Folks, I’m here to tell you that if you’re interested in giving your family genealogy-themed gifts in December 2017, it’s time to start your holiday shopping. Do you want to give your parents glorious copies of their family trees? Create a book? Share with relatives maps with the locations of their ancestors’ homelands? Then start making purchasing plans now.
“But the season is still nine months away!” I know, but good—and accurate—family history research takes time.
Each November, Raincross Information Services receives several requests for research with the clients’ intent to present said findings to families at holiday gatherings.
Each November, I have to reluctantly decline all these requests. Why? Because family history research has its own timeline and can’t be guaranteed in 2-4 weeks.
It’s not all online.
Genealogy has hit a boom, and the many television commercials we see make it appear that certain websites have all the records and thus all the answers. That’s not the case. These websites are helpful tools but they don’t hold all historical records in their collections. Often the records I need to help build your family tree are offline, sitting in books on shelves in small county courthouses. It takes time to locate the records, make requests for them or the microfilms that have what is needed.
No two genealogy issues are the same.
Just as each individual is unique, so is each family tree. No two genealogical research situations are the same. This is why it is impossible to guarantee your November request for a full family tree will be met in a few short weeks.
Accuracy takes time.
It’s very tempting to pull all your family history information from someone else’s online family tree but don’t do it. What if it is wrong? Do you want your own family history to be incorrect? Or your fancy wall charts to contain people who aren’t even your ancestors?
Genealogical questions are answered with records. It takes time to get those records. Sometimes those records bring more questions, which leads to requesting and waiting for more records.
If you want to do our own genealogy research or have someone do it for you, I suggest you start now. If you want to try your hand at it, but get stuck, as me for help. I’m happy to point you in the right direction. Whatever your choice, have patience and allow plenty of time.
Family history is the best present you can give. It connects loved ones and brings senses of purpose and understanding. I hope you’ll consider giving the gift of genealogy this year. Besides, giving family history as a present now means you don’t have to deal with unruly crowds and malls after Thanksgiving.
This week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Carnegie History Center, housed in the former Carnegie Public Library building. If you're unfamiliar with Carnegie Libraries, read all about them here.
The library holds a lot of unique records reflecting the history of the area. I was there to look at some of those records on behalf of a client. Here are my tips and impressions if a genealogy visit to Bryan is in your future.
Parking was free along Main Street in front of the library, but all signs pointed to a 90-minute limit. I drove around to the back of the library and found a free parking spot with no limit.
The staff was very friendly and helpful toward me, so expect the same on your visit. Many archives request visitors store their belongings in lockers, but the Carnegie History Center does not have them, nor do they require that you stow your belongings. They did ask that I only use pencils (no pens), but even lent me one to borrow.
The library has copy machines, but I just took photos of the records using my camera. I don't know if their microfilm machine takes flash drives, so call ahead if that's part of your research plan.
Let's talk food. Are there places to eat around there? This is my first question when I go to a new repository because I'll likely be there all day and will need some sort of lunch. The Carnegie History Center is right in the middle of historic downtown, with restaurants in walking distance.
The architecture of the building is so stunning, that it was a bit of a distraction for me. I needed to work quickly to finish everything in one day, but I often found myself staring at the tin ceiling above me:
If you visit the Carnegie History Center, make some time to view the entire building, and ask for a quick tour if possible.
Carnegie History Center
111 S. Main St.
Bryan, Texas 77803
Learn how to use the online genealogy resource, Ancestry.com, on Wednesday, March 22, beginning at 10:30 am, in Meeting Room 2 at Fort Bend County Libraries' University Branch Library, 14010 University Blvd in Sugar Land, on the UH campus.
Daniel Sample, manager of FBCL's Genealogy and Local History department, will provide an introduction to the family-history-research resources that are available on the Ancestry.com genealogy database, which can be accessed for free through the library's website. Learn how to get results tracing family history by using this helpful online resource. Tips and strategies for a more efficient search will be demonstrated.
The class is free and open to the public. For more information, call the University Branch Library at 281-633-5100 or the library system's Public Information Office at 281-633-4734.
Amy Lenertz, MLIS is the founder of Raincross Information Services.