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Family history research made easier

Updated: November 5, 2012 11:27AM



There are a lot of colorful trees this time of year, and colorful could certainly describe many family trees. How very fitting it is that October is Family History Month.

Numerous upcoming programs will offer assistance to those who want to start researching or documenting their family history, as well as those who are experienced in genealogy research but may be stuck on a branch, or who want to learn about the new resources coming available online.

† A beginner’s genealogy workshop will be taught from 6:15 to 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Hebron Public Library, 201 W. Sigler St., by Larry Clark, head of the Porter County Public Library System Genealogy Department.

“The workshop will inform people of the resources available within the Porter County Library and at branches, or even at other libraries and other sources. These workshops inspire people who want to start finding information about their families, and let them know how much is out there, what’s online, what you can access from home, and the kinds of information available elsewhere,” explained Emily Sutton of the library system’s genealogy staff.

“Just this year the 1940 census became available. New information comes online all the time, but only about 10 percent is available online, so Larry will talk about books and records that are available, where to access them, and encourage people to look at the books as well.”

The Porter County Library System offers a beginner’s workshop about every two months at different library branches. The main library, at 103 Jefferson St. in Valparaiso, has a genealogy department with staff on hand to offer assistance with your search.

† Researching Your Family History will be presented at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum, 2405 Indiana Ave./U.S. 35, by county historian, Fern Eddy Schultz.

“We’ll start out with how to organize your research, we’ll go through our research area and discuss what we have here, and we’ll touch on resources available at the library, the courthouse and online,” said Eddy Schultz.

“I’d urge people to come even if they’ve been at this a long time because new things come out all the time as documents are being digitized and put online. There is so much out there that wasn’t there five years ago, or even one year ago. Some of these things can be accessed online from home, but others require a subscription to access, which many libraries have.”

This program is free with museum admission ($6 for adults, $5 for seniors older than 60, $3 for children), but reservations are required by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 10 by emailing feschultz@laportecountyhistory.org or calling 324-6767. Donations are accepted to help cover the cost of program handouts.

† Chicago’s Newberry Library claims to have “one of the strongest genealogy research collections in the nation.” The Newberry is offering three free programs to celebrate Family History Month: “Genealogy and Local History Orientation” at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6; “Old-fashioned Genealogy Meets the 21st Century” from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13; and “DAR Look-ups” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, in which a Daughters of the American Revolution member will search their database for information on your ancestors who may have served in some capacity during the American Revolution.

The Newberry Library is a renowned independent research library, which is open to the public, and also offers many programs, events, and free exhibitions. The Newberry is at 60 W. Walton St., Chicago, about one half mile from the Water Tower. Go online to www.newberry.org or call (312) 943-9090.

† Outside of the workshops, both Sutton and Eddy Schultz expressed the benefit of speaking with family members and getting information, especially from aging family members.

Eddy Schultz added that oral histories are great, and it’s relatively easy to make audio or even videos of family history conversations. She also recommended putting names and dates on the back of family photos because these details, though obvious today, will fade in the future.



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