New Kent library can help you get to the root of your family tree

Have you ever wanted to trace your genealogy on Ancestry.com but couldn’t afford the services?

If so, the Heritage Public Library is the place to go!

Last summer, the library applied for and received a $1,000 grant from the Farm Bureau of Charles City, James City, New Kent, and York counties, for the Library Edition of Ancestry.com, which is completely free to its patrons at the facility, located at 6215 D Chesapeake Circle in New Kent.

The resource was chosen in part because in order to be certified by the Daughters of the American Revolution, residents must prove their heritage using Ancestry.com.

“We are so excited to have this because we have had a lot of people come in to the library looking for information on their relatives and we couldn’t always answer the questions, especially since a lot of the county records were burned in Richmond,” said Library Director Barbara Winters.

“There’s a big gap and we were frustrated that we couldn’t fill that gap before we got this online resource.”

The library version of Ancestory.com offers more documents than personal accounts, said the library’s IT coordinator, Judy Harris.

Both the personal and library version of Ancestry.com have the following records: immigration, census, family history, court, photos, birth, death, and military.

However, the library version also has records from Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Australia, and China, as well as free ethnic research guides.

To use the Library Edition, patrons must use the library’s computers or their own devices within the library vicinity, because the edition works by the IP address, said Harris.

Since the library started up Ancestry.com last summer, it has had over 1,100 uses, which means a lot of residents are interested in finding out their genealogy.

“I’ve seen people on the computer just sit there researching for hours, not even realizing how much time they’ve spent there,” said Harris. “It’s great to learn all about their family history, and we love to hear about it, too.”

According to Harris, a self-proclaimed history buff, there are five billion individuals in the Ancestry.com database waiting to be discovered.

Harris and other library staff are available to help new users navigate the Library Edition of Ancestry.com. However, those wishing to work alone won’t have much trouble because according to Harris, the site is “very easy to navigate.”

The Heritage Public Library is open Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, 10a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, please call Winters or Harris at (804) 966-2480.

For the next two weeks, Tidewater Review reporter Amy Jo Martin will use the Heritage Public Library edition of Ancestry.com in order to trace one side of her family history, and give tips on how to use the site and information to build a family tree.

Have you used Ancestry.com before? If you have discovered a piece of interesting family history using Ancestry.com and would like to share it, please contact Martin at 804-885-0040.