Sunday, September 28, 2014

Check Out Our New CGS Videos

Take a look at some of the new videos posted on our YOUTUBE channel highlighting recent CGS events.

On August 2-3, Chicago Genealogical Society participated in a ceremony with Purple Hearts Reunited.

September 13, 2014 CGS hosted a seminar with Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist. She opened our eyes to the possibilities of DNA research. We also had fun swapping research stories!

Here are two videos showcasing what CGS is up to these days...

Were you there? Have something to share? Tell us your thoughts on our social media.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Come One, Come All, To Chicago's Greatest Year-1893-CGS EVENT NOV 1

The Chicago Genealogical Society and the Newberry Library Present

Chicago's Greatest Year: 1893

A talk by author Joseph Gustaitis

There is an almost endless list of achievements that took place in Chicago in 1893. Chicago's most important skyscraper was completed in 1893, and Frank Lloyd opened his office in the same year. African American physician and Chicagoan Daniel Hale Williams performed one of the first known open-heart surgeries in 1893. Sears and Roebuck was incorporated and William Wrigley invented Juicy Fruit gum that year. Find out about these and other Chicago achievements during a presentation by Joseph Gustaitis.

Saturday, November 1, 2014 1:30 pm
The Newberry Library
60 W. Walton

Chicago, IL 60610

For more information:
The Newberry - 312-255-3512

CGS - 

Friday, September 12, 2014

CGS Makes Three "Paying Your Genealogy Forward" Suggestions for Fall 2014

Looking for ways to use the knowledge and skills you've obtained on your genealogical journey to help others?  We have some volunteering suggestions here . . . and they're even Chicago-based!

#1 = Friends of the White City

Ray Johnson, President of Friends of The White City, explains, "FOTWC is a 501c3 corporation dedicated to educating the public on the historical significance of the 1893 Columbian Exposition. In the process we will be conducting on-going research on the Exposition, researching and raising money to preserve artifacts that remain and providing educational programs at no or low cost to schools, community groups, libraries, historical societies, etc.
There are many ways that volunteers can assist us in our mission. We are a very new non-profit so we are still working out fundraising and membership programs but here are some very immediate needs that a genealogist/historian may want to contribute:
1. Our on-going website content development - (Adopt-a-Topic) The structure of the page is complete but the content will be a never ending process and more than one researcher or author would be able to handle in a lifetime. The goal is to be the main portal to all things EXPO. In particular the content involving the Expo itself. I am looking for people who love a particular portion of the Expo and would be willing to contribute to the writing and research on that topic. The author would retain rights over what is written but would allow FOTWC to place it on our website. For instance, maybe one of your members loves the Ferris Wheel and would like to write a research article on the Wheel or George Ferris or has a family story about a ride on the Ferris Wheel and would like to submit it and that person could be a point of contact for everything "Ferris Wheel"

2. Family Lookups - Even though it is not an official program on our website yet it will be very shortly. In fact we already get requests from people whose ancestor worked at, displayed at, or won an award at the Fair and would like more info. Sometimes they just have a photo or an employee pass. There are records that exist at various repositories that can help solve a family mystery but alas research time is short without volunteers. We also will have a place on the website to display family stories submitted by family or volunteers.

3. Tour Docents - Currently FOTWC is partnered with the Jackson Park Advisory Council and give free tours of the former grounds of the "White City" on Saturday Mornings at 11:00am The tours finish this year on October 25th. We plan to offer the tours every year during the time period that the Fair was open (May 1st through October 30th) We are always looking for people with a love for the history of the fair who would like to give tours. We would provide the materials and training.
4. Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities - Of course throughout the years to come we will have volunteer opportunities for fundraising programs and events. (On plan is a fundraising fun run through Jackson Park called "Run Like The Devil Through The White City.") As needs arise we can notify those interested in volunteering.
We will have a place on the website for volunteers to register but in the meantime anyone interested in volunteering any skill or idea can email us at"

#2 = National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Database Registry

Enroll your relative today!

The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor was recently formed to build a database registry of U.S. Purple Heart recipients.  It commemorates the extraordinary sacrifices of America's +1.8 million servicemen and servicewomen who were killed or wounded in combat from all branches of U.S. military service, from all wars where the purple heart medal was awarded.  The mission of the Hall of Honor is to collect and preserve the stories of Purple Heart recipients across generations to ensure that all recipients are represented.  Now is your chance to help build the database registry with your relative's information!

Step One = Search the Roll of Honor Online Database at to see whether your relative is already enrolled.  If not,
Step Two = Follow the Roll of Honor Enrollment Instructions at
Step Three = Complete the Roll of Honor Enrollment Form at
Find more details on the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor website at

#3 = FindAGrave---
Photo Volunteer for Chicago Cemeteries

Genealogists worldwide have recently come to rely on FindAGrave to virtually find information from cemeteries that they can't physically visit themselves.  If you're able to visit local Chicago cemeteries, you can help other genealogists obtain digital photos of their Chicago ancestors' tombstones as a FindAGrave Photo Volunteer.  Here's how to volunteer:
A) Log in,
B) Click on your public name to go to your Contributor Profile,
C) Click “Edit my profile,”
D) Enter the Chicago zip code you can work within, and
E) If you’d like to receive requests, under “Preferences” select “Photo Volunteer.”
Find more details on the FindAGrave website's Frequently Asked Questions section called "What is a photo volunteer?" at .


When you have a success with one of the above suggestions (or a Pay It Forward project of your own), we’d love to hear about it!  Email a paragraph describing your experience + recommendations to CGS Publicity Team at, confirming your permission to share it on CGS social media and publications.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Last Day to Take Advantage of Early Bird Discount

The Early Bird Deadline to register for the Chicago Genealogical Society’s Fall Seminar on September 13, 2014, at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library with Judy G. Russell, JD, CGsm, CGLsm, The Legal Genealogist, is TODAY!

For those of you who have heard Judy speak, register now at  For those who have not heard her speak, we suggest you visit her website and read her blog Judy posts nearly every day an informative genealogy post which is usually sprinkled with her great humor.

We are excited about Judy visiting the Chicago Genealogical Society. The seminar will be Judy’s first time speaking in the Chicago and Northern Illinois area. Let’s welcome her to the Windy City!

So register now at so you too can enjoy this great genealogy day with the Chicago Genealogical Society!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hurry! Only 3 Days Left to Take Advantage of Early Bird Discount For Our Fall Seminar!

The Early Bird Deadline to register for the Chicago Genealogical Society’s Fall Seminar with Judy G. Russell, JD, CGsm, CGLsm, The Legal Genealogist, is just 3 days away.

Register now and spend September 13th learning about DNA and Genealogy & the Law. Judy has just attended the International Genetic Genealogy Conference and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference and she is looking forward to sharing with us.

Judy G. Russell, will be speaking on September 13, 2014, at the all-day CGS 2014 Fall Genealogy Seminar. Judy will be presenting the following sessions:
Don’t Forget the Ladies – A Genealogist’s Guide to Women and the Law
Beyond X and Y: The Promise and Pitfalls of Autosomal DNA Testing
Staying Out of Trouble – The Rights and Responsibilities of Today’s Genealogists

Registration starts at 9:30a.m. with the first session beginning at 10:00a.m. The seminar will be at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Arlington Heights, IL, in the Hendrickson Room on the 2nd Floor. Register online or postmarked by August 31, 2014, CGS Members $35.00; Non-Members $45.00. After August 31, 2014, registration is $50.00. Box lunch is an additional $10.00. See registration form attached. Seats are limited, so register today!

If you have already registered, send this information to your genealogy friends and invite them along.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Chicago Genealogical Society's proud support of Purple Hearts Reunited

On August 2-3, 2014, The Chicago Genealogical Society was proud to support the efforts of the charity Purple Hearts Reunited which returned three lost WWII purple heart and other military medals of Chicago servicemen to the families and communities where they belong.

Purple Hearts Reunited, Inc. is a non-profit organization that rescues and returns lost military purple heart medals to veterans or living next of kin in public or private reuniting ceremonies.  Many purple heart medals are “lost” thru theft, fire or misplacement.  Purple Hearts Reunited purchases and also accepts donations of lost purple hearts, having reunited over 100 medals with American families in the past 3 years.  At present, it has approximately 300 purple heart medals to be reunited with the servicemen's families (at a cost of approximately $1,000 per ceremony).  Purple Hearts Reunited is a non-profit organization that is funded thru tax-deductible corporate and personal financial donations (not via any military agency funding).  You can find the many ways to contribute lost purple heart medals and your financial support on their website at

Purple Heart Reunited’s founder, Captain Zachariah Fike (purple heart recipient in Afghanistan, currently serving in the Vermont Army National Guard), conducted the two public and one private Chicagoland reuniting ceremonies below on August 2-3, 2014.

PFC Carmen V. Ramos' (KIA in WWII) Donation to the National Museum of Mexican Art

Pictured are Sergeant William Kappel and Officer Brenda Valadez of the Chicago Police Department, Mr. Carlos Tortolera, President of the National Museum of Mexican Art and Captain Zachariah Fike of Purple Hearts Reunited.

Welcoming home to Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, less than one mile south of where PFC Ramos lived, the National Museum of Mexican Art graciously accepted the donation of Ramos' WWII medals in hopes that a family member will soon come forward.

TEC5 Emanuel Mark's (WWII) Reuniting Ceremony

Such pure joy from 94-year-old Chicagoan TEC5 Emanuel Mark when he received his purple heart and other WWII medals from Purple Hearts Reunited INC. in a private gathering at his residence on Saturday, August 2, 2014.

TEC5 Emanuel Mark receiving his purple heart with Captain Zachariah Fike of Purple Hearts Reunited.

PVT Thomas Bateman's (KIA in WWII) Reuniting Ceremony

This was a truly amazing event that gave the Bateman family many answers.  It included full military honors and was a large gathering of family, friends, Chicago Genealogical Society members, veterans groups, the local press and even a member of Illinois State Senator Michael Hastings' office.  
Pictured are U.S. Army COL Paul J. Hettich, Tom McAvoy, U.S. Army SSG John G. Trinca, Thomas Bateman Jr., and Captain Zachariah Fike of Purple Hearts Reunited.

Read this remarkable story of how three men's experience came together thru Purple Hearts Reunited to give a son and a veteran the answers they've been seeking for 69 years (stories below listed in reverse chronological order).

The Chicago Genealogical Society also encourages all families to:
  1. Make provision in your Will for who will inherit your military medals and family heirlooms, including your genealogical records.
  2. Request Your U.S. Veteran Relative’s Replacement Documentation & Purple Heart Medal
If you'd like to see a couple examples of previous Purple Hearts Reunited ceremonies, we recommend watching:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Forensic Case Study: Calumet Baking Powder Co." [Part 2]

Part 2 of 3 "Forensic Techniques for Dating a Photo"

A Case Study Response to 

"Research Q & A: Calumet Baking Powder Co."

   Blog article requesting help published on 04 May 2014

By Marsha Peterson-Maass

How I Used Traditional Research + Forensic Techniques to Find Answers

This three-part blog article is in response to the 04 May 2014 post where Karen and Luann, two Chicago Genealogical Society members, asked for help to identify the date, purpose and individuals in this Calumet Baking Powder Company employee photo (below).  It explores how a genealogical researcher can find answers by defining objectives that lead to formulating a research strategy, then using traditional research along with forensic techniques to narrow in on the facts.

Using Forensic Techniques to Date the Photo

What if I hadn't found the 1926 Founders Book for Calumet Baking Powder Company (CalumetBPC) [see Part 1 published on 28 June 2014] What Forensic Techniques could I use instead to date the photo?  I'll start by plotting the "date-able" elements of the photograph on a spreadsheet timeline by year to narrow in on the date (or date range) that would apply to ALL of the elements.  Here's a list of the "date-able" elements I'll be gathering to plot on the spreadsheet:
  • "Known Information" - What the CGS member photo submitters, Karen and Luann, knew about their two relatives who worked at CalumetBPC for a short time.
    • Identities of Their Two Relatives Who Worked at CalumetBPC
    • Dates They Know Their Relatives Worked There
    • Two Relatives' Ages by Year
    • Two Relatives' Life Events by Year
    • Two Relatives' Chicago Residences by Year
  • Map - To confirm the photo's location and to compare the buildings and other observable landmarks about six months prior to the map's publication date.
  • American Men's and Women's Clothing Styles - Comparing the clothing seen in the photo to American fashion styles of the 1900's, 1910's and 1920's.

Working With The Two CGS Members

I couldn't have asked for two more helpful clients than Karen and Luann!  They told me they had the happy fortune to have inherited much genealogical information since their relatives "kept everything" and it was just a matter of going thru the materials to find answers.  I asked them many questions in order to gather the "Known Information" elements listed above and here is what they supplied:

Their two relatives who worked at CalumetBPC were sisters, Anna Josephina Barrath (b.11 March 1892 in Chicago; m.16 June 1923 to Joseph Dudley Goggin in Chicago) and Emma Olivia Barrath (b.09 April 1900 in Chicago; m.09 May 1925  to Francis "Frank" Asay in Chicago).  Below is a 1920 photo with Emma on the far left and Anna on the far right.
Barrath sisters, 1920 image
Photo graciously supplied by CGS Members, Karen and Luann. 

After finding the CalumetBPC photo, Karen and Luann first became aware that Anna had worked there when they came across a WWI love letter that Anna received from an admirer asking, "Are you still working at the Calumet Baking Powder yet?"

WWI Love Letter image, Letter graciously supplied by CGS Members, Karen and Luann.

In trying to identify life events that would either help confirm the dates when the sisters worked at CalumetBPC or to exclude them, Karen and Luann found the sisters' 1920 U.S. Federal Census enumeration in Chicago confirming that the sisters both worked there on January 1, 1920.

Emma nurse image
Image graciously supplied by CGS Members, Karen and Luann.

Karen and Luann also found a photo confirming that Emma was a volunteer WWI nurse about 1917.

And Karen and Luann also spent a great deal of time going thru correspondence and other documents to put together a residential timeline by year of where in Chicago the sisters and their mother lived . . . the several addresses before 1929 were all within six miles of the CalumetBPC (at 4100 Fillmore Street, Chicago), confirming that it was feasible for the sisters to travel a relatively short distance to work there.

What A Simple Map Can Confirm

"Maps enhance the background reading of historical places and eras."1  Accurate as of approximately six months prior to the publication date we see this 1921 Chicago Map detailing the CalumetBPC at 4100 Fillmore Street (its only Chicago location).

1921 Chicago Map image. Source: Map of Chicago and Suburbs, 1921 

If you look below at a close-up of the photo's background (right edge) you will see freight train boxcars on a railroad track about 1/2 block away. You can also see an electric power generator next to the building's east side and a single-use utility pole paralleling the train tracks.  According to the 1921 Chicago Map, it appears that the train tracks run thru the CalumetBPC property about 1/2 block north of the factory building so the photographer was standing south of the group and took the photo looking north.
Photo graciously supplied by CGS Members, Karen and Luann
Using American Fashion To Help Give A Date Range To A Photo

"It is a common misconception that the style of dress can lead to the date a picture was taken," says Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD in her book Forensic Genealogy.2  Colleen, by the way, has worked at NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.  She also says that certain fashion styles can indicate a date when the fashion was first introduced so the photo could not have been taken BEFORE that date plus fashion may give a researcher a possible date range.  Newspaper ads from the place and time along with many online sources can help with this type of research.

Before we try to date and place the clothing styles on a timeline by year, take a look at the close-up CalumetBPC employee photo just above, particularly at the men's neckwear, how far the men's vests extend below their necks, the women's hemlines and where the waistlines are sewn on the women's dresses.

The illustrations and photos below show three decades of men's fashion in America.  Bowties and neckties were worn in all three decades.  Now look at the progression of where the suit jackets/vests extended down from the neck . . . in the 1900's they were close to the neck . . . in the 1910's they extended down a bit . . . in the 1920's they extended down even further.  The vests in the CalumetBPC photo appear to be from the 1920's fashions.

Mens Slide 38 image. Source: University of Vermont, Landscape Change Program - Dating Historic

The illustrations and photos below show three decades of women's fashion in America.  Dresses were worn in all three decades.  Now look at the progression of where the hemlines end and the waistlines are placed . . . in the 1900's hemlines extend to the ground and sewn waistlines are very tight around the waist . . . in the 1910's hemlines still extend to the ground and sewn waistlines are still very tight around the waist . . . in the Post-World War I fashion on the 1920's, hemlines are above the ankle (called "ankle skirts") and sewn waistlines are baggy and fall well below the waist (called "boy-shape dresses").  Women's fashions in the CalumetBPC photo appear to be from the 1920's fashions as well.

Womens Slide 39 image. Source: University of Vermont, Landscape Change Program - Dating Historic
Plotting All Of The Elements On A Timeline Spreadsheet By Year

And now the culmination of all of the date-specific elements are shown on the spreadsheet below.  We see the date ranges of when both sisters were old enough to work at CalumetBPC (light yellow), confirmed dates when traditional research shows that they worked there (in red) along with possible dates (light yellow), probable fashion dates (bright yellow) and possible fashion dates (light yellow), life events that had influence and residential addresses that confirm the sisters lived within 6 miles of CalumetBPC.  From plotting all possible and probable dates on a timeline spreadsheet by year, we see the dates where ALL of the elements give a positive result, and we can come to the conclusion that the date the photograph was taken is within the date range of the beginning of 1921 to the end of 1925, with the strongest possibility being around 1925.

Additional Support For The Previous Probable Answer

The timeline date range of the photo using forensic techniques of 1921-1925 (with the strongest possibility being about 1925) supports the previous probable answer that it was probably taken in 1926 or shortly before [see Part 1 published on 28 June 2014].  Unfortunately, it can't support the previously determined probable reason that the photograph was taken - to be used in the 1926 CalumetBPC Founders Book.

Dating A Photograph . . . On Steroids!

If you're interested in several other techniques for dating photographs, the book Forensic Genealogy shows how to date objects in the background, date the photo paper/style itself and how to measure outdoor shadows to indicate two possible days of the year that the photo could have been taken based on the Spring and Fall Equinox.  Really!

More About This Case Study
  • Case Study Response - Part 1 of 3 "Traditional Research Methods" published 28 June 2014
  • Upcoming Case Study Response - Part 3 of 3 "Forensic Techniques for Individualization"
1 Melinda Kashuba, Walking With Your Ancestors (Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.: Family Tree Books, 2005), 5.

2 Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD, Forensic Genealogy (Fountain Valley, California, U.S.A.: Rice Book Press, 2005), 20.