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The Fox Valley Genealogical Society (FVGS) holds 9 monthly general meetings (some in person, some online) on the 2nd Thursday, September through June (except December) at 7:30 PM in the Naperville Municipal Center (NMC), 400 South Eagle, Naperville, Illinois. Be sure to park in the lower-level parking area for easy building access. Here’s a map to locate the Naperville Municipal Center (i.e. Naperville City Hall). Enter the lower-level parking from either Eagle Street or Webster Street.

FVGS extends a cordial welcome to newcomers to visit our meetings and consider joining our Society. New, exciting contacts may be made and important information may be obtained during the informal socializing after the general meetings. Come meet new friends!

ONLINE-What the Heck Does That Say?: The Challenge of Difficult Handwriting by Pam Vestal, February 9, 2023 7:00 PM (Central)

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-How to Use Social History in Genealogy Research & Why You Should by Lisa Lisson, January 12, 2023 7:00 PM (Central)

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



IN-PERSON-They Lived Where? Tips for Researching Locations by Laura Kovarik, November 10, 2022 7:00 PM (Central)

Laura Kovarik headshotOnce you have identified the location for a family event, you have an opening to create a rich, detailed life portrait for your ancestor. Location research allows genealogists to learn the details surrounding their family, helping to give context and understanding to their lives. We will take a look at location research across time, learning what to do when you recognize the place and especially when you don’t!

Laura, a former FVGS President, has been involved in genealogy for more than 20 years. Laura was an Illinois State Genealogical Society President and has been a member of the ISGS Governing Board for many years. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with degrees focused on historic preservation and land use/environmental planning. Laura worked for 13 years as a math tutor for grades 1-9. Areas of genealogical research include Norway, Canada, France, Bohemia, and Sweden. Part of Laura’s family was in Chicago prior to the fire in 1871. Her Illinois research focuses on Cook, Kane, McHenry, and Kankakee counties.

ONLINE-The Illinois Poisoner by Dean Jobb, October 13, 2022 7:00 PM (Central)

Dean Jobb headshot

Dean Jobb will speak about his book The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer. Before Jack the Ripper, before The Devil in the White City’s H.H. Holmes, the world’s deadliest serial killer was the Canadian doctor Thomas Neill Cream. Between 1877 and 1892 he murdered ten people — nine of them vulnerable young women — in Canada, the United States, and England. Learn more about the four murders he committed in the Chicago area in the early 1880s and how the Illinois justice system failed to stop him.

Dean Jobb is an author, journalist, and a professor at the University of King’s College in Nova Scotia, where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program. The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream, was longlisted for the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and received an honorable mention in the Chicago Writers Association’s Nonfiction Book of the Year awards. His book Empire of Deception, the story of 1920s Chicago con man Leo Koretz, won the Crime Writers of Canada award for best true crime book and was chosen as the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year. Dean writes the monthly true crime column “Stranger Than Fiction” for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and his features and book reviews have appeared in other major publications.

IN-PERSON-Old MacDonald had a Farm by Tina Beaird, September 8, 2022 7:00 PM (Central)

Farm records can be an insightful tool for understanding your ancestor’s place in the world. Were they wealthy, prosperous farmers or scratch farming to survive? Agricultural census, land records and mortgage books, court records, farm directories, newspapers, and personal ledgers and diaries can each provide an additional layer of insight into your family tree.

Tina Beaird is the owner of Tamarack Genealogy and is also a Genealogy/Local History Librarian at the Plainfield Public Library. Tina lectures extensively on topics including genealogical methodology, military research and archival preservation. She is a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild and the Association of Professional Genealogists as well as First V.P. of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, Board Director for the Northern Illinois Historic League, and the Oswego Heritage Association. She volunteers her time with several historical and genealogical societies across Illinois. Tina has provided research assistance for nearly twenty years and has been researching her family’s history, as time permits, for over thirty years. She is a rabid baseball fan and her and her family have visited 24 out of 30 Major League Ballparks across the U.S.


IN-PERSON-Genetic Genealogy and the Bassett DNA project by Jeffrey Bassett, June 9, 2022 7:00 PM (Central)

Jeffrey Bassett headshoJeffrey Bassett will speak on Genetic Genealogy; the latest technique being used as a tool in genealogical research. He will explain how he got started in genealogy, how DNA testing works, and then will present different case studies from the Bassett DNA project showing how DNA testing has helped in the research of different Bassett lines.

He has been working on Bassett Family genealogy for more than 45 years. His research includes more than 15,000 pages of text covering more than 490 different Bassett lines throughout the world. He started the Bassett DNA project in April of 2002. This project has grown to include more than 250 male Bassetts living in 7 countries around the world making it one of the largest projects of its kind.

The Bassett project was featured in the Spring 2004 issue of “The New England Ancestors” magazine published by the New England Historic and Genealogical Society and titled “A Comparison of Five Early Bassett immigrants”. He has presented the Bassett DNA project to more than three dozen different groups in several states, has appeared on the Milwaukee Wisconsin NBC nightly news, and has appeared on a segment dealing with genetic genealogy in an Illinois newspaper. He also publishes a free Bassett Family monthly newsletter.

He has worked for Packaging Corporation of America in Lake Forest, Illinois for the past 32 years. He is currently Executive Director of Application Development. He lives in Mundelein, Illinois with his wife of 39 years.

*ABOVE PHOTO: A picture of Jeffrey Bassett with a portrait of Isaac Bassett hanging in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. taken in March of 2004 during a special family tour.

IN-PERSON-Issuing Citations That Help “Prove” Your Genealogical Research, by Laura Street Chaplin, May 12, 2022 7:00 PM (Central)

Using Dr. Thomas W. Jones’ book: Mastering Genealogical Proof, as a template and resource, this presentation explores, in a hands-on format, how to build essential citations documenting our sources used.  Learn why citations are so essential, the 5 Ws of citations, how to craft 2-part citations, and details on the various types of citations.  Review basic genealogical underpinnings to understand and implement excellent citations:   These include:  characteristics of good research questions & the 3×3 Evidence Analysis Process (by Elizabeth Shown Mills). Bring your own thoughts and be prepared to talk to your neighbors during this fun approach to issuing your own citations!

Laura Chaplin began researching her family history when she was inspired by a professor at college. Since then, she has spent years researching, attending countless workshops, and traveling across the country on research trips. She is now the owner of Willowtree Research: Family History and Genealogy Services. Laura has a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University, and is a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Genealogical Society. At the Town & Country Public Library in Elburn she was the History & Genealogy Manager and help them to open their Lawrence J. Martin Heritage Center.

ONLINE-Valid and Unsound Assumptions: What Was She Thinking? by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, April 14, 2022 7:00 PM (Central)

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom headshot

It is not uncommon for us to neglect to question our assumptions. Failure to search for evidence to support our assumptions and to critically test evidence can lead to inaccurate conclusions. The search for the deceased husband of Elizabeth Larzelere enumerated in 1820 with four young children leads to unexpected results and to new questions.

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom is a full-time professional researcher specializing in Chicago and Cook County research, forensic genealogy, problem solving, and multi-generational family histories. On behalf of the Department of the Army, Jeanne searches for and identifies family members of unaccounted for servicemen from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Jeanne researched the Chicago ancestry for many episodes of the television series, Who Do You Think You Are? and appeared in the Jason Sudeikis and Julie Bowen episodes. Jeanne lectures frequently at conferences, workshops, and institutes and writes articles for scholarly journals and society publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts [History] from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a second-year certificate from the University of Chicago’s publishing program. She is a former president and former treasurer of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

ONLINE-Genealogy Show & Tell by FVGS Members & Guests, March 10, 2022 7:00 PM (Central)

Do you have a special family artifact that led you to seek discoveries about your ancestral roots? Did you discover a document or a photo that helped you solve a brick wall? Do you have a cherished heirloom that tells part of your family history? We’d love to hear about it!

Share the stories behind your treasured heirlooms and artifacts with other genealogy enthusiasts. Members and guests are welcome to participate in our online ‘Show & Tell’ event. Be ready to share your family artifact on camera and take a minute (or three) to tell a story about it. We hope you will join us for this fun and inspiring event!

Show & Tell Meeting Image

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