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Meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM (Central)

(no meetings in July, August, or December)

Members can access the recordings and handouts from past meetings HERE
Download the 2023 FVGS Program Schedule – Coming Soon

ONLINE-January 12, 2023 Meeting: How to Use Social History in Genealogy Research & Why You Should by Lisa Lisson

Lisa Lisson headshot

If your genealogy research is stuck or you’ve “lost” your ancestor, stop actually looking for that particular ancestor. Instead, turn your attention to the events happening around them and the social issues that could have been influencing their life and the decisions they made. Understanding the answers to questions about social history gives us better insight into the lives our ancestors lived.

Lisa Lisson is the genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin?, a website where she has helped genealogy researchers around the world learn how to search for and find their ancestors. Through hundreds of genealogy blog posts, YouTube videos and online masterclasses, she shares research strategies and how-to tutorials to take the overwhelm out of genealogy research.  Find her at

ONLINE-February 9, 2023 Meeting: What the Heck Does That Say?: The Challenge of Difficult Handwriting by Pam Vestal

Pam Vestal headshot

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in genealogy is the seemingly illegible handwriting in our ancestors’ records.  Whether you struggle to navigate colonial penmanship that doesn’t even look like English or wrestle with contemporary documents that are poorly written, a few good strategies can make all the difference.  We’ll look at more than 20 techniques to help you figure out what the chicken scratches on the page say as well as what the style of writing might reveal about our ancestors.

Pam Vestal is a professional genealogist and speaker who turned her focus to her longtime love of genealogy after a 20-year writing career. Her articles have appeared in the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, FGS’s Forum magazine, and the National Genealogical Society Magazine, and her lectures take her from coast to coast.  Pam specializes in conducting genealogical research and then transforming that information into illustrated stories that even non-genealogists can enjoy.


ONLINE-March 9, 2023 Meeting: Handwriting Humdingers! Moderated by Laura Kovarik

Laura Kovarik headshot

Do you have a document with a word or phrase you just can’t figure out? Join us as we tackle YOUR handwriting humdingers. We will use what we learned at the February meeting and the power of the crowd to decipher your confounding sample. Have you successfully deciphered a hard-to-read line or word? Tell us how you did it!

INSTRUCTIONS: If you would like help with one of your samples or would like to share a success, please submit your request using this Google Form. For help deciphering a word or phrase, include the entire page or document and indicate the portion you would like help reading. Be sure to complete all the requested information as noted on the form, including the relative associated with the item, the date, source, and language. To share a success, you only need to send an image of the word or phrase.

Laura Kovarik has been involved in genealogy for more than 25 years, including leadership and educational positions at the local and state levels. Laura has enhanced her genealogical education through conferences, institutes, and study groups. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists as well as the National Genealogical Society, Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS), and other local genealogical and historical societies, including Fox Valley Genealogical Society. Her writing has appeared in Fox Tales and The Quarterly.

Laura’s areas of interest include the 1950 US Census, Norwegian research, and creating timelines to assist with genealogical research. Her current project is using ephemera to document the social life of an ancestor in the late 1880s Chicago.


IN-PERSON-April 13, 2023 Meeting: Unusual Places to Find Births and Naturalizations by Debra Dudek

Widen your search for birth dates and locations as well as naturalizations from a variety of underutilized resources such as military rosters, consulate applications, voter registrations, canceled passports, frakturs, and much more. This lecture focuses on both digital and physical resources, so bring your research checklist and see if these resources can help you fill in the gaps in your family tree.

Debra M. Dudek is Head of Adult and Teen Services at the Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook, IL. She holds a postgraduate certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Ms. Dudek is the Book Review Editor of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, a board member of the Illinois State Historical Society, and the author of the World War I Research Guide: Tracing American Military and Non-Combatant Ancestors.

IN-PERSON Meeting Location:
Naperville Municipal Center – Room B (Lower Level)
400 S Eagle St, Naperville, IL 60540

IN-PERSON-May 11, 2023 Meeting: Finding Ancestors in the Land of Lincoln by Dr. David Joens

The Illinois State Archives was established in 1921 and is housed in the Margaret Cross Norton building in Springfield, IL. The State Archives serves as the depository of public records of Illinois state and local governmental agencies which possess permanent administrative, legal, or historical research values. Its collections do not include manuscripts, newspapers, or other nonofficial sources. The Director of the Archives, Dave Joens will give an overview of the available records and discuss how they can assist genealogists looking for family records in Illinois.

David Joens is the Director of the Illinois State Archives, the state agency that is responsible for the preservation of historic Illinois state and local government records. He is a fifth-generation resident of Illinois, an army veteran, and a former newspaper reporter for the Sun Newspapers in Lisle and Naperville. Joens received his Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, two Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and a doctorate in Illinois history from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He is the author of three books on Illinois history and government, including “From Slave to State Legislator: John W. E. Thomas, Illinois’ First African American Lawmaker,” published by SIU Press.

IN-PERSON Meeting Location:
Naperville Municipal Center – Room B (Lower Level)
400 S Eagle St, Naperville, IL 60540

TBD-June 8, 2023 Meeting: Details Coming Soon

TBD-September 14, 2022 Meeting: Details Coming Soon

TBD-October 12, 2022 Meeting: Details Coming Soon

TBD-November 9, 2022 Meeting: Details Coming Soon

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