Declaration may be the only public record of an individual immigrant, it is a significant source of documentation for genealogists and scholars.
Also, taken as a whole, the Declarations of Intention document the social changes of the immigrant experience during this era and so can be of interest to scholars and researchers from many disciplines.
This database of Declarations of Intention was created thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a division of the National Archives.

Where do I find records filed before 1906 and after 1929?
For records filed before 1906 in Cook County refer to the following Clerk of the Circuit Court Archive web page:
After 1929, the local Cook County courts stopped granting naturalizations, and the task was given entirely to the Federal Courts. To find local naturalizations after 1929, please contact a local branch of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Chicago is served by NARA Great Lakes Region. You can find them here:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Holocaust archive rescues lost identities, reunites family after decades

Nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War, a Holocaust archive in Germany is helping victims and survivors of Nazi atrocities to find clues about the past -- and is still reuniting families. NBC News' Andy Eckardt reports from Bad Arolsen, Germany.
   Read the entire article here