History questions answered by library staffers

Published 10:21 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

Suffolk Public Library provides services for local history buffs and genealogical enthusiasts. Local history and genealogy coordinator LaSandra Adams is taking it a step further with “Ask LaSandra!”

Adams was at Morgan Memorial Library Wednesday morning to answer questions, demonstrate how to use tools like the microfilm machine and record oral histories for the library’s Suffolk Speaks project.

She will be at the library for more local history and genealogy questions on March 27.

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“I will sit with them and help them search, or give them tips on how to research, but a lot of the research I’ll do myself,” Adams said.

Adams has provided these services for the past four years. She’s helped people find death certificates and relevant news articles. Other sources range from obituaries to census records.

Patrons are able to arrange for “discovery appointments” for Adams to help them with their inquiries in person. They’re also able to access ancestry.com without paying the subscription fee, according to Adams.

Finding much of this information has proven difficult because of lost or destroyed records. Fires turned important notes on Suffolk’s history into ashes, and changes in technology have left pieces forgotten or inaccessible.

That’s why Suffolk Speaks is so important, according to Adams. The oral history project collects the experiences from anyone who has stories about their time in the city.

“A lot of older people have these histories in their brains, but they’re not written down,” she said. “We’re trying to get those stories before they’re gone.”

Citizens have proven to be avid about their historical research. Adams said that Black History Month in February drew a lot of questions about civil rights activism in the city’s past. The library’s Genealogy Meetups regularly attract people that have been studying the city’s landmark events and their family backstories for years.

“People are really enthusiastic and excited to find this information,” Adams said. “Suffolk is huge, but it’s also a close-knit community where people love to find these things out.”

The next Genealogy Meetup will be held at 6 p.m. this Thursday at Morgan Memorial Library. Call 514-7323 or visit suffolkpubliclibrary.com for more information.