Stephen Szabados helps connect people with family roots

Stephen Szabados of Palatine has written seven books on genealogical research and Chicago genealogy.| Todd Shields/Sun-Times Media
Todd Shields
tshields@pioneerlocal.com | @tshields19
July 15 6 a.m.

Steve Szabados is a retired project manager. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and a MBA from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois.

He has been researching his ancestors for about 14 years and has traced ancestors back to 1600s New England and 1730’s in Poland, Germany, Bohemia and Slovenia. He has given numerous presentations to genealogical groups and libraries in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. His goal is to share his passion for Family History.

He is a board member for the Polish Genealogical Society of America and is a member of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists and he is also a genealogy volunteer at the Arlington Heights Illinois Library.

He is the author of five books – Basic Genealogy, Write Your Family History, Finding Grandma’s European Ancestors, Polish Genealogy and Deciphering the 1790-1840 U.S. Census Records.

Both are must have books for the beginning genealogist looking for their European heritage. Steve also the genealogy columnist for the Polish American Journal.

GLENVIEW — Stephen Szabados is from Central Illinois, but he probably knows more about know Chicago family histories than your Bridgeport O’Rileys or the Bankowskis of the Polish Triangle neighborhood.

For 14 years he has studied Chicago genealogy, and he’s been sharing knowledge at Midwestern library lectures and in several books on the topic.

On Wednesday night he presented at Glenview Public Library on how to research an array of vital documents on Chicago ancestry often found in church, birth, state, federal and employment records.

“I’m not an expert on Chicago genealogy, but I’ve done a lot of research for Chicago people,” said Szabados, a Palatine resident.

He also is a board member for the Polish Genealogical Society of America and a member of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists.

He advised listeners to use several online databases, such FamilySearch.org, HeritageQuestonline.com and pgsa.com, especially for Polish backgrounds in Chicago.

“Always use databases to narrow down information. There’s way too many names, so knowing around when a person was born can really help,” he said.

He also said early investigation should start with Chicago census records, which were started in 1850.

They contained people’s addresses, occupations, when married, family relationships and if families were literate, among other facts.

Polish church records of parishioners were particularly helpful, he said.

“Because the pastors wanted to make sure members were baptized before marrying. So church records will tell you what towns in Poland these people were baptized in,” said Szabados.

“There are hundreds of church registries in Chicago. The Irish priests just listed names of the married, dates and how much money collected. Polish priest were more strict.”

Some church registries go back to 1833.

Other local sources were archived newspaper obituaries, the Newberry Library in Chicago and several genealogical groups, such as Chicago

Jewish Archives and Index of Chicago Czech obituaries.

Glenview resident Cathy Stout started studying her family after visiting Poland in 1980.

“I got a birth certificate at a church. I want to learn how to organize information and I’m keeping a journal,” she said.

Szabados has traced his ancestors back to 1600s New England and 1730’s in Poland, Germany, Bohemia and Slovenia.

“I loved finding family roots and have found I like talking to people about it and helping them find past roots,” he said.

Some of Szabados’ books are titled “Finding Grandma’s European History,” “Write Your Family History” and “Basic Genealogy.”

He also the genealogy columnist for the “Polish American Journal.”

The Glenview Library at 1930 Glenview Road has a genealogy and local history room.

Steve Szabados is a retired project manager. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and a MBA from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois.

He has been researching his ancestors for about 14 years and has traced ancestors back to 1600s New England and 1730’s in Poland, Germany, Bohemia and Slovenia. He has given numerous presentations to genealogical groups and libraries in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. His goal is to share his passion for Family History.

He is a board member for the Polish Genealogical Society of America and is a member of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists and he is also a genealogy volunteer at the Arlington Heights Illinois Library.

He is the author of five books – Basic Genealogy, Write Your Family History, Finding Grandma’s European Ancestors, Polish Genealogy and Deciphering the 1790-1840 U.S. Census Records.

Both are must have books for the beginning genealogist looking for their European heritage. Steve also the genealogy columnist for the Polish American Journal.

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