Hello, Everyone! I hope each of you is doing well. As always, we would love for you to come by and see us for a good book, high-speed internet and printing access, or any of our many other services. For today’s column, I wanted to talk about genealogy. Genealogy is the study of family lineage and history. For many, this is a fun and enlightening hobby. A few years ago, I did lots of digging into my ancestry and found many family ties that I did not know existed. While the research took quite a lot of my time, I consider it well worth it. If you choose to begin working on your genealogy, we have several resources here at the library that may help you in your journey.
If you have never done genealogy research before, you might wonder how to get started. There is no right or wrong answer, but here are some suggestions that might give you some direction.
1. Write down what you already know.
This can be written down on paper or typed and stored online or offline. I prefer the website familyecho.com, which allows you to collect and organize a ton of information about each family member.
2. Look at recent obituaries of known family members who have passed away.
These often contain complete lists of the deceased’s direct family members, some of which you may not have known. Obituaries local to North Mississippi from the late 1990s onward can be found online by searching the Daily Journal’s website. If you are looking for earlier obituaries, archives of the Itawamba Times can be found at the Times office and the Chancery Clerk’s office in the county courthouse. These archives begin around the 1950s. It is my ultimate goal to have a part in digitizing this archive for online searching, but that hasn’t been able to happen yet. An archive of the Daily Journal is available at the Lee County Library microfiche. For places outside of North Mississippi, I suggest searching through the websites of newspapers local to the area where you are looking. A subscription site, newspapers.com, may also be helpful in some instances.
3. Begin searching databases and physical materials for information on your ancestors.
The library pays for a subscription to ancestry.com, which is a great database for researching genealogy. Normally, this database can only be used by the public inside of the library. However, because the pandemic has kept many people closer to home, the company has allowed us to provide home access to our library patrons. Just call us at (662) 862-4926 for instructions on how to access that database. It includes things like censuses, military records, land records, and more. We also offer access to Heritage Quest. A database that provides some of the same resources to patrons. It can be accessed through the library’s website anytime by using your library card. For information regarding ancestors with a strong connection to Itawamba County, you may find information by visiting the library’s Mississippi Room or the Itawamba County Historical Society.
4. Social Media can be a good tool to locate and learn about living relatives
While many people research their genealogy to learn where their family came from, some may want to locate and learn about living relatives. Social media, such as Facebook, may help you here, though I suggest being tactful if using it for this purpose. While most people might be excited to learn of a cousin they did not know before, others might not be as happy to hear from you. This may be because of previous family strife that you are unaware of or simply because they are a very private person. Social media can be used to research previously unknown relatives you found in your previous research. There you can find pictures of these family members, more family connections, and other anecdotal information. If you choose to reach out to any of these newfound relatives, be sure to be kind and considerate when doing so.
I hope these tips are helpful in your journey to learn more about the history of your family. Feel free to call us if you need any help along the way.