Discovering your family history can enrich your life in many ways. It can help answer questions about ancestors—perhaps clarify family legends that have been passed down from generation to generation. It can also shed light on important medical history, connect you to new relatives, and even instill a stronger sense of identity. October, designated National Family History Month in 2001, is the perfect time to start this journey of self-discovery, and the Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center is a great place to start.
Whether you’re just beginning or putting the final touches your family tree, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Family History Month. Here are a few:
- Visit the Midwest Genealogy Center.
MGC offers 52,000 square feet of resources and a dedicated and friendly staff to help you with your research! From computers that offer access to top digital research tools, such as Ancestry Library Edition, to microform and hard copies of critical records such as city directories and maps, MGC is the ultimate one-stop shop for family history researchers.
- Use free online genealogy resources to start your search.
Sometimes it’s easier just to sit down at the computer and start searching in the comfort of your own home. The Library offers several online resources that can be accessed with your MCPL Access Pass (Library card) from home including HeritageQuest Online, which offers access to census records, and Fold3 Library Edition, which helps trace the records of those who served in the military.
In addition, Universal Class offers the self-paced Genealogy 101 course, or you can enroll in the six-week, instructor-led online course Genealogy Basics through Gale Courses. If you are visiting any MCPL branch, you can also access Ancestry Library Edition, a free version of the popular subscription service.
Get the kids in on the fun as well! CultureGrams Kid’s Edition has numerous articles on genealogy for kids, and Kids InfoBits is also a great resource for children who are interested in learning about family history.
- Preserve your family’s oral history.
Through MGC’s Tell Me a Story oral history program, you can capture and preserve your cherished family stories and memories through kits that can be checked out and taken home or by using the recording equipment inside the Midwest Genealogy Center. After completing your recording, MGC staff will provide a copy for you to keep, and with your permission, archive another copy to the online collection for others to enjoy.
- Create a keepsake that can be passed down.
Need a creative outlet? Try making a family history heirloom that can be handed down to future generations! One of those most common formats is the heritage album, which can be constructed much like a traditional scrapbook or photo album. However, many family history researchers also enjoy employing a variety of different methods—from quilting to blogging.
In fact, if the written word is more your strength, you can try your hand at developing a printed book filled with stories, recipes, photos, and other information you’d like to preserve. Once your copy is written, be sure to stop by MCPL’s Woodneath Library Center to use the Espresso Book Machine, a print-on-demand tool that can be used to self-publish your work.
- Attend a class at the Midwest Genealogy Center.
MGC offers hundreds of free programs each year for family history enthusiasts, and this October is no exception. MGC will host a variety of other programs throughout the month—from Beginning Genealogy to German Research Discussion Group. Be sure to see the full list and register today!
- Fill out your family tree.
Outline all the leaves on your family tree with the forms available through midwestgenealogycenter.org. Want to get the whole family involved? Check out the coloring sheets and kid-friendly family trees on our website! The whole family can work on filling these out at MGC as you use the Library’s resources to fill in the blanks.
Discovering your family history can fulfill a need that you never knew you had! Interested in starting your research journey this October? Swing by the Midwest Genealogy Center and let us help you!
How will you celebrate this Family History Month?
-MCPL Marketing & Communications