Beginning research on a family tree is exciting, but can also be a bit intimidating. You might find yourself asking questions about which resources to trust, effective ways to organize information, and how to keep moving forward when you’ve reached an impasse. Where do you start? We’ll be addressing some of these topics and more at our first-ever genealogy conference this Sunday and are excited to be presenting a day of expert talks, panel discussions and networking. While registration for the event is full, we appreciate your interest and are planning to offer additional genealogy programming later this year. In the meantime, there are a variety of free resources available to propel you into the world of family history research. Here are just a few to get you started.
A great place to begin is with the library’s subscription to Ancestry Library, which is accessible inside the library. Ancestry Library is a limited version of the subscription-based Ancestry.com, which contains the world’s largest collection of genealogical records and offers access to US, UK, and Canadian census data, US vital records, US military records, US immigration records and more. Built-in organizational tools such as family tree charts, research extract sheets and correspondence records are available for download, as well as a selection of research aids from genealogy experts.
HeritageQuest, a complimentary site to Ancestry that can be accessed in the library or remotely via your library card number, is particularly strong in providing access to primary source material through digitized genealogy and local history books. Here you will find city directories, oral histories and biographical sketches. The database also contains Revolutionary War records and Freedman’s Bank Records, a valuable resource for tracing clues to African American ancestry and researching the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War.
Visit the library’s Newsroom to find the latest issues of Family Tree Magazine, a bi-monthly publication that offers approachable advice to researching your roots for all levels of experience. All but the current month’s issue are available for checkout and contain helpful articles like, “Heritage hacks” and “Six websites to memorialize ancestors.” And while the magazine’s online component consists of some fee-based content, the site offers a free guide to the best genealogy websites, broken down by categories such as “Best genealogy apps and tech tools” and “Best websites for old newspapers.”
If you prefer to listen while you search, you can enjoy a selection of podcasts that focus on all things genealogy related. Ancestral Findings’ Genealogy Gold podcast offers weekly episodes, usually under 10 minutes, on highly focused topics such as “New ways to find maiden names.” Another, Genealogy Gems, provides practical guidance to researchers of all skill levels and also includes interviews with historians, authors and other field experts.
Lastly, be sure to peruse the library’s Genealogy Resources page, which contains curated lists of links to digital libraries, indexes, and state/county archives to support the exploration of your family history. We are happy to help you get started via an in-depth consultation appointment and can point you in the direction of helpful resources, both in print and online.
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