News from the Reference Desk Category: Genealogy

1950 Census Records Coming Soon!

After a 72 year waiting period, the personal records from the 1950 Census will be made available online to researchers by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on April 1, 2022. The records will also be available at the major genealogy online resources including Ancestry.com, Family Search, and My Heritage. The National Archives’ 1950 Census page is now live and has a lot of information to help you prepare for the actual release of the records. NARA will be using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the host for the digitized records. AWS is using optical character recognition (OCR) technology to digitally index the records. However, this indexing will not be 100% accurate so NARA is seeking volunteers to help submit name updates. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch will also be using similar technology to create initial automated indexes. FamilySearch is asking for volunteer indexers as well. If you are interested in helping with this project, please go to their 1950 Census website.

You will also be able to search the 1950 Census by location. To do this you will need to know the Enumeration District (ED) number. The enumeration district was an area that could be canvassed by a census taker within a certain time period. It is possible to get an enumeration district number if you know a family’s address in 1950. Once you have an address you can go to the Unified 1950 Census ED Finder website prepared by Stephen Morse. At this site, you can enter the city, state, and county of the location you are seeking and add the address. You will be able to narrow the number of ED districts that appear by adding the cross streets of the location. Armed with the ED number you will be able to go to the 1950 Census records and just search in this enumeration district. This process is more time-consuming than searching by name but the option will be helpful especially if your family’s record does not appear using the name search function.

In 1950 the Mount Prospect area was more rural than it is today with a population of just 4,009. There were two enumeration districts covering this area. The portion of Mount Prospect which was in Elk Grove Township (south of Central Road) was in ED 16-257 and 16-258. The portion of the village in Wheeling Township (north of Central Road) was in ED 16-259. If you have relatives who lived in Mount Prospect then and whose records do not come up by the name search, you can look through the listings in these enumeration districts.

There are several videos on YouTube which discuss the 1950 Census and how to search it. One of them was prepared by Stephen Morse. In this video Morse discusses the 1950 Census and the location search process in depth.

If you would like some assistance in preparing for the release of these records or help searching the 1950 census once it is released, please contact genealogy librarian Anne Shaughnessy to set up a reference appointment.

1950 Census Enumeration District map showing Mount Prospect north of Central Road

Preservation Week 2021

vintage and antique photos and docuomentsAn initiative of Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures which is a division of the American Library Association, Preservation Week (April 25-May 1, 2021) highlights what libraries and individuals can do to preserve our personal and shared collections. The American Library Association webpage for this event guidelines for how to preserve items in personal collections (photographs, audio recordings, films, textiles) and webinars which give additional information about preservation issues. The University of Illinois Library also has information and webinar links on its Preservation webpage.

The Mount Prospect Public Library has several books in its collection which can help individuals care for their own treasures. Two of these are An Ounce of Preservation by Craig A. Tuttle and Windows on the Past: Identifying, Dating and Preserving Photographs by Diane V. Gagel.

If you would like to contact a professional conservator for advice about an item in your personal collection, check out the Find a Conservator Portal offered by the American Institute for the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works.

New Web Resource: HeritageHub

I am happy to announce that Mount Prospect Public Library now offers to its patrons a new genealogy resource. HeritageHub provides access to hundreds of years of obituaries and death notices from thousands of newspapers across the United States. This one-of-a-kind collection helps patrons and family historians uncover new family members and understand family relationships on a deeper level than ever before. HeritageHub feature comprehensive coverage from all 50 U.S. states and territories, original obituary images from historical newspapers, hard-to-find digitized content from mid-to-late 1900s, and new records added daily.

Using Ancestry Library Edition from Home

family tree clip artGood news for genealogists and family historians!  ProQuest, the company which makes Ancestry Library Edition available to library patrons, is continuing to allow researchers to access ALE from home until June 30, 2021.  Ancestry Library Edition is the library version of the commercial Ancestry.com database. Mount Prospect card holders can access the Ancestry Library Edition database by going to the Library’s Web Resources page either in the Library or at home.  If you are at home you will first need to enter your library card number and PIN (usually the last four digits of your phone number) in order to get to the full list of resources.  Ancestry Library Edition is at the top of the alphabetical list.

Please know that you can contact the Library’s Research Services Desk by phone, chat or email if you have any questions as you use the database.  The genealogy librarian is also available to chat or to set up a Reference by Appointment session to discuss Ancestry Library Edition or another genealogical research issue you have.

Help for the Family Historian

family tree clip artWinter is a good time for working on compiling your family tree.  Since many of us are staying inside these days because of the pandemic and the colder weather, use this time to gather your family papers, delve into the many online resources available to genealogists, and reach out to family members during those holiday Zoom calls.  There are many ways to get help with this process if you are just beginning, have hit the inevitable “brick wall,” or just need some encouragement to continue the process.

The Mount Prospect Public Library offers an large collection of genealogy resources in print and online.  Click here to access the print genealogy collection.  Many of these books can be checked out.  Just put a book with the prefix GS in front of the call number on hold.  When you get an email message that the book is ready for you, you can then make a parking lot pickup appointment on line or by calling the library.  MPPL offers many online genealogy databases for use by Mount Prospect Public Library card holders.  You can see what is available here.  Click on the category “Genealogy” to narrow the list to those most helpful for family history research.  You will need to enter your library card number and PIN to access the resources from home.  Please note that Ancestry Library Edition is available for searching from home until March 31, 2021. The genealogy librarian Anne Shaughnessy is available to discuss your genealogy research with you.  You can call the library at 847-253-5675 to speak with her or set up a virtual Reference by Appointment.

Sometimes it is helpful to meet with others who are also compiling their family trees.  There are two organizations in our area which have meetings and host speakers on genealogical topics.  They are the Northwest Suburban Genealogy Society and the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI).  Check the websites of NWSGS and CAGGNI for information about their upcoming meetings including their “members helping members (and non-members)” sessions.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City hosts a massive collection of genealogical information managed by an expert staff and skilled volunteers.  Now that staff is available to help you with your genealogical research during free 20 minute consultation sessions.  Please use the FamilySearch Research Wiki to schedule a consultation.  Sessions can be conducted in English or Spanish.  The scheduling app provides schedule information in the guest’s own local time to simplify making the connection across time zones.

Searching for one’s family history can be a challenging endeavor.  Getting help from others is part of that process.  May the resources mentioned here lead you to some intriguing stories!  Best wishes for success with your research.