Since the advent of the internet, the world of information now available to those who seek to find genealogical records has become easier. Anyone who has access to a computer and internet service either at home or through public sites will quickly discover resources that open the doors to the past. The CSAGSI Paul M. Nemecek Genealogy Collection should be at the top of your list of resources. The collection includes books, many of them indexed, periodicals, maps, church and funeral home records. Ancestry.com, Family Search and the Bohemian National Cemetery Records are available through the library's computers.
- Central European Genealogical Links, websites worthy of your attention
- Political and Cultural Links, Embassy, Consulate, and other “official-type” links
- Research Assistance – When you need help and don’t know who to ask, check here. We may be able to suggest a way to solve your problem and remember when all else fails, it might be time to plan a field trip to the CSAGSI Paul M. Nemecek Genealogy Collection.
There are many more links and research topic pages in the membership section. Join CSAGSI today and have access to them and much more.
Czech Genealogy - Chicago
Denni Hlasatel Obituaries
This is not free, but it is worth every penny you spend on it. Somehow, I found out that there was a newspaper, in Czech, that published Chicago area obituaries for decades. I eventually found out how to get a Denni Hlastel Obituary and have been doing this ever since. The really good ones list old country places of birth, siblings, children, information I was not able to find elsewhere. (Reminder - CSAGSI is currently collecting DH Obits and has over 8,000 on file at the Riverside Library. We continue to seek donations of DH Obits.)
CSAGSI, the Czech & Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois has an index of the obituaries available for purchase. That Index is available online for CSAGSI members. The Chicago Genealogical Society also has some index materials. You need the date the obituary was published to order a copy of that obituary. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield (http://www.alplm.org) has the obituaries on microfilm and that is where I send away for my copies. (Click Here for direct link to their genealogy page.)
CSAGSI (I became a member) provided me with information and forms on how to find the Denni Hlastel obituary I needed and then request it from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. I discovered a very nice person at the library who does the work there. It seems to be a one or two person operation, and so some time is needed to process a request. The last request cost me five dollars and a return stamped envelope. You get two obituaries per request and cannot request another until after the previous one has been done and sent out.
I have also traveled to Springfield. I ask the staff for a microfilm of the year. I sit in front of the microfilm reader, find and print out the obituaries right there.
Check your library
My library allows at home online access to their newspaper obituaries database. I have also gone to the library to access it.
Ancestry has an extensive newspaper collection as part of its web site. You need a membership, but this is one site I gladly paid for.
Just Google - Once in a while I just take a stab at surfing to find an obituary. I have been successful a number of times, but most of those times are for more recent obituary listings.
Find A Grave - Every once in a while someone who posts to www.findagrave.com also includes the obituary. I really like the people who do that.
Catholic Church Records
https://www.catholiccemeterieschicago.org/Resources/Interment_Search - The Archdiocese of Chicago has an Interment Search Request page, if you are looking for someone buried in a Catholic cemetery.
Rootsweb has an excellent chart of earlier Chicago Catholic parishes and the major ethnic group that the parish served.
Rootsweb also has a search option for finding a parish based on an address you put into a search data base.
The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Archives and Records Center - “The archives and records center is the official repository for the records of the Archdiocese of Chicago and acts as a research tool to the Chicago Catholic past. The purpose of the archives is to identify, preserve, and make available Archdiocesan records, which have long term value for local, national and international communities.
Family Search - This is probably the most comprehensive listing of free records online. It is free to register and you will spend many hours browsing through their records. While some records can be found online, others are indexes. Many of those records listed in an index can be obtained by visiting a Chicago area Family History Center, or an Affiliate Library.
The National Archives web site is just too large to describe. http://www.archives.gov is the starting point. I have mostly used http://www.archives.gov/chicago as many of my mother and her family records can be found there. I went in search of naturalization records, though other types of records are also found here. You can order records online. I live within a short drive, so I actually went to their site at 7358 South Pulaski Road in Chicago.
Two ladies took my information and in a few minutes brought me back the complete naturalization record form for five of my family members. The records included pictures, birth locations in Poland and Czechoslovakia, names of witnesses who turned out to be more relatives. The cost was almost fifteen dollars, but it was worth it.
I was very lucky though, as my mother and her family arrived in the USA in the early 1900’s, and their naturalizations were official in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The two ladies told me that earlier records had much less or not really any additional information attached to them.
Note: While there, the ladies gave me a form to request naturalization records from Cook County, as many immigrant naturalizations were administered through Cook County and not the Federal government courts. I just submitted my first one. The charge there for a record is much more expensive, costing me almost twenty dollars for this first request. I will wait to see what the results of this request yield.
A section of the National Archives is devoted to military research. Just using their online records I have found two relatives and their service record. One was interned at a German prisoner of war camp. I found out the name. I searched the name at Google. To my surprise someone had made a complete web site of the camp along with names and pictures of many who were imprisoned there during World War Two.
There is another database, this one for Civil War, which has proven to help me with that event. The National Park Service maintains a Soldiers and Sailors Database which provides some good basic information on those who served in the Civil War.
Family Search also provides access to Federal naturalization records. This involves a two step process. You first use an index to discover the petition number of the person of interest. Once you have the petition number you use their web page listing all of the records. You find the year in question and then search through that file to find your petition number needed. They have an excellent Wiki Page which provides all the information you need.
If you have an ancestry account, you have perhaps the fastest access to Federal Naturalization Records. Under their menu heading of Immigration and Travel, you will find their records listed under several categories.
Clerk of the Court - Cook County - Thousands of immigrants used Illinois State Courts as a path to citizenship. “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. The Clerk's main web site has information on how to order these and other vital records of interest.
Birth - Marriage - Death Records
Ancestry has Chicago birth - death - marriage indexes
Family Search has Chicago birth - death - marriage indexes. View the index record and copy down the Film Number and Image Page information.
Take your copied information and head to a Family History Center (good idea to check ahead for times of operation, and if the one you are interested in has those records available.
Take your copied information and head to an Affiliate Library (also check for operation time, if your records are available, and if some one can help you). The Riverside Public Library is an Affiliate Library and has those records available when CSAGSI volunteers are in the Collections Room.
Remember to try “wild card” searches.
Ancestry is my first recommendation for census records.
Family Search is my second recommendation for census records.
Lookatcook is my recommendation for reverse census searches. If I do not know which census tract to look in Cook county, I start with my known address and a web site, A Look at Cook.
I choose my census year and a ward map of Chicago appears. I click on the ward which appears to hold the known address. A map showing the Enumeration Districts for that census and their street boundaries appears.
I can then return to ancestry.com and choose the census year, state, county, city, ward and census tract. It appears and now I search for the address and my person of interest. Sometimes I am amazed at how badly they copied the name into the database. Once in a while I still do not find the person I am looking for.
Ancestry is usually the first place I try. I has some of the best search options and allows for "Wild Card" entries.
Family also has ship records.
The Ellis Island web site has ship record. Registration is free. Once in a while, I can find or better read the departure village on these records.
Leo Baca Czech Passenger Lists (Books) are great. They can be found in a variety of places. They are part of Ancestry immigration search results. The CSAGSI Collection Room has copies.
Leo Baca Czech Immigration Passenger Lists
You can find them listed at a variety of places, but to see the complete information CSAGSI and other organizations have the books.
Cemetery Records - Cook County
Family Search maintains a list of sites where you can discover Cook County Cemetery Records - https://ldsgenealogy.com/IL/Cook-County-Cemetery-Records.htm
Small Town Iowa Connection to Chicago - Interesting site - worth a visit - http://www.oxfordjctgenealogy.com/main/?page_id=1217
This is from a Facebook posting, courtesy of Agawa Czech Genealogy:
Denni Hlasatel was the Czech language newspaper for Chicago. Some of the newspapers from WWI have been digitized at the Ministry of Defense in Prague and are available to view online. These newspapers document some of the activities which led to the creation of a free and democratic Czechoslovakia. They are also an important source for obits and marriage announcements from this time period: https://kramerius.army.cz/search/i.jsp…
This is from Denise - Home Genealogy Guide for 2019 - A getting started primer.
Search and Sort
Suggestions for additional ways to search and sort at ancestry.com - email to: email@example.com
I turn on my computer and go to ancestry.com in the hopes of finding someone. I know their name, approximate date of birth, and perhaps family members that are related to them, and could have lived with them at a certain census time.
I type in their name (for example – James Sedlacek, born, 1885, bohemia) and nothing even remotely close appears for me to look at. I know he exists, but a regular search reveals nothing.
Czechs and their records had a variety of names for James. Mine used Vaclav, Vaclaw, Wenzel, Wencel, and Wencil, besides Jim and James.
Recorders were not always interested in getting everything right. Some household members who gave the information were not always familiar with English, and gave inaccurate spellings or pronunciations.
Search using different first names
Try a “Wild Card” search. The ancestry.com databases, along with many other databases, allow a wild card search. Ancestry.com lets you type in three letters and an asterisk. I used sed* and that returned all kinds of variations after those first three letters. I found my James Sedlacek under Vaclav Sedlak.
Search on date and place of birth and location of search
Try leaving the first and last name blank in an ancestry.com search. Put in a birth year. Ancestry lets you search in brackets of years, so I usually at least say 2 years earlier or later than the date I typed in. Put in the birth location. Bohemia was Bohemia for a while, but later Czechoslovakia. Sometimes a person was also reported as born in Austria. Specify the lived in location. I usually use Chicago, Cook, Illinois or Cook, Illinois and click the exact button choice to narrow my search area.
Search using the most unusual family name you have found.
Born in Chicago? But no good record found yet– Search the ancestry.com Chicago birth databases
Try typing in the year and tell ancestry to give you a year or two adjustments in each direction. Try both parents’ first names, or just try one parent’s first name.
Saint Procopius Catholic Church of Chicago
Quote from Saint Procopius Catholic Church website. A very good history is located there.
Fr. William Coka, pastor of St. John Nepomucene, helped to organize a committee of Pilsen residents to raise funds for a new school and parish. In the summer of 1875, the committee bought three lots at the corner of 18th and Allport Streets for $3,600. The Methodist Church at 19th and Halsted wanted to build a brick church and would sell their old frame church for $2,000. Consequently, this frame structure was purchased and moved to 18th and Allport–the upper part to be used for worship and the lower part for a school. St. Procopius, a tenth century Benedictine monk, was chosen as patron saint of the new parish.
Saint Procopius School Video on YouTube - Dual Language School
Find A Grave - Saint Procopius Abbey Cemetery in Lisle, Illinois
Genealogy Help - If you can not find records elsewhere, Saint Procopius Church does record look ups.
Family Search - Has many St. Procopius and other Catholic Church records for Cook County online. They are indexes. BUT, if you go to a Family History Center, or an Affiliate Library, they may have the actual record.
CSAGSI has several books of Saint Procopius Death Records, along with an index the society created, which no one else has. firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastland Disaster 1915 - 2015
Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Eastland Disaster
Eastland Disaster Historical Society – Facebook Site
WTTW – The Eastland Disaster
Chicago Tribune – The Eastland Disaster
Chicago Tribune – The Eastland Disaster – Discovery of video clip
Genealogy Trails Web Site – Eastland Disaster
Find A Grave Virtual Cemetery – Postings by Nan – 115 grave sites of Eastland Disaster Victims
Genealogy For Kids
Genealogy For Kids
Links to websites for genealogy lesson plans and genealogy related sites for youngsters.
Thank you to Eva, a Colorado Librarian for this link below.
Tracking Your Ancestry - Researching your family history can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. You may even have started a genealogy project before and hit a wall, running out of clues to follow in your research. Luckily, important records and historical documents are moving online and are now more accessible than ever. Likewise, new technologies and techniques are making tracking family history easier. Online resources allow records stored in archives around the world to be accessed from home, and the emerging art of combining geographical data, historic maps, and geographic information systems can show the paths ancestors traveled long after the roads they walked and the buildings they lived in are gone.
Teacher Vision - Lesson plan for grades 3 to 5
Family Tree Lesson Plans at About Parenting website
Teaching Children About Genealogy at How to find your roots website
Genealogy for Kids - Website maintained by individual Mary Johnson
Teaching Your Kids About Genealogy - Bright Hub Education website
Celebrate Your Heritage - Scholastic.com website page
We are Family - Scholastic.com website page
Family Tree Grade School Projects - Hidden genealogy nuggets website page
Genealogy in the Classroom - Resources for Students and Teachers - Victoria, Canada website
Involve Children and Youth in Family History - Family Search Web Page
There once was an area within Cicero known as Hawthorne. Today the whole village is known as Cicero. Thousands of Czechs would eventually work in its largest industrial complex, built by a company first formed in 1869. That complex became known as Western Electric's Hawthorne Works. Many Czechs would live in Cicero. A Chicago Tribune article in 1985, describes Czechs in Cicero and Berwyn, stating that for a time the Hawthorne Works was nicknamed by local residents "Bohemian University". The history page of the Czech American Community Center described Cermak road as "The Bohemian Wall Street".
Western Electric's Hawthorne Works started with a land acquisition of 113 acres in 1902.
Hawthorne Works would literally become its own town. Quoting a brochure provided to us by the Hawthorne Works Museum "It was a vast manufacturing complex spread over two hundred acres employing up to forty thousand workers in more than a hundred buildings. With its own hospital, powerhouse, three hundred member police force, a fully equipped fire department and eleven cafeterias, Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works was more than just a factory. It was a self-sufficient city. For most of the 20th century, its army of dedicated laborers assembled the world’s finest tele-communications equipment, everything from the common home telephone to sophisticated military radar systems."
(Image above provided courtesy of the Hawthorne Works Museum at Morton College)
"In an era when most workers toiled in sweat-shops, Western Electric offered its Hawthorne Works employees medical coverage, night school, paid vacations and recreation programs. As the supplier for the nationwide Bell System, the Hawthorne name became synonymous with quality and innovation."
(Image above provided courtesy of the Hawthorne Works Museum at Morton College)
The Lucent Retirees web posting describes the production at Hawthorne Works - "By 1917, the Hawthorne Works facility employed 25,000 people, many of them Cicero residents of Czech or Polish descent, who produced telephones, cable and evry major telephone switching system in the country....and by 1920, 11,795,747 telephones. Over 14,000 different types of apparatus were manufactured at the plant....Western Electric also was a major producer of household appliances. The complex reached its zenith during World War II when it employed 50,000 workers."
Special thanks to Dennis Schlagheck and the Hawthorne Works Museum at Morton College.
Hawthorne Works Museum at Morton College Website
Hawthorne Works Museum Facebook Site
Lucent Retirees - Last Magazine from Hawthorne Works - Excellent history of the facility.
Chicago Tribune Article "Czechs Work to Hold Heritage"
Czech American Community Center - History Page
PDFs of Hawthorne Works / Western Electric