Researching your family history (genealogy) can be a truly rewarding hobby and getting to know your ancestors can give you a sense of belonging and connection to the past. You might discover some exciting surprises about your family members that you didn’t know, or maybe confirm family legends. Many people already know the joys that come with genealogy research, and many have yet to discover them. However, no matter what camp you are in, Belleville Public Library’s Family History Day is a great place to learn more about genealogy. On Saturday, May 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., genealogy experts will be giving four sessions covering Loyalist ancestry, social media for genealogists, English records, and DNA explained. This event is free and requires no registration. For more information please call 613-968-6731 x2037.
The library also has plenty of resources available for researchers looking to learn about their Belleville ancestors. One of the best resources we have is an index of the birth, marriage, and death announcements from the Belleville Intelligencer microfilm archives. These provide an alphabetical listing of names mentioned in the obituaries, marriage, and birth notices in the Belleville Intelligencer and its many iterations dating back to the mid-19th century. These notices are helpful as they often list parents, siblings, and other relatives, providing you with clues about more family members in your tree.
Another amazing resource the library subscribes to is Ancestry Library Edition. This resource, for use in the library, provides searchable digitized census and voter lists, military and immigration records, as well as birth, marriage, and death certificates. These resources come from around the world, including the UK and Europe, Egypt, Algeria, Brazil, China, India, Japan, and many more. It includes Canadian census records dating back to 1851, and census records from 1825 for Lower Canada, and 1842 for Canada East. With more than 7,000 available databases, and millions of Canadian records, this Ancestry Library Edition is definitely the starting place for any genealogist.
You can also benefit from the work others have done in compiling family histories. The library has a collection of family histories that people have written and donated for others to use. These family histories highlight not only the genealogy of a particular family, but also tidbits and anecdotes surrounding the individuals in the family tree. While some are more detailed than others, these family trees are a valuable source for those who are looking for more information about different families in Belleville.
Belleville Public Library has plenty of resources for both the novice and experienced family history researcher. The upcoming Family History Day is a perfect opportunity to learn more about genealogical research. If you’re looking for more information about what kind of resources the library has for family history research, including a list of the donated family histories that we keep, you can always check out the Genealogy page on our website under Services. Genealogy research is a great way to feel connected to your past, so why not give it a try?
– Virginia Sytsma is the Information Services Librarian for Belleville Public Library and John M. Parrott Art Gallery