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Library leads forum on getting back to one’s roots

Dunkirk resident Mary Maxson knew she had a long branch in her family tree living in Calvert County.

They came really, really early to counties, Maxson said.

She said that while some of her ancestors had a lot of acres others were migrant workers who were most likely illiterate.

Trying to find information about the latter, she guessed, would be more difficult.

Im trying to get some insight on the hard-to-find records, she said.

Maxson and several others in her shoes gathered at Calvert Library Prince Frederick on Saturday to learn how the use the librarys tools, and other research methods, to find information on their ancestors.

Connie Evans, the mother of Calvert Library reference librarian Allyson Evans, said she has been doing genealogy research for 35 years and led the discussion titled Finding Your Family along with her daughter.

The first step of learning about ancestors, Connie said, was pretty simple: Talk to the family you have.

… If theyre comfortable being video-taped thats the best way [to record information] or have them write things down as youre writing things down, Connie said.

When it came to good questions to get people talking, Connie suggested asking older relatives what they remember eating at family gatherings from their past.

For my family food equals family and family equals food, she said.

Connie also told Saturdays participants to have some method of staying organized while researching their ancestors and said she personally had one binder per surname.

She also said people might want to think about using a genealogy software program and Allyson said the library offered one called Virtual Roots 2.0.

Connie said a good place to look would be public records including census records, ship passenger lists, naturalization records, social security death indexes and even slave narratives.

On the ships passenger list it really depends on the ship and the line, Connie said, continuing that if immigrants were in the steerage section of a ship, records would only state whether or not they survived the trip.

Allyson said the Calvert Library had a Maryland section, which would be the best place to look for local records within the library.

Allyson also suggested looking in archives of smaller local newspapers, as larger papers wouldnt be especially helpful unless someone had local celebrity ancestors.

Connie said other helpful information included land records and courthouse archives that might include wills, marriage and death certificates or if your ancestors were involved in some kind of land dispute.

She added that this wouldnt be the kind of information readily available online.

Most of the time you actually have to go to the archives, Connie said, adding that the Calvert County Historical Society would also be a useful place to look for past records of local ancestors.

And we can attempt to find anything for you at the library, Allyson said, adding that the library subscribed to the databases Ancestry and Heritage Quest.

If you are unfamiliar with computers this will be your catalyst to get on, she said.

Connie and Allyson recommended several websites including;;;;;; and, a subscription service.

Connie also said a lot of records can be found at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, from which Calvert Library could also receive materials if requested.

She said to also consider what was happening in the world when looking for information on ancestors.

Your family lived through a lot of stuff, Connie said.

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