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My Genealogy Is an Open Book

May 13, 2014

I always felt a little cheated that there was not a book already written about my family. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved doing all the research. But when I hit a brick wall, it would be nice to open up a book and find all the answers inside. One day I found a book right here in the library that had some of the answers that I had been looking for.

I had been researching an ancestor who lived in New York City in the early 1800s. I found a marriage announcement in a newspaper that looked like a good possibility. I was excited until I saw that the bride’s name was Smith. The probability of finding the correct Smith in a city as large as New York City seemed impossible. The newspaper article sat by my computer for days until I thought to Google the name of the minister that married them. For that particular year, he happened to be at the Sands Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Brooklyn. That was the area where my ancestors lived, but it still didn’t help me prove that I had the right couple. I searched the library’s catalog to see what I could find. We had a book titled Old Sands Street Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn, N.Y. on microfilm. Some older books on microfilm have been digitized in one of the Library’s genealogy databases, HeritageQuest Online, so I was able to look at a digital copy of the book from home using my library card. A section at the back of the book listed the church members and gave short biographies about them. Not only was I able to find out that I did have the right couple, but I discovered lots of new family names and dates. The information led me to other books in the library, too. I was able to grow my family tree with some information I found in a book right here in the library. 

What interesting things have you discovered in our books that have helped you grow your family tree?

Jolene C.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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