Databases · Fountaindale Public Library District · Genealogy Club · Technology Tools · Workshops and Events

Using Try-It! Illinois for Genealogical Resources – Wisdom Wednesday

The best stuff in life is free, but it may only be available on a trial basis.

If you’re an Illinois resident with internet access of any kind, you are eligible to access the immense amount of information available during the Try-It! Illinois Database Trial.  Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, the Illinois State Library, and numerous electronic resource vendors, Illinois residents can sample, evaluate, and utilize resources free of charge.

Every year, I like to highlight several of the databases for genealogical researchers.  This time, however, I would like to gush over one of my favorite databases available on this year’s trial: Historic Map Works.

I worked with Historic Map Works ages ago.  It is a great collection of plat maps, city maps, and atlases.  My previous experiences with the site were lukewarm.  Yes, it was nice to have a map, but then I need to find the time to superimpose the plat map with a current US map via paper.  It made maps for some areas of my research readily available, but then all I had were really nice maps.  I didn’t really have a lot of tools to use them effectively.

Fast forward to this year’s trail.  I finally had time to take a look at this site, and it is AMAZING!  The site offers an Overlay feature which combines the plat map with Google Earth called Historic Earth Basic.  If you’re looking for a super easy way to correlate a historic map with a modern image, you absolutely have to try Historic Map Works!

I was able to find an 1899 Plat Map of Bradish Township, Boone County, Nebraska, where my Dudek ancestors were homesteading 160 acres of land.

dudek farm 1899For years, I was curious if the original house was still there, and the Historic overlay answered my question beautifully.

Frank Dudek Historic Earth


After changing the opacity between the historic 1899 plat map and Google Earth, I discovered the farmhouse is gone, and the land itself is part of a larger farming outfit.  There are few houses which still exist today, but nearly everything in that area is gone.  The school, houses, buildings, and even the town Bradish, which was listed as the place of birth on the WWI draft registration papers of my great-grandfather and his brothers, no longer exists.  No wonder I had a hard time searching for local genealogical societies or historical groups in the area!  It’s Nebraska farming country, and not much else.  On the upside, I have a map, and I have answers.

Next month, I’ll showcase a series of digital newspaper resources available on the trial, such as, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, and 19th Century U.S. Newspapers.

Remember, you only have until November 30, 2014 to enjoy this database.  If you think Historic Map Works or any of the databases on Try-It!  Illinois would be a great addition to your local library’s databases, you will want to call or drop by the library to share your suggestions!

The next Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club Meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 12 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.  Grace DuMelle of Heartland Historical Research Service will present Investigating Chicago Police Ancestors, which will help you find local and online sources for deceased members of the Chicago police force. The program will show you how and when your ancestors joined the police force, where they were stationed, what they were paid, and some of their notable cases. There are special sources as well for those killed in the line of duty.

All Genealogy Club meetings are free and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be served.  For more information on Investigating Chicago Police Ancestors or other Genealogy Club events, please call the Fountaindale Public Library District at (630) 685-4201.

See You At the Library!


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