Finding your Family History

October is Family History Month. Pima County Genealogy Society volunteers will be at six branches in October to teach the resources and methods to do your own family history research. In anticipation of this series, I spoke with professional genealogist and private detective Amy Urman, and asked her a few questions. Amy is a go-to source for reference librarians when we have a difficult family history question.


What is the Pima County Genealogy Society and how did you get involved?

Barbara Salyer and I formed the Pima County Society in 2011.  We started as a club, met at the Wilmot library, and gradually increased our membership by offering interesting topics and bringing in some talented speakers.

Why should someone attend a Finding Your Family History workshop?

A basic genealogy workshop can lay a foundation for finding and locating documentation for your family.  

Have you traced your family history and did you find anything interesting?

My Great Great Grandfather was in the Civil War.  Utilizing my sleuthing skills and information obtained from attending genealogy classes, I located his pension file. In his pension file there was proof that my Great Great Grandmother was not married to my Great Great Grandfather - she never divorced her first husband!

What’s the one family history resource that everyone should know about?

The FamilySearch Research Wiki,, is a great starting point for research. You can search for a state and find out about information such as Illinois births - according to the wiki - Births between 1877-1916:  In 1877, Illinois required all births be reported to the county clerk; however, many were not reported because compliance was not enforced. The statewide registration began in 1916 with full compliance by 1922.

When did you start your private investigation agency and what kinds of cases do you handle?

I started my agency in 2003.  I prefer to handle Forensic cases - such as heir searches, land, water and mineral cases.  I do location searches for individuals, background searches and asset searches.  I love old court records, archives, and libraries so any case that would involve research at one of those facilities is right up my alley. I dislike being involved in divorce cases - too many emotions and surveillance services - I hate staying up late!

Without revealing any confidential info, describe your most interesting case? 

I was hired to find out death information for a relative.  The clues were few - he was a stuntman in old Hollywood and they had some information on some alias he used. He did not use his real name since it embarrassed his family. I found the gentleman living in an old folks home.  He was thrilled to have contact with his family.  He was in his 90's and had not had contact with his family since the 1940's, he thought he was all alone in the world.  

Family history programs are happening at various times at six library locations. 

Here is a link to all of our Finding your Family History programs in October

How to Do Everything

Mastering Online Genealogy

Guide to Genealogy