How to research genealogy (and the best places to look)

When doing family genealogy research, it is easy to think that all of the information is online but backing that up with hard copy proof can be just as important.

EPL has hundreds of resources and the expert help to find the information that family history researchers need to verify or prove the pieces that they find online, according to reference librarian Amy Pfifferling-Irons.genealogy-02

“Many of these sites, its people just putting it on there, so then you want to go and check it,” she said.

“You want to have proof that, whatever it is, actually happened.”

That is where the books, magazines and in-house web resources of EPL come into play.

From Ancestry that can be accessed only inside the library to city directories and published obituaries stretching back to the 1860s, the items here can help set family history straight.

EPL has cemetery records and obituary indices going back over 150 years in some cases. Using an index, people can find the publication that an obit ran in and then using a microfilm machine, email it or save it to a thumb drive.

< < Check out all of EPL’s Genealogy links here > >

If a researcher is having trouble locating an item, the expert library staff is always on hand to point people in the right direction.

“There’s always somewhere here to help you,” said Pfifferling-Irons. “Coming here, we’ll help get them to the next step.”

Most help is free but if someone is outside of the area, for just $5 a librarian will do 30 minutes of research and email it to the person making the request.

Librarians can even help find other agencies that can assist, including foreign libraries.

“We can suggest another resource, another library,” she said.

As for advice, Pfifferling-Irons said Ancestry is a great place to start.

“The best thing for people to do is to come into the library and start out with Ancestry,” she said.

She also advises that when searching for the women in a family, land records are a great place to look.

“Finding the women in your family can be difficult,” she said. “Surprisingly it’s the land records because you would think ‘oh jus the men had to sign off on that’ but the spouse and the children all had to be documented on those items.”

EPL has thousands of land records, she added.genealogy-01

Links to check out:

Ancestry Library Edition: Accessible only inside EPL buildings but a fantastic starting point for genealogy

Heritage Quest:  A good place to find the military history of a family member, Pfifferling-Irons said.

Newspaper Archive: Billions of articles from the U.S. and around the globe

Local History Index: Search the library’s index of articles from the Elkhart Truth

Local Obituary Index: Search for Elkhart Truth obituary from 1921 to the present

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