Chicago Research Opportunities

Those attending the conference will have many opportunities for conducting research.  The conference hotel, the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, is centrally located so that some of the research sites will be quite accessible. 


Fortunately, a wonderful guide to research facilities in Chicago is available on-line:  Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland, written by Mike Karsen, current president of the JGS of Illinois. It can be found at:  This guide provides information about where to find vital records about individuals who lived in Chicago and where to find more general materials relevant to Jewish genealogical research that may not be readily available in other locales.

We encourage you to use the Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Chicagoland so that you will be prepared before coming to Chicago: 

Another book that we recommend is Chicago and Cook County: A Guide to Research by Loretto Dennis Szucs.  Although not focussed on Jewish Genealogy, this book is an important guide to research in Chicago

If you are interested in the Chicago's Jewish history, here are some suggestions:

For an in-depth coverage of Chicago’s Jewish history, see The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb, by Irving Cutler.   The book includes a chronology, many photos and maps. Anyone with ancestors/relatives from Chicago will find this book worthwhile, since the possibility exists of finding their names in it.

Have you heard of (a) Lazarus Silverman, (b) Julius Rosenwald, (c) Robert Adler (d) Rosa Sonnenschein, or (e) Samuel “Nails” Morton? (**see below for brief answers)? They are a few of the significant Chicago Jews described in a fun-to-read book called Looking Backward:, True Stories from Chicago’s Jewish Past, by Walter Roth. Just a glance at the book’s table of contents shows the important role Chicago's Jews have played not only for Chicago but elsewhere as well: Chicago Jews and the Secular City: Builders, Movers, Shakers; Chicago Jews and Anti-Semitism: Tragedy Abroad, Challenges at Home; Chicago Jews and Zionism: Local Idealists; Chicago Jews and Zionism: Renowned Visitors; Chicago Jews and the Arts: The Page and the Stage; and, Chicago Jews on Both Sides of the Law: Colorful Characters.
And, for those who are trivia buffs, here is a bonus question: Which two IAJGS Board members were born three months apart in Chicago’s Lying-in Hospital?

**Answers: (a) An important financier and banker. (b) Founder of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. (c) Worked to provide numerous affidavits for escape from Nazi Europe. (d) Journalist, feminist and Zionist. (e) Helped protect West Side Jews from outside gangs. Answer to the trivia question: Joel Spector and Anne Feder Lee – in that order, but year will not be revealed…

There is a  very interesting web site where there are many photographs, discussion about what has happened to some of the synagogues and a reference to a book about them: A Walk to Shul: Chicago Synagogues of Lawndale and Stops on the Way, by Norman Schwartz and Bea Kraus, published by the Chicago Historical Society.

Two additional sites, used as sources for this article, where there is information about Chicago’s Jewish history are The Encyclopedia of Chicago on line at (do a search for Jews) and the web site of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago at


Registration for cemetery transportation is now available for those who want to visit  the Chicago area Jewish cemeteries and the non-sectarian cemeteries with Jewish sections .

How to register for cemetery transportion:
---If you have already registered for the conference, go to Registration Update 
---Or, if you have not already registered for the conference, go to Register Now:

When registering for cemetery transportation, please be careful to select the day and time you prefer, as there are multiple trips to most of the cemeteries.  Before registering
for transportation, please carefully read the following:

The transportation will be provided by Continental Air Transportation, the same company that provides shuttle service from and to O'Hare and Midway airports, in ten-passenger air conditioned vans.  The vans will pick up cemetery visitors at the Marriott and transport them to the cemetery office or, if there is no office on-site, the cemetery entrance.  Visitors will be picked up three hours later at the cemetery office or cemetery entrance, as applicable and returned to the Marriott.

For transportation purposes, the cemeteries have been grouped as follows:

South Side 
      Beverly Cemetery
      Evergreen Cemetery
      Knesset Israel Cemetery

West Side
      Jewish Waldheim Cemeteries (including Free Sons of Israel, Silverman &  Weiss, and Waldheim Cemetery Co.)
      Menorah Gardens
      Oakridge and Glen Oak Cemeteries

Northwest Side
      Montrose Cemetery
      Ridgelawn Cemetery (including Beth El Cemetery)
      Rosemont Park (including B'nai Brith, B'nai Jehoshua, Isaiah  Israel, and  Mt. Mayriv Cemeteries)
      Westlawn Cemetery and Mausoleum Association, Inc.

North Side
      Jewish Graceland (including Hebrew Benevolent Society of Chicago and Jewish Graceland and Lakeview Cemeteries)
      Memorial Park Cemetery
      New Light Cemetery
      Rosehill Cemetery

Far North Side
      Shalom Memorial Park and Randhill Park Cemetery

If you don't see a cemetery for which you are looking in the forgoing list, it almost assuredly is a part of one of the cemeteries listed above.  Check the Chicago Metropolitan Area section of the IAJGS Cemetery Project database, which may be found at

The transportation schedule will be as follows:

South Side
Tuesday, August 19 (8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)

West Side
Sunday, August 17 (8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
Sunday, August 17 (10:00 a.m. - 3: 00 p.m.)
Monday, August 18 (8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
Monday, August 18 (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.)
Tuesday, August 19 (8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
Tuesday, August 19 (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.)
Wednesday, August 20 (8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
Wednesday, August 20 (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.)

Northwest Side
Sunday, August 17 (8:00 a.m. - 1: 00 p.m.)
Monday, August 18 (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.)
Wednesday, August 20 (8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)

North Side
Sunday, August 17 (10:00 a.m. - 3: 00 p.m.)
Monday, August 18 (8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)
Wednesday, August 20 (10:00 a.m. - 3: 00 p.m.)

Far North Side
Tuesday, August 19 (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.)

Thursday, August 21, will be reserved as a make-up day in case of  rain-outs.  Trips may be added or deleted based upon demand.  At least one trip will be made to each group of cemeteries.  If demand dictates the cancellation of a trip to a group of cemeteries, the cancellation will be made to the last scheduled trip first.  If a trip for you are registered is cancelled, you will be offered your choice of an alternative trip, if available, or a refund of your reservation fee.

Return trips should arrive at the Marriott by the return times stated above.  Return times are approximate, however, depending on traffic and other factors beyond our control.

The charge for each round-trip is $30.00 per person.  Guests are welcome, even if not registered for the Conference.  Advance reservations are required.

We strongly suggest that those wishing to visit the cemeteries contact the cemeteries NOW to obtain burial locations and, if necessary maps.

Contact information for the cemeteries may be found at

Waldheim Cemetery Company maintains a website at

with a form for requesting burial information on-line.  Please let the cemetery know that you will be visiting the cemetery in mid-August while you are visiting Chicago to attend the IAJGS
International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois has burial information and maps for Beverly cemetery, the Jewish Graceland cemeteries, Westlawn cemetery, and some individual sections of other cemeteries at

Maps for the Jewish Waldheim cemeteries and Oakwoods cemetery may be found at

When requesting burial information, it will help the cemetery if you provide as much information as possible (family name, given name in English and in Hebrew or Yiddish, date of death or burial, names of father and mother, names of persons who may be buried adjacent to the person in whom you are interested).  Please bring the information and any response you receive from the cemetery with you when you visit.  You should not wait to contact the cemeteries, as they may not be able to help you at the last minute.

DISCLAIMER:  The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, the Illiana Genealogical Society, and their volunteers will not be responsible for any accident, injury, illness, or loss whatsoever occurring in a cemetery or in transit to or from a cemetery.

We wish you much success in your genealogical research while in Chicago.