Historians use a timeline. Genealogists develop a family tree. Both of these tools are a means to construct a visual representation of what has gone before and our link to it.
I have only dabbled in genealogy and really didn't get very far; a copy of a ship's manifest found on the Ellis Island website was pretty much the sum total of my search. But, millions of people dig into old city directories, birth and death records, military records and a hundred other dusty files for information on their ancestors.
Chicago loves its history and Chicagoans, as I have recently discovered, are passionate about their family tree. And, to my surprise, Chicago History is a minor source of links to old Chicago records. Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog (hosted by Harold Henderson)that includes genealogy and family history in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and neighbor and feeder states, recently discovered the UICU Digitized Book of the Week . And, from there, as stated in the post "Was Your Ancestor Working on the Illinois Central Railroad?" found the Illinois Central Employees' Magazine for the years 1914-1924:
Its profusely illustrated pages offer a fascinating cultural history of the railroad in American life and the place of the Illinois Central Railroad in the family life of its employees. Each issue featured an extensive article on a town along the ICR route, a column for homemakers, a column on railroad humor, and advice for employees on financial planning. Interwoven with these articles of parochial interest are features on railroad engineering, legal issues (train accidents abounded in the early days!), industries that relied heavily on the railroad, and politics. You can even read about General John "Black Jack" Pershing's visit to Urbana in 1922! A treasure trove of information for genealogists!It's that old follow the Internet Road thing again. Glad I could help.
As a result of the post on Midwestern Microhistory I decided it would be appropriate to begin developing a link list for Chicago genealogy. When you get a chance, visit the Library (also see link in left column); I've opened a "Genealogy Room."
But, and it's a big one - I could really use some help from the Chicago genealogists out there. I have quickly learned that there are a great many sites and information pages. What are the best? Where does someone start their search? Is there a best family tree chart? What about genealogy software? Any books that are particularly useful? I'll include the suggestions on the "Genealogy Room" page and credit the contributor. Leave a comment or send me an email. I would love to hear from those skilled in genealogical research.
Finally, I would also like to hear from any descendants of old Chicagoans - notable or not. Let's see if there are any old Chicago branches still growing in the city.
Photo Credit: WikiTree