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Monday, July 18, 2016

You Can Find Genealogy at the Local Public Library

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Pay your local library a visit, and you will find resources that may help you with your genealogy research. It is a great place to learn how to access resources to identify your ancestors. Some of those resources may even be accessible to you right from the comfort of your home.

Introductory resources
If you are a beginner, or the advancements in technology have made you feel like a beginner, stop by the library and check out a book or two that will help you get started. Before you go, call to find out who on staff has the responsibility of helping patrons with their genealogy. It would be wise to visit when this person is available to offer advice.

Also, check out the library’s website to learn which resources are offered. For example, the Montgomery County Memorial Library in Conroe, Texas has the following resources:
  • Family History Month Classes and Presentations 
  • Ancestry (at the library)
  • HeritageQuest Online
  • Obituary Look up Request
  • Online Film Ordering (FamilySearch)
  • Holdings: newspapers, census records, military records, family histories, foreign collection, passenger lists, periodicals, state & country, vertical file, special collections (and more, see Genealogy)
You will find publications to help you learn how to research using the following resources:
  • church and cemetery records
  • vital records
  • newspapers
  • wills and estate records
  • land records
  • military records
Access to resources
Next, choose the record type that you are most interested in. If you are missing information about your ancestor’s birth, marriage, or death, then you will want to find out how to access vital records. The library may have indexes that you can use making it easier to locate original documentation.

Never settle for information on an index or abstract only. Always locate the original record because you will learn so much more. Many resources at the library will be on microfilm or accessible online. If the library does not have the record you need and it is not available online, they most likely will be familiar with resources at the local archives or courthouse and will direct you to them.

If you do not live near the local public library where your ancestor lived, ask for assistance on how to access records in a different area. Often, the library will provide free access to databases so that you can research from afar. Some of them you will be able to access from home.

More advanced research
Vertical file: If you are a more advanced researcher, what other helps should you look for at the library? Well, ask if there is a vertical file, and search for items that organized by surname. Search to see if you can find information on your ancestor’s family, school, church, cemetery, etc.
Genealogical magazines: Browse the indexes of these publications to see if you can find information about your family line or contemporaries of your ancestor.
Maps: Historic maps can reveal the jurisdictions that you ancestor lived before being redistricted. Most likely the old courthouses in these districts did not pass on their records to the new courthouses when the boundaries changed.

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