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. You can even sign up for a free Ancestry Library Edition account to use in the Library. In addition to its extensive physical and digital resources, this month the Library is also home to a unique exhibit called Over There: Missouri and the Great War, which tells the story of Missourians and their unique role in WWI. Stop by before October 25 to check it out and learn about your own family history!
Before you visit, sign up for the MGC National History Month Scavenger Hunt, available on your smartphone through the free GooseChase app available for iPhone and Android devices. Fun for the whole family, participating in this digital game will earn you the chance to win a pair of AncestryDNA kits! Many of the missions can be done without visiting and can still qualify you for the prize. Learn more about how to play.
- 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) 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.
- 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. On October 12, MGC will host its annual fall lock-in with extra research hours, snacks, games, and mini classes. In addition, there will be a variety of other programs available throughout the month—from Beginning Genealogy and Census Records Research to Tracing Your Immigrant Origins and Collecting Your Family Stories Before They Are Lost. 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