October is Family History Month. It’s time to celebrate your unique ancestry and consider all the people who came together to make you you. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about your family’s past, now is the perfect time. If you’re unsure of where to begin, the library has tons of resources to help you get started.
The first step is to collect information about your parents and grandparents. What are their names? Who are their siblings? Often, you can gather these facts from older relatives. You can also learn a lot from old family photos.
Next, you’ll need to find out about important dates, such as birth and death dates. Approximate dates should be enough to get you started, but it's even better if you can find exact dates. One way to gather these dates is to dig through family keepsake boxes to look for newspaper obituary clippings. Obituaries are a gold mine of information. They often list the names of parents, siblings, spouses, and children, along with birth and death dates. Sometimes they even include marriage dates. You could also use a free online tool such as Find A Grave to help narrow down those important dates.
If your family is from Burlington County, search the index of birth, death, burial and marriage announcements on the libraries genealogy page. After you find the article in the index, head over to the Burlington County Library to view the full piece on microfilm. Make sure to scan the surrounding pages of the newspaper. You never know what other interesting tidbits you could discover in the rest of the paper.
Make your search even easier by checking online database such as Ancestry. You can find photographs, newspaper articles, ship manifests, census records and birth and death records while you fill in your digital family tree. Another benefit of Ancestry is that the website will show you record hints based on the information you already have. Best of all, you can access it for free from any BCLS public computer!
Ready to get started? The Bordentown Library is hosting an Ancestry tutorial for beginners on November 15 at 2 pm.
You never know what interesting facts your research will uncover. One of your ancestors might even have made history!