Research Your Heritage @ Your Library

Did you receive a subscription to a genealogy service during the holidays? Want to be more in touch with your family and your background? Did you know you can research your own family history with print and electronic resources at your local library? The first step of any good genealogy project is to interview the older members of your family and gather names, dates, and places. Once you have the data in hand, a wealth of records is available online through the library.

SJCPLS offers patrons Ancestry Library Edition, which brings a world of records to your computer screen! This online resource is only available for use in person at one of our libraries. Its unique search interface allows access to a wealth of resources, including: census, military, court, land, probate, vital and church records; directories, passenger lists; and more. These records can contain names, ages, locations, parents’ or children’s names, and more. Scans of original documents are available for viewing, printing, or downloading.

It’s important to understand that not everything is available on the Internet. Researchers may be interested in specialty items like the Slave Narratives collected by the Federal Writer’s Project or information about tribal members collected by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Assistance with these “tougher” searches may be found through the Genealogy Research Study Group. This group meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the Southeast Library. Registration is required.

There is so much to be found at your local library, including guidance on research and family history, and interesting conversations with other people tracing their family histories. With six library branches and two bookmobiles, there’s sure to be a library location near you!

Debra Rhodes Gibson

Library System Director, St. Johns County Public Library System