Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get started with genealogy?

The library owns a number of books for beginners, such as this one, but for instant gratification, you can take a look at the advice on this site.


I missed your walking tour.  Is there a script I can read?

I don't write scripts, but I have been trying to put some of the information I found onto the popular websites Find A Grave and WeRelate.  WeRelate is a wiki, meaning multiple people can work on a particular entry, so if you have pictures or information about the people listed below, feel free to create an account and contribute!  Here are some of the people mentioned on the tours and where you can find more information about them:


James Nichols Walking Tour 5/12/12

James Lawrence Nichols  (Find A Grave, WeRelate, His Autobiography)

Elizabeth Barnard Nichols-Simpson (Find A Grave, WeRelate)


Naperville Cemetery Walking Tour  10/13/12

John Naper (Find A Grave)

Betsey Goff Naper (Find A Grave)

Willard Scott (Find A Grave, WeRelate)

Willard Scott, Jr. (Find A Grave)

Bailey Hobson (Find A Grave)

Clarissa Stewart Hobson (Find A Grave)

Joseph Naper (Find A Grave, WeRelate)

Almeda Landon Naper (Find A Grave)

J.J. Hunt (Find A Grave)

Sylvester Allen Ballou (Find A Grave, WeRelate)

Eliza Norton Ballou (Find A Grave, WeRelate)

George Martin, III (Find A Grave)

Horace Potter (Find A Grave [shell], Find A Grave [actual grave], WeRelate)

Otto Kline (Find A Grave, WeRelate)

Tiny Kline (Find A Grave, Her Autobiography)

James Lawrence Nichols (see above)

Elizabeth Barnard Nichols-Simpson (see above)

Andrew Friedley (Find A Grave, WeRelate)

Augusta Wilhelmina Metzner Friedley (Find A Grave)


Did you know that Boy Scouts can earn a Genealogy merit badge?
Some of the badge requirements and recommended sources are right here at NPL! We have the merit badge book (YA SCOUT) at all three locations.  You can use Ancestry-Library Edition at our Online Database terminals at any of the buildings. It can help you find a grandparent in the United States Census, or, depending on where your family lived, a marriage index that gives dates and birth names. If you’re a second or third generation Napervillian, use our Naperville Heritage Collection to find your ancestor’s home address in local telephone books. Then find the ancestral house in Sanborn Maps!


Is the 1940 Census available yet?

The 1940 Census images are available online free of charge on a variety of sites:  FamilySearch, The National Archives, and to name a few.  The National Archives has a page that can help you determine an enumeration district (ED), including a tool that will convert a 1930 Census ED to a 1940 Census ED.
However, indexing is complete for our subscription database, Ancestry--Library Edition.  Furthermore, it contains city directories published between 1935 and 1945 for several states--California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont--plus New York City. Stop on by any of our locations and make your 1940 search efficient and effective.


How do I find 1930 U.S. Census information in Heritage Quest?
Because of its incomplete indexing, the most recent census returns are not completely searchable in Heritage Quest. If you know an exact address, browsing is one method. A better option for work at home is:
1.    In, go to All Record Collections near the bottom of the page.
2.    Search All Record Collections by “United States Census, 1930” and go to that collection.
3.    Select this census and search.
4.    Open the desired index record.
5.    Note the Enumeration District (ED) number, NARA Publication and Roll number, Sheet Number and Letter, and, if needed, Line Number. (Some portions of the FamilySearch index do not correspond: Family number, Film number, Digital Folder Number, and Image Number.)

If the information in the FamilySearch index does not suffice,        
1.    Log in with your Naperville Public Library barcode number to access databases.
2.    Open HeritageQuest and select Search Census.
3.    Select the 3rd tab, Find By Page Number.
4.    Choose the Series. Its number begins with the date.
5.    Type in the Roll Number.
6.    Into Page, type in the Sheet Number without the letter following. The letter corresponds to the image, i.e., B is the second image.


How can I find my family's coat of arms?

Actually, coats of arms weren't issued to families, they were issued to individuals.  It may be possible that you had an ancestor with a registered coat of arms, but that doesn't mean that anyone with the same family name or even people in the same lineage have the right to use it.  For an in-depth explanation, check out this article by Dick Eastman.