The Illinois State Genealogical Society’s (ISGS) website offers a new search feature free to everyone — members and non-members. The new IL Combined Name Database contains ancestor names in three ISGS databases: ISGS Military Certificates, ISGS Prairie Pioneer Certificates, and Illinois Conference of the Evangelical Church Records, 1837-1937. Thus, a one-step search can be made for ancestors’ names (first or last name) in these three records sets.

Visit and click “Free Databases & Indexes,” and “IL Combined Name DB.” Enter a name, click “perform search,” and then click the action icon for more details.

ISGS plans to add more to this “unified search.”

Lady Liberty turns 135

It was on October 28, 1886, that the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York City’s harbor—a gift from France to the United States. This 305-foot statue “was often the first glimpse of the United States spotted by immigrants arriving by sea.” Read more of this impressive statue in the MyHeritage Blog at

Did any of your ancestors pass through New York on their way to live in America? Perhaps you’ll want to search Ellis Island records. Stephen P. Morse has developed an easy method for researching Ellis Island records as well as other resources. An overview of his One-Step website method (using a case study of Irving Berlin’s record) can be found at This website also provides links to Morse’s other One Step tools and how to use them. Researchers would be wise to study this website!

Lawsuit claims Ancestry violated Illinois privacy

“This is such a seriously silly case that I will be most surprised if the federal court doesn’t dispose of this in short order.” Obviously, Judy Russell (“The Legal Genealogist”) doesn’t think much of this claim against Ancestry. News of the suit was reported at Russell’s analysis can be read at

House passes bill allowing adoptees access to birth certificates

Under current law in Massachusetts adopted persons born between July 17, 1974, and January 1, 2008, cannot obtain their birth certificates without a court order. House Bill H2294 was recently passed, allowing adoptees access. Now it’s up to the Senate to pass such legislation. Read It should be noted that Connecticut and New York recently passed legislation allowing adoptees to have access to their birth records. Access Massachusetts website, at, has more information.

Searching for a maiden name?

Lisa (“Are You My Cousin?”) Lisson has posted a helpful article on searching for maiden names at Be sure to note the “3 uncommon places to look.”

Learn advanced genealogy skills

The National Genealogical Society has posted an article, “Building Advanced Skills,” at Choose any or all of the 16 suggestions.

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

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