This blog post, full of helpful tips for genealogy research, was authored by library practicum student Angel Marie Jacoby.
Genealogy is a wildly popular hobby these days. Hit shows like Finding Your Roots and commercials for genealogy companies like Ancestry are all over our TV screens. The internet is positively bursting with oh so many genealogy sites! It’s a great time to start your family history research.
Yet, that staggering number of options can become overwhelming. It’s tough sorting through the crowd for useful, reliable resources. And costs can add up quickly. So, where should you start?
That’s easy – start at the library! If you’re excited to learn more about your genealogy but need some guidance, we’re here to help. This guide contains many useful free resources that will help you begin your family history journey. You’ll be making discoveries and crafting family tree charts in no time!
Please visit or email the Information Desk for support. We’re happy to assist you as you begin your research. We can guide you in accessing our databases, using the microfilm reader, digitizing your precious family photos and documents, and so on.
LIBRARY RESOURCES (ON-SITE) –VISIT US TODAY!
Our collection offers a wide range of genealogy materials. There’s something for everyone, no matter your age group or research experience level. Genealogy books and DVDs are shelved in Nonfiction (call number 929).
You can even extend your search to our consortium's catalog and request holds on even more items from our partner libraries. Remember to also search in our online eLibrary services such as OverDrive, Hoopla, and so on.
If your family has lived nearby for a while, some of our Special Collections may be of particular interest. Our microfilm reader workstation is located along the west wall of the Dundee branch’s main level. Dive into our special Microfilm/Microfiche Collection of some local newspapers, magazines, and census records. The oldest dates to 1840!
The Reference section (call number R 977) holds many treasures – local city directories, yearbooks, and more! Perhaps you’ll find records of your family’s homes or jobs. Keep an eye out for your parents’ silly senior year pictures!
And don’t forget our amazing Local History Files! This digitized collection of 400+ interesting and unusual items brings stories to life from all our district’s various communities. There are photos, maps, news articles, and more. It’s a history buff’s dream! Did you know we had a local “anti-pollution vigilante” who was never caught?
E-RESOURCES – FREE PATRON ACCESS TO ONLINE DATABASES.
Ancestry: Library Edition is a free library version of the genealogy website giant. Ancestry has an ever-expanding collection of records, research tools, and family trees. [NOTE: Access to the free Library Ed. is usually restricted to use inside the library. Temporary remote access is being provided to library patrons through the end of 2021!]
HeritageQuest has U.S. and Canadian census records, city directories, PERSI (Periodical Source Index), local history books, and more.
Newsbank: America's News – 3,650+ digital U.S. newspapers, including both local and national publications. Newspapers are rich sources for news articles about your families, and if you’re lucky, photos! Many post announcements – births, graduations, weddings, business, death, etc.
HeritageHub – A Newsbank platform combining their America's GenealogyBank and America's Death and Obituary Notices resources. It is an excellent source for finding American obituaries and death notices.
LOCAL GENEALOGICAL / HISTORICAL SOCIETIES
Local genealogy societies and historical societies are amazing resources. They’re great places for new or struggling genealogists to seek guidance and local history knowledge. A portion of their meetings and (online) resources are often open to the general public. Many members volunteer to assist their fellow genealogists with research “brick walls.”
- Elgin Genealogical Society
- Kane County Genealogical Society
- Fox Valley Genealogical Society
- Dundee Township Historical Society
- Barrington History Museum
- Elgin History Museum