The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 21, 2013

Website lists names’ abbreviations


First names are often abbreviated in historical records, and often lead to inaccurate interpretations and possible errors. While it is usually preferred that abbreviations be transcribed the way they are found (for example, do not change a “Jn” to “John” when copying a record), it can be helpful to be aware of what an abbreviation may stand for.

Genealogy in Time Magazine has compiled a helpful list of first name abbreviations at The list may be helpful when searching census records or other historical documents.


Nicknames can add to the challenge of interpreting given names. A project of the USGenWeb provides a helpful online list (free) of common male and female nicknames. Visit http://usgenweblorg/research/nicknames.shtml to read/download this informative list.

WWI draft cards

FamilySearch continues to add to its free records online, including additional World War I draft registration cards from 1917-1918. This index can be searched by name, and a typical record also provides address, date of birth, race, citizenship, occupation, employer, height, hair and eye color, and name and address of next of kin.

It has been suggested that a search should be made even if an ancestor did not serve in that war because records of many men in their 40s completed the registration cards.

Three registrations were made between 1917 and 1918. The first was held on June 5, 1917, for men between 21 and 31. The next was held June 5, 1918, for men who turned 21 since the previous registration. The third registration started Sept. 12, 1918, for men between 18 and 45.

The index is still being created but is more than 88 percent complete. The draft registration cards are part of Record Group 163, Records of the Selective Service System (WWI), 1917-1939, and are National Archives Microfilm publication M1509. To access this database, visit

Website expands

The Genealogy Trails History Group was created in 2000 to gather information for Illinois researchers. Since then, volunteers have added materials for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. From the homepage at there are links to categories such as African American data, maps, military data, research aids, and much more. A link to any state’s page provides a brief state history, state facts, links to county pages, plus other content that varies by state. County pages may include biographies, vital records, cemeteries, newspaper obituaries, military information, etc.

For example, the Illinois data includes information on Illinois state mental hospitals as provided by the Illinois State Archives. Records are defined for state hospitals in Jacksonville, Chicago, Elgin, Anna, Kankakee, Chester, Peoria, Alton, Dixon, Manteno, Galesburg, Tinley Park and the Western Hospital for the Insane. “Access to some of these records is restricted according to the provisions of the Mental Health Code and the State Records Act of 1937 as amended.”

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing