News from the Reference Desk Category: Genealogy

Mount Prospect in the News

Events in Mount Prospect over the past 100 years have been documented by a few local newspapers; occasionally the Chicago Tribune would make brief mentions of the village, and the Daily Herald has been a source of Mount Prospect news since 1901.

Two other newspapers were focused just on Mount Prospect. Both papers document life in Mount Prospect during challenging times in history:


From 1932-1942 the Mount Prospect Review covered local events during the Great Depression and early World War II years.
The Prospect Day header
From April 1966 to June 1970 The Prospect Day covered events during a time of great growth and change in Mount Prospect. Digital copies of these newspapers are searchable on the MPPL website.

The Mount Prospect Review and the historical Daily Herald can be searched through the web resource Newspaper Archive. This source is only available in the Library. The Prospect Day was recently digitized and is available on the MPPL website on this page. The Historical Chicago Tribune, Newspaper Archive and Prospect Day can also be accessed by going to the newspapers section of the Web Resources page of the MPPL website.

If you have questions about how to use these resources, please ask for assistance at the Research Services Desk, call the desk at 847-253-5675 or chat online with a librarian.

Cook County Marriage Applications

Cook County Clerk David Orr recently announced a new online feature allowing soon-to-be newlyweds the opportunity to fill out most of their marriage application license information online.  Illinois law requires that before a couple marries, they must appear before the clerk in the county where they will be married to sign and complete their marriage license application and pay the fee ($60 in Cook County).  In the past the couple had to complete the whole process in the Clerk’s office.  Now they can start the process at home by going to this section of the county clerk’s website.  The process will still need to be completed at the Clerk’s office but with the online application feature the time spent there will be less than 10 minutes.  For more information about marriage application procedures and requirements please go online to the Cook County Clerk’s website.

The Cook County Clerk’s office has also made an index of Cook County marriage records 50 years or older available online at Cook County Genealogy Online.  This is only an index.  You must still pay for a copy of the actual record.  For $16.75 you can purchase a copy of the full record online with a credit card and receive the record immediately as a zip file.  Cook County Genealogy Online also includes indexes of Cook County birth records 75 years or older and Cook County death records of 20 years or older.

DNA Tests and Your Family History

The holidays are a time when many families are together to share meals, stories, and special events.  The memories which result can bring both pleasure and pain but form the core of our family histories along with vital documents and other official records.  In recent years DNA tests for discovering family ethnic origins have become more affordable and more available to the average consumer.  There are many companies which offer these tests.  But which one is best for your needs?  What do I do with the results?  How accurate are the results?  A genealogist with 30 years of experience offers some answers in this article.  In the Library’s Harold Weary Genealogy Room there are several books which explain the variety of DNA tests, what the results mean and how to use them to enrich the understanding of our family histories. Books from 2017 include Swabbed and Found: An Adopted Man’s DNA Journey to Discover His Family Tree  and The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy.  The book Genetic Genealogy in Practice from 2016 is considered by expert genealogists to be one of the best sources for understanding how to use DNA results in genealogy. So, when you see those advertisements for DNA tests from Ancestry or 23andMe, consider sending away for the kit.  The Library is here to help as you take this next step towards understanding your family history.

Being Irish

On St. Patrick’s Day it is often said in the United States that everyone is a little Irish. But how many people of Irish descent are there in the United States? An exact figure is a challenge to determine but the United States Census figures project it to be around 33 million. Here is a Census Bureau report issued in 2004 which describes the results of an ancestry question on the 2000 Census. An article from the website Irish Central compares figures from the 2000 Census to those from the American Community Survey in 2014. It also explains why it is difficult to pin down exact figures regarding ethnicity. If you want to see if there is an Irish ancestor in your background, there are resources at the Mount Prospect Public Library which can help. Look through this list of Irish genealogy books in our collection. Investigate the genealogy online resources Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and Find My Past. If you would like some help with this research, please come to the Research Services Desk and set up an appointment with the genealogy librarian or make an appointment online. Whatever your background, wear a little green and have some fun on St. Patrick’s Day!

Tales Told by Found Photographs

The stories of our families are told through  many forms of documents.  Family photographs, however, are unique because they have visually captured moments in time that now only live as memories.  A discarded photograph album lead a writer in New York to the story of black families that lived in the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York City during the middle of the 20th Century.  This writer, Anne Correal, describes the journey she undertook to discover whose photographs they were and how the album was left forsaken on the street.  Her article “Love and Black Lives, in Pictures Found on a Brooklyn Street” appeared in the New York Times in January 2017.  It traces the paths that many African American families took from the Deep South to the North in an event known as the Great Migration. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson is a book in the Library’s collection which also illuminates this event in American history.  There are now also other books and videos on display in the Library which document African American history.  If you are interested in learning more about your own family’s history and managing your own family photographic collections, come talk to our Research Services staff who will help you get started.