We learn our family history in many ways. Sometimes, it’s hearing our great-great uncle tell the same ten stories every year from our youth. Sometimes, it’s through scrapbooks and other family items passed down the generations. Sometimes, it’s heirlooms and photos on the walls and surfaces in family homes.
And sometimes, we just don’t know.
So much of the world is digital nowadays, but it’s still hard to know if you’re going to find anything about your family online. The best records for this huge nation of immigrants come from Ellis Island. But what if your ancestors didn’t come to the country that way? Or what if they did? What about before then? Even if we have had family in the United States or US-Adjacent countries for over a century, it’s hard to find the right information if you don’t have all the right factors. Do you know all four grandparents’ names? Do you know where they lived during the census years of their youth?
Do you even know what you know?
It’s hard to know. But the great thing about family history and genealogy, is that the resources for it are growing all the time. Not just on the free web but in institutions as well. Say you were at one of the PCPL libraries. First, start out with a presentation from the Pima County Genealogy Society, opens a new window about how to start your inquiry into family history.
Want to start out on your own? Check out the Genealogy resources you can use in our e-library, opens a new window! These range from personal history research to general information about genealogy, and for the most part you can access them from your own computer. You do have to be in a library building to use our special library version of Ancestry.com, opens a new window, but would that really be a problem?
These resources range from newspaper databases, opens a new window to full collections of materials about genealogical research. You can find guides on where to start alongside ship and caravan rosters. You might be interested in the photographs a well-crafted search of the National Archives, opens a new window’ image collection may produce.
Not a native Tucsonan? That’s okay. While we have a few designated local resources, a lot of what is available on the sites covers nationwide history.
Not native to the United States? Come into the library, anyway, and our librarians can help you find similar resources or how to access them.