"This book is significantly different from many of the books I have reviewed over the years. Most books that are billed as a guide to genealogy research in a particular location are simply lists of where records may be located. . . . This book also contains hundreds of suggestions, finer points, and other tips of use that go far beyond simple lists. . . . Author Grace DuMelle is well qualified to write a book on Chicago genealogy. . . . An excellent resource for anyone researching in the area." —Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
"Reveals the wealth of documents available for those with Chicago ancestors and how to research them. With many black and white illustrations, author DuMelle covers everything from birth records to burial spots, including address, ethnic and occupational research, websites, Chicago-area research facilities, and tips on how to use microfilm and microfiche machines." —Family Chronicle
“Though the book is aimed at the Chicago research beginner, the author promises and delivers some surprises for the more experienced researcher. Professional genealogists who work with clients who have Chicago-area or Cook County, Illinois, roots will find this book worth the space it takes on their shelves.” —Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly
“The tone is conversational and the instructions are clear. . . . Anyone beginning Cook County research should have this book at hand, and it can serve as a touchstone for experienced researchers.” —National Genealogical Society Quarterly
About the Author
is a family historian at the Newberry Library and the owner of Heartland Historical Research, which offers house histories, oral histories, and aspects of family history such as obituaries and church records. She and her company have been featured in the Wall Street Journal
, the Chicago Tribune
, and Chicago
magazine and on WGN radio. Her clients include the United States Department of Justice, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, and the Niagara Falls Museum in Ontario, Canada.
Fascination with true stories from the past began early for Grace DuMelle. As a child, she heard tales of family connections to the Eastland disaster and the assassination of President McKinley. Several years in Washington, D.C. brought her face to face with pivotal places in the Colonial and Civil War eras.
At what is now Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, Grace studied Chicago architecture under Frances Steiner, author of The Steiner Index to Oak Park building references. She also did extensive primary research in England for an independent study project on Charles Dickens. After graduation Grace became an advertising copywriter, using her writing and investigation skills.
While renovating her husband Walter Podrazika’s family home, Grace hired a specialist to analyze title papers Walter inherited from his grandfather. The conclusion was that the home dated back to the time of the Chicago Fire. This was verified a few years later by the discovery of an 1872 newspaper in the living room wall.
Knowing that other homeowners and institutions would be interested in learning of their past, Grace launched Heartland Historical Research Service (HHRS) in 1995. Working on house histories, she used techniques her father had passed along for finding out about former owners. As her genealogy knowledge grew, she began accepting family history projects, including oral histories—documenting the stories told by senior citizens before that knowledge is lost.
Heartland's projects have taken Grace to libraries and government offices across the Chicagoland area to find answers for clients. Some of Heartland's more notable cases involved finding the original plans for a home in Brookfield, Illinois, in a 1924 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and confirming the characteristics of Mary Todd Lincoln's Chicago neighborhood. HHRS has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Southtown and on WGN radio. Past clients include the United States Department of Justice, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, the Niagara Falls Museum in Ontario, Canada, and Graystone Communications in North Hollywood, California (parent company of The History Channel).
At the beginning of 2001, Grace entered into an association with the Newberry Library, one of the country's foremost humanities libraries, in their Local & Family History section. She guides patrons through the many resources there and frequently lectures on the Newberry's genealogical holdings.
Traveling and exploring are Grace's favorite pastimes. She relaxes with P.G. Wodehouse stories and nature walks.