Library offers online resources for genealogists

Coming in January to Cook Memorial Library are two new databases of
interest to family history researchers and genealogists — HeritageQuest
Online available from home or office with a library card, and Ancestry
Library Edition, available only in the library.

HeritageQuest Online is designed to help amateur and professional
genealogists, local historians and library patrons search and use data
from the U.S. Census from 1790 to 1930.

Also in the program are  more than 25,000 full-text family and local histories, and the PERiodical Source Index, a subject index of over 6,500 local history and genealogy periodicals since 1800.

The database includes Revolutionary War pension and bounty-land-warrant application files, as well as the Freedman’s Bank Records, an important resource for African-American genealogical research.

Additionally, there are more than 250 primary-source documents such as tax lists, city directories and probate records.

Ancestry Library Edition is the largest online family history resource available. This database provides unprecedented access to family history via documents that record the lineage of individuals from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and more.

Distributed exclusively by ProQuest and powered by, it brings the world’s most popular consumer online family history resource to the library.

“Ancestry Library Edition makes genealogy research more productive and accessible than ever before, even for beginners,” said Library Director Terri Washburn. “Using in the library is a great tool for helping those who have thought about tracing their roots to move from interest to  action.”

People can meet their families firsthand with millions of unique, full-text primary sources and enhanced images, including census records from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Germany; the Canadian Census (1851-1911); birth, marriage and death records for the U.S., Canada and the U.K.; Canadian Genealogy Index (1600s-1900s); U.S. military records (back to the 1600s); and Canadian military collections.

Also available are the  Drouin Collection of French-Canadian and Quebec; historical records (1621-1967); immigration, emigration, passport and naturalization records; Jewish family history records; U.S. and Canadian passenger lists (1865-1935); and directories and members lists from the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Court, land, tax and probate records are also available.  In addition to collections from the U.S., Canada and the U.K., Ancestry Library Edition also features major collections from France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Australia and China.

People can see how the family lived with additional collections that add context and background to individuals’ stories, such as biographies and histories.

That material includes the American Genealogical-Biographical Index and WPA Slave Narratives, collections that bring together diverse materials on communities of people, such as Jewish family history and photos and maps, ranging from postcards and panoramas to family photos and headstones.

Ancestry Library Edition features helpful tools such as charts, summaries, calendars, message boards and more.

Beginners can use the tools and resources in the Learning Center to start their family trees, get the most out of historical records, connect with other researchers, find answers to tough research questions and more.

“Answers await all users — professional or hobbyist, expert or novice, genealogist or historian — inside the thousands of databases of family information,” Washburn said.

She added that user-friendly search tools and comprehensive indexing make it easy to start discovering personal histories.

“While there is nothing better than doing research in person, having the original documents scanned and online is a great convenience,” she said. “The indexing that has provided makes the records more accessible than they have ever been.”

Washburn said patrons can access the database just as they do any of the other databases the library’s website,

Click on “links to databases and external websites,” find the database on the list and click on the link.

A prompt will ask for a library card number and possibly the patron’s personal identification number.

Washburn also said HeritageQuest is for beginners and Ancestry is for those who have run out of leads or are more serious researchers.

Ancestry is what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses in their Family History Centers.

Washburn said she urges everyone with an interest in family history to stop by the library soon and explore their family tree.

She said the databases are expensive, and that the library won’t continue with them if they do not see use.

Genealogy Today: Vintage Christmas music still inspiring today

A column published on Christmas Day must celebrate the meaning
of the day so let’s take a look at the music of Christmas, as much
a part of our celebration today as it was in our ancestors’

We all grew up singing “Jingle Bells” without much thought for
its origins. The song was written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont, a
sometimes writer and music director at his brother’s church in
Savannah, Ga. Originally titled “One Horse Open Sleigh,” it was
composed for a Sunday School Thanksgiving concert and is supposed
to commemorate the sleigh races held during the 1800s in Medford,

Since Pierpont had grown up in Boston, Mass., he may have been
longing for the northern winters of his youth, as there could not
have been many sleighs in use in Savannah. The song was not
immediately popular, but over time was accepted and widely sung in
the United Sates, eventually becoming one of the best-loved
Christmas songs in the world.

“Jingle Bells” has the honor of being the first song broadcast from
outer space. Astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra contacted
Mission Control from orbit on Dec. 16, 1965, saying, “We have an
object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably
in polar orbit … I see a command module and eight smaller modules
in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit.”
They then pulled out a harmonica and sleigh bells they smuggled
aboard and broadcast their rendition of “Jingle Bells.”

Music has been part of Christmas celebrations since the 1600s.
George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah” was composed in 1741 with
scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James
Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.

One of the most frequently performed choral works in Western music,
it’s generally linked with the Christmas season, especially in
England and the U.S.

The “Messiah” was first sung publicly by 26 boys and five men from
the combined choirs of St. Patrick’s and Christ Church cathedrals
at the New Music Hall in Dublin on 13 April 1742 to benefit a local
hospital. Today many church choirs and community choruses perform
it during December.

The “Messiah’s” Hallelujah Chorus has become popular with flash
mobs as it’s readily recognized, bringing people to their feet and
stopping them in their tracks. One flash mob singer said, “It’s a
great way of reminding everyone in the public square that
‘Christmas’ is all about the real meaning of Christmas – God’s
coming into this world to take on human flesh in the person of
Jesus Christ, so that He might become the Savior of the world!

The most popular Christmas carol ever written is still “Away in a
Manger.” It has been recorded by many music stars including Andy
Williams, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis and, most recently, Susan
Boyle. First published in Philadelphia in 1885, no one knows who
wrote it or when.

Despite the sometimes odd lyrics, it remains a favorite across the
world. Just as the “Messiah” does, this clumsy little carol
celebrates the birth of Jesus in a humble manger, as do other
popular carols: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Come All Ye
Faithful,” “It Came upon a Midnight Clear,” “Silent Night,” “O Holy
Night” and more.

Indeed, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? It’s not about who
gets the most gifts, which giver impresses with the most expensive
gift, who has the best decorated tree, or who wins the football

Christmas is not just a holiday – it is the commemoration of the
birth of the Savior of the World, God’s own son. Whether people
recognize it as such or not does not change the meaning or
significance of the day.

The only peace we have in this world is the peace that God puts in
our heart when we decide to trust in His Son for our personal
salvation. Seek Him first this Christmas Season and you’ll not be
sorry. I wish you each a Merry Christmas and a most Blessed New

Betty Lou Malesky, Certified GenealogistSM, is a past president
of Green Valley Genealogical Society. Contact her at or visit the society’s website at


© 2011 Green Valley News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Nat’l Genealogical Society Conference in SLC in 2010

Great news for all you family history nuts in Utah! The National Genealogical Society will be holding its annual Family History Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Salt Palace Convention Center on April 28 to May 1, 2010. The conference is expected to deliver workshops and speakers on family history work international and American. The conference will even include a mini-performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Sounds like fun to me! Anyone else planning on being there?