February 7, 2007

Ancestors? Genealogy?

Who are you related to? Are you ready to spend your life finding out?

Visit the Virginiana Room in the Warrenton library or read an introduction online. "The Virginiana Room, housed in the Warrenton Library, has an extensive collection of materials focusing on state and local history and genealogical research."

Have you ever wondered who is that Uncle Marcus that everyone in your family thinks you look like? There may be pictures and documents out there to research...and even closer to home than you may think! Ask a librarian how to start thinking about a genealogical search. Is now a good time? Will it be too late if you wait? What information can you start gathering at family reunions and/or from old letters before you hit the stacks (browse the book shelves) at the library? You may discover an uncle or second cousin has already begun the search...and would like to join you.

Look at the online Sanborn Digital Maps for Virginia to "learn about the history, growth, and development of cities, towns, and neighborhoods in Virginia. They include information such as the outline of buildings and their size shape and function, street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers." Have you heard that your Granny Lou used to live on Main Street? Did she sit in the rocking chair in the back sun room every day for decades? Was there one window or two? If you can find her part of town in the Sanborn Digital Maps, you might be able to answer those precise questions. Or...how warm did your family stay 80 years ago in a house with one, or was it two, fireplaces? Had you considered wood burning stoves? Was the building next door a school or a residence? And on and on and on...

Need to visit the Local Historical Resources. Link to Afro-American Historical Association, Fauquier Heritage Society, Old Elk Run Church Site Preservation Project, Mosby Museum, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Old Jail Museum, Teaching With Historic Places, Monroe Park, Goldvein, VA, John Singleton Mosby Heritage Area, Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia, Manassas National Battlefield Park, The Museum of Culpeper History, Library of Virginia's online resources, University of Virginia Library Genealogical Resources (Virginia Genealogy), and In the First Person ("an index to English language personal narratives, including letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, and oral histories").

If you're not feeling up for searching newspapers, magazines, military records, or local history sources for such personal information today, how about browsing the records just for fun. You don't need a reason to browse. If you like looking at elegant handwriting, signatures, or dated penmanship, scan through random names for downloadable charts in Ancestry.com or HeritageQuest Online. Then pursue the meaning of all those swirls and dotted i's. Check out library books on handwriting analysis, also known as graphology. It's such a popular topic, The Complete Idiot's Guide has published their own version. Come back to genealogy later and read about forensic identification. Check out Hidden Evidence: 40 true crimes and How Forensic Science Helped Solve Them and Crime Lab 101: Experimenting with Crime Detection. Don't get too lost when you find at least 71 subject results (even more books) for " forensic" in the catalog. You have the tools to discover clues...to your own psychological, historical composition. Good luck.