Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Genealogy Bug


Once you’re bitten by the genealogy bug, it’s hard to stop. Finding records about your ancestors is like solving an intricate puzzle, and sometimes more questions arise from the information you discover. Why did that branch of the family suddenly change its heritage from German to English? How did my great-grandmother manage to raise nine children and run a boarding house? Why did my great-great-grandfather change his last name to Jones when he left Ireland? Some questions can never be answered, but the fun is in looking, and sometimes finding a clue!

The library subscribes to a genealogy database, HeritageQuest, and I’ll be teaching a class on it June 26, at 10 a.m.  Anyone with our library card can use HeritageQuest from home. It has census records dating back to 1790; city directories, mostly from the 20th century; and several other specialized collections.  If you'd like to sign up for the class, give us a call at 541-265-2153. 

In addition to HeritageQuest, other free databases have a wealth of information. FamilySearch draws from hundreds of sources, and includes copies of birth, marriage, and death ledgers, some census records, ships’ passenger lists, military draft records, enlistment records, and more.

(Click on Images to Enlarge)
World War I Registration Card
I have to give a disclaimer, though; many of the collections are for a limited range of dates, so not everything is available. But what you can find might be just the piece of the puzzle you needed, so it is worth investigating! Within just a few minutes, I found a record of my grandmother's birth, listing her parents' names, address, where they were born, and her father's occupation, along with a copy of a relative's World War I Draft registration, listing his age, hair and eye color, occupation, and current address.  All grist for the genealogist's mill!

Another free site is the Ellis Island website, which lists passengers who entered the United States through Ellis Island. The site is best used by creating a free account. Once you find a record, you can view a small image of it, and zoom in to see parts of it up close. If you want a readable copy, though, there is a fee.
 
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers
These are just a few places to try on your quest to uncover your family roots.  Again, if you'd like to register for the class on June 26, call us at 541-265-2153.

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