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Explore your family tree; free genealogy class July 26

By Leigh A. Tarullo

June 21, 2012 12:16PM

A library patron explores genealogy programs online.


With the release of the 1940s census this April, genealogy sites and forums have all been extremely active. Genealogy has even become a hot topic in the media.

With the introduction of DNA research and a variety of family history series on PBS and network television, people have begun to search down ancestors with relish. All you need is a couple of names and dates and with the help of websites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.com you can shake loose your family tree.

Ancestry.com is easy to use and a great place to start your search. Access census records, passenger lists, military records and the Social Security death index to search generations of your family. Visit the library to use Ancestry Library Edition for free. Or visit our website at oppl.org and use your Oak Park Public Library card to link to Ancestry.com.

Family Search, the largest genealogy organization in the world, is great for the first time researcher or the seasoned genealogist. Their resources are provided for free as a service from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their FamilySearch.org website is user-friendly and offers many “how to” articles and videos.

Oak Park Public Library can also help you in your search. Whether you’re looking for obituaries or death notices in local newspapers or researching the Oak Park family home, our collections can provide valuable information.

The Oak Park Collection at our main library consists of microfilm, books, manuscripts and other media to aid your research. The Local Newspaper Index covers articles and obituaries from Oak Park newspapers from 1883 to 1987. Arranged alphabetically, the index can give vital biographical information about local families. The Local History Collection consists of yearbooks, books about Oak Park’s History and biographical works about early settlers of Oak Park.

The Hasbrouck and Sprague architectural file can help you research the history of a particular Oak Park address. This flat file of newspaper clippings, photocopies of building permits and photographs, can help in tracking down original owners and architects of properties.

Available on our website is the Steiner Index, an index that lists information about Oak Park and River Forest houses and buildings. You can find names of original owners, architects, building dates and addresses.

Oak Park Public Library will again offer our free Genealogy on the Internet class at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 26. This class reviews some of the top genealogical sites and gives detailed instruction for searching census and vital records. To attend, drop-in. No advanced registration necessary.

As always, our staff is happy to assist you with these resources or in finding additional materials. Good luck and may your search be rewarding!

Leigh A. Tarullo is the local history librarian for Adult and Teen Services at the Maze Branch of the Oak Park Public Library.

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