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British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois

Where and when we meet:

BIGWILL’s meetings are held at:
The Community Church
5714 Broadway St.
(two blocks west of U.S. Route 12)
Richmond, Illinois

10am until noon on the third Saturday of the months of
January, March, May, July, September and November.
Visitors as well as members are always welcome. Refreshments are available for a donation at each meeting.

Getting to the Church On Time (village map)

“A” on the map above marks the location of the Community Church

Marching toward Richmond (area map)

Surrounding Area

Upcoming meeting dates and topics:

See the BIGWILL November-March bad weather meeting cancellation policy near the bottom of this web page

16 January 2016: “Where Does It Say That? Learning to Love Indirect Evidence” will be presented by Chris Staats.
Photo of Chris Staats Direct evidence, the sort of evidence that completely answers a research question by itself, is often scarce. Without any documents telling us exactly what we want to know, how do we identify relationships that might not be stated explicitly, resolve conflicts between records, and arrive at sound genealogical conclusions? By collecting, analyzing, and correlating indirect evidence of course! The Henry McGinnis family of 19th century rural Pennsylvania provides a good example of using mostly indirect evidence to reconstruct a family which left precious little for descendants to work with. This is a pre-recorded webinar, first presented on 25 March 2015.

19 March 2016: “Determining Irish Origins” will be presented by Debbie Mieszala, CGSM.
Photo of Debbie Mieszala

21 May 2016: “Scots-Irish to America” and “English Church Records Since 1538,” two presentations by David McDonald, CGSM.
Photo of David McDonald Lunch will be served between the two talks.


16 July 2016: “Skeletons in Our Closets: Researching a Family Scandal” will be presented by Robin B. Seidenberg.
Photo of Robin Seidenberg Robin B. Seidenberg had heard rumors about an old family scandal involving a great aunt that occurred during the Roaring Twenties in Chicago. The 1920s were a wild time; Chicago was a wild place. Apparently Robin’s great aunts were wilder than most. While Robin expected to find information in Chicago, she was amazed to discover sensational news stories from Aberdeen, South Dakota, to Aberdeen, Scotland, about the notorious murder in which one of her great aunts was involved. Imagine her surprise when she learned that another great aunt, whom she remembered as a very elegant, dignified lady, had had quite a career on Broadway and in Hollywood. Robin will tell the fascinating story of the scandal and explain how she found the information about these beautiful sisters. Discover the identity of the “Kissing Blonde” and learn how Robin researched historical newspapers to unravel this family mystery.

17 September 2016: “Preserving Family Heirlooms” will be presented by Tina Beaird.
Photo of Tina Beaird What are the best ways to preserve priceless family heirlooms from photographs to books to wedding dresses? And even more importantly, what popular storage and display procedures could destroy the very heirlooms their owners wish to preserve? Find out the answers to those questions and more.

16 November 2016: “Scottish Records Sources” will be presented by Maureen Brady.
Photo of Maureen Brady

Handouts from some earlier BIGWILL meetings:
Photo Retouching in Genealogical Research, by Larry L. Pepper (17 March 2012).
Handout (4 pages)
Quaker Family History Research, by Maureen Brady (18 May 2013). Handout (4 pages)
The First Frontiersmen: The Scots-Irish, by Maureen Brady (18 May 2013). Handout (4 pages)
Using National Archives Administrative Records For Genealogy, by Joan Kitchen Murray (16 November 2013). Handout (2 pages)
Being Legal: Citing Sources and Following Copyright Laws, by Ann Wells (15 November 2014). Bibliography (1 page)
Victorian Mourning Customs, by Debra M. Dudek (19 September 2015). Handout (2 pages)
Finding Your UK Criminal Ancestors, by Debra M. Dudek (19 September 2015). Handout (5 pages)

The BIGWILL November-March bad weather meeting cancellation policy

BIGWILL recognizes that occasionally roads may be dangerously icy or snow-covered on our winter-time meeting days. Meetings will only be cancelled if law enforcement advises us of hazardous driving conditions in the Richmond area. We will attempt to have cancellations aired on WGN (AM 720) and other area radio stations, but there is no guarantee. You may check on the meeting status up until 8:45 a.m. on meeting days by calling Prudy Sullivan at (262)523-1539. You can also check this website for last-minute meeting cancellation notices.

What would you like to hear about? What would you like to talk about?

BIGWILL is always on the lookout for program ideas, and Roger Higgs is our chief scout. Have you taken a trip to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man? If so, consider giving a presentation to BIGWILL about what you saw and did. Have you heard a good talk at some other society’s meeting which was related to British Isles research? Or do you just know a topic you’d like to learn more about, even if you don’t know who could give a presentation on the topic? If your answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, help put Roger hot on the trail of another BIGWILL meeting topic. You can contact him by e-mail or in person at almost any BIGWILL meeting. You can make a difference!

Want to be reminded of what programs BIGWILL has had in the past?

Click here to view a listing of all programs from its very beginning through mid-2012.

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This site is maintained by Rollie Littlewood
This page was last modified on 15 January 2016