Genealogy is a popular pastime – a curiosity for most, a hobby for many, and an obsession for some. People start researching their family tree for many different reasons. A few of these reasons may be to trace medical conditions, to find birth parents, to trace a family inheritance, to validate family stories, or reconnect with family members. Nevertheless, at its root, genealogy satisfies basic human curiosity and helps us understand how we fit into the world around us.
The West Bend Library has many genealogical resources for you. Family Tree Magazine is one excellent resource. It provides easy-to-understand instruction and a beginner-friendly approach that makes genealogy a hobby anyone can start to do. It covers subjects such as ethnic heritage, family reunions, memoirs, oral history, scrapbooking, historical travel, and other ways that families connect with their pasts. The most recent issue (November/December) highlights the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower. Other articles include the 75 best U.S. genealogy websites and one that instructs readers how to interview relatives from a distance. As well, each issue offers a form that will help you preserve your family’s stories and organize your research.
The library subscribes to Ancestry.com, which you can use in the library and remotely. Ancestry recently announced that they would generously allow public libraries to give their customers remote access to Ancestry Library Edition through the end of December. This means that all customers with a current West Bend Library card can use Ancestry to work on their genealogy projects at home. From our website, www.westbendlibrary.org, click on Library Services then Online Resources & Databases. [You can also just click here!] You will see a heading that says Genealogy, History & Newspapers. Follow the directions below that heading. You will also see Heritage Quest listed underneath Ancestry. Use this database to find ancestors and relatives in the complete set of US Federal Census Records 1790-1930. Also, find information on people and places described in over 25,000 family and local histories. Heritage Quest is available remotely as well.
The West Bend Library also has many books on this subject upstairs in the 929.1 call number area. Genealogy for Beginners by Katherine Pennavaria (2020) covers everything you need to get started researching your family history or to continue a project you have already started. Written by an experienced genealogist, you will get detailed, step-by-step instructions. Tracing Your Irish History on the Internet by Chris Paton (2019) and Finding Your Famous & Infamous Ancestors by Rhonda McClure are a few other interesting titles. Click the links to see more about each book, and to place requests for easy pickup.
Start uncovering the treasures in your family history using the resources West Bend Community Memorial Library offers. For questions, please call our Reference Desk at 262.335.5152.