When you research your genealogy, one of the many great resources is your local library or genealogy research center. Larger libraries usually have dedicated areas for such research; but even smaller ones prove to be useful when used effectively.
This article will explain what you might find in these centers and how to get the most out of them. If – like me – you tend to use these resources for short trips or hours of use, this is really handy.
What is a genealogy research center?
Before we delve into the various ways to optimize learning time, let's briefly introduce the centers themselves. What are they, what happens when you get there.
: A set of records in many libraries, perfect for researching your genealogy. Although larger libraries usually have dedicated areas for such research; even smaller libraries often contain relevant records and information.
The library may contain some or all of the following:
- Birth, death and marriage registration
- Copy of the newspaper
- Telephone and occupation directory
- Street atlas
- Historical photos
Since these records are typically stored on media such as microfilm and CD, related devices are provided to read/print these records. Updated versions of these machines also enable records to be emailed to relevant personnel or saved on a USB drive.
Dedicated research center from
Although these are usually similar to the pedigree part of the main library, there are some nuances. these are :
- They tend to focus on the local and include everything from parliamentary rates to historical newspapers and photo collections.
- They are often composed of volunteers who can help you with research
Usually, I use both types of facilities. The library helps provide basic information, and specialized research centers add color to the lives of my ancestors. Where they work, their lifestyle, etc.
Plan your research journey
As with any study period, some programs have a long way to go to make the most of it. Before going to a local library or research center, please consider the following:
- Print out all the materials you currently have and take them with you. This includes the birth/marriage/death date of the family member you are tracking, a short resume and a copy of the known family tree.
- Compile a list of specific issues. When you first arrive at the center, it's great to be able to pull up a chair and sneak directly. There are a number of questions to ensure you stay focused and be able to work in the area you are tracking.
- Focus on quite a few people. This number will obviously change with the time available to you, but for my own research, I will try to keep the list up to 20 or so.
When you arrive, keep the following in mind:
- Use something that is not easily available elsewhere. If you are going to a research center in a small town, look for information specific to that area. A copy of the local newspaper, old photographs of the area as well as social historical elements [local events such as floods, crimes and accidents]. It is also worth talking to people who run the center because they [in many cases] have lived in the area for a while.
- Find out the exact location of your local website. After a few hours at the research center, you may want to visit local churches, cemeteries/cremation sites, houses and workplaces. Find out where they are and how to get there. In the case of a cemetery/cremation site, the more information about the plot, the better; better.
The ultimate idea of making the most of the library and family tree research center
As you can see, the easiest way to make your research time effective is to plan your trip. A little preparation can really pay off – this can make a big difference when you pay by hour or day.