Expert teaches free genealogy classes
Posted January 29, 2009on:
The Northwest Regional Library, a part of the Maricopa County Library District, offers two free classes on genealogy each month. During these classes, Susan Smith shares over 24 years of experience and information that she continues to accumulate while searching for her family roots.
Smith distributes free handouts in both classes and gives a list of useful magazines, books and Web sites to help gather information. Participants in the class follow along with the handouts and the computer presentation on the big screen in front of the classroom. They ask specific questions about their own family members, and Smith quickly shows them how to search for their existence using different Web sites.
The library maintains three databases that patrons may use to do research: America’s Obituaries and Death Notices, Heritage Quest Online and Ancestry Library. Ancestry Library must be accessed at the library, but the other two research sites may be accessed by logging onto the library Web site from any location. Smith hands out a lavender library information sheet, which contains information on these databases. She also distributes a green handout that gives instructions on Ancestry Library.
Students learn research tricks that only a seasoned genealogy researcher knows. The beginners’ class runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. while the Internet class last at least two hours from 1 to 3 p.m. and sometimes later.
In the beginners’ class, Smith supplies students with information and forms on how to begin their research. She answers students’ questions and suggests possibilities to make their research easier. In the Internet class, students receive pages of Internet Web sites to do research locally, nationally and internationally. One site reviews genealogy software, another gives access to the full text of books and others show how to publish family trees online. Also included are links to blogs, podcasts, videos, cemeteries, prison and insane asylum records and newspapers.
Smith throws in a bonus by listing the largest genealogy library in the world, the Family History Library. This Web site contains instructions to download free software and the library’s whole catalog.