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Library now helps genealogy take root

Anyone who has ever taken on the task of retracing a family tree can tell you the research is tedious, and the roadblocks numerous, but the ultimate reward is outstanding. Now, the Suffolk Public Library system has tools in place to make that task much easier.

In a release Wednesday, the system announced it has new resources to help family history searches and is “responding to a growing interest in family history that has captured not only Suffolk, but America as a whole.”

“More and more patrons want to explore their past, and these resources make it easy and convenient,” said Suffolk Public Library branch manager Olivia DiLeonardo. “We expect this to be one of our most popular services.”

The system has acquired HeritageQuest Online and Ancestry Library Editions, web-based reference tools from ProQuest Information and Leaning. The programs allow researchers to begin searches by surname.

HeritageQuest Online provides several sources of information including the Census, over 20,000 family and local history books, an index to nearly 2 million magazine articles with genealogical information and a database of Revolutionary War records.

The program instantly searches for matches and returns the results. According to the release, users then can simply click on a name and an image of the matching record appears. For example, when a name is searched in the Census collection, the particular page from the Census where the name is listed will be displayed on the screen.

The other resource, Ancestry Library Edition, is available on the library’s public computers located at Morgan Memorial Library, North Suffolk Library and Chuckatuck Library.

DiLeonardo suggests those seeking family history information should come armed with a list of ancestors to begin the research.

“Make a list of the names of every direct ancestor you can think of,” she said.

Once connected to Ancestry Library Edition, a screen will appear asking for the name of the person being searched. The program searches Census data, birth, marriage and death records, World War I draft registration information, Social Security death records and immigration lists. It also includes an “extensive collection of information” from the United Kingdom, including images from English and Welsh census records and civil registrations.

The program also searches probate records dating back to the 1500s from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

“Genealogy is a wonderful hobby for anyone who wants to know more about where they came from,” DiLeonardo said. “We’re delighted to provide resources that are simple enough for beginners, yet provide deep and broad content sets that will help veteran genealogists advance their research.”

For more information, call 514-7150 or visit Suffolk Public Library on the web at www.suffolk.lib.va.us.