Family history

When my son moved to Philadelphia in November, I remarked casually to some friends that he would be the seventh generation of our family to live in the Quaker City. Faced with doubtful expressions, I pointed out that one of my antecedents, Catherine Baker, was born in Philadelphia in 1731. She is my sixth great-grandmother. Knowing that I’m unlikely to have descended from any Daughters of the American Revolution, one friend pushed and I revealed the source of my knowledge: the library’s genealogy databases.

My personal favorite is Ancestry Library Edition, which requires you to be in the library when conducting research. It is a frequent lunchtime companion. Using the free Ancestry iOS app, I created my family tree, filling in what little I could recall from my parents, who moved out of Philadelphia with my two older siblings in 1949. Particularly helpful in filling in the dots were the Public Family Trees in Ancestry, which is where I learned of Catherine Baker, whose third great-granddaughter, Sophia Gardner, married a guy named Bernard Quinn Jr., the son of Irish immgrants, who was born in Philadelphia in 1870. He was my great-grandfather.

The Public Family Trees were also where I caught the first glimpse of my second great grandmother, Bernard’s mom, Elizabeth Murphy Quinn Campbell, who is pictured above. It’s where I discovered that one group of my ancestors on my father’s side came to Connecticut from England in the 17th century, while my mother’s side came from Ireland, Germany and who-knows-where. I intend to find out the latter soon enough; I’ve purchased Ancestry’s DNA service. While the reviews of Ancestry DNA are decidedly mixed, what I’ve learned for free here at the library has me eager to learn more about where I came from.

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