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Walworth, Rock county genealogists find past times are the new pastime

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Hard-copy reference materials are still a mainstay of genealogical research, but the growing amount of information available online is spurring some people to take a new interest in the past. Some people want to piece together a family tree while others are more interested in finding out what life was like for their ancestors, genealogy experts say. Terry Mayer photo.

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Debbie Ketchum of the Walworth County Genealogical Society is surrounded by reference materials in the Mary Bray Room of Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn. Ketchum and other genealogy experts say they’re seeing increased interest from people who want to delve into the past.

Debbie Ketchum of the Walworth County Genealogical Society is surrounded by reference materials in the Mary Bray Room of Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn. Ketchum and other genealogy experts say they’re seeing increased interest from people who want to delve into the past.

JANESVILLE — The “good old daysâ€� might be gone, but an increasing number of people are revisiting the past with renewed interest, thanks to today’s technology.

(Read all of this week’s stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )

TV programs such as “Who Do You Think You Are?� and online resources like www.ancestry.com and HeritageQuest have encouraged a growing number of people to dig into their family history.

Officials at several area libraries and genealogical societies report that they’re trying to keep up with new resources and a growing number of researchers who are using those resources.

“It’s picked up a lot in the last 15 years,� said Debbie Ketchum of the Walworth County Genealogical Society. “I think a lot of that has to do with technology. People can go online and do research.

“The PBS stations also have aired programs about researching family history. There’s definitely been a lot of interest.�

Ketchum said the recent release of the 1940 census also has increased people’s interest.

“People are just tickled pink about that,� Ketchum said. “Some people are able to find information about their parents, siblings and even themselves.�

The Walworth County Genealogical Society’s library, located in the Mary Bray Room of Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the second Saturday of the month. The library offers various resources to help people with genealogical research.

“We have a lot of stuff that has been donated by members or other organizations,� Ketchum said. “We have information about the local area, as well as other states and countries. We have self-help books to help people get into (genealogical research). We have information about how people can put together a book about their research.

“We have plat maps, and we have a collection of obituaries. We also have newspaper clippings, and members have donated information about their family history.�

People often are interested in learning about where their ancestors lived or where they are buried, she said.

For the complete story, see HERE.

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