, Muskogee, OK

November 17, 2012

MPL can help trace family history

By Nancy Lasater
Books & More

— In the Genealogy and Local History Department at the Muskogee Public Library, the staff gets numerous inquiries each day about a patron’s family history. A good deal of the time, patrons are searching for information about a particular ancestor, including an obituary with information about them, or maybe they are trying to make a connection to one of the Native American tribes enrolled in Indian Territory.

Whatever the case, the most valuable tool they can bring is a document known as their Ancestry Chart, sometimes referred to as a Family or Pedigree Chart. In most instances, particularly new researchers do not know where to begin their ancestry research, and they are not aware of the value of information contained on a family chart.

This can seem to be a little overwhelming to a budding genealogist, but the staff and volunteers in the Genealogy Department are always glad to help anyone begin a journey into a family’s past and prepare for future research.

The patron beginning the research is usually No. 1, and the  father and mother are No. 2 and No. 3, respectfully. As information is completed, the chart continues in the same manner, listing the parents of each member, thus creating another generation.

Their history includes the date and location of the ancestor’s birth, marriage and death.

The staff at the department is able to help a researcher obtain much of the information for the chart, through the use of various resources. These resources include federal census reports, computer databases and military records.

One of the most important places to complete as much of the information as possible is to talk to living family members. They may have access to information from the family Bible, personal letters, legal papers, journals, published obituaries and family stories about the circumstances under which their ancestors lived, worked and worshipped.

No one will have all the answers to complete all the information on the chart, but the more a person can glean from the older family members, the more helpful it will be in completing the goal of finding the person’s history.

Another help is the genealogy class on the first Tuesday of each month. During that session, usually taught by staff member Jere Harris, each member will receive a packet of forms with an explanation on how to fill them out. In the packet are also references to other helpful resources to be used in adding information to a family history.

For those who want to do genealogy on a computer, the department supervisor, Nancy Calhoun, has a class on the first Thursday of each month. The class is usually taught in the Computer Lab on the second floor. Both classes begin at 7 p.m. for about an hour, and there is a signup sheet for those classes in the Genealogy Department. It is important for a patron to sign up so the teachers of each class will have enough material for each person who attends.

A final resource is the local area genealogy group. The Muskogee County Genealogical Society meets every fourth Thursday of each month in the Grant Foreman meeting room at the Muskogee Public Library. The members consists of people who are working on all levels of their family histories, from those who have started with their first chart to those who have volumes of ancestry information collected over many years. These meetings are a great place to discuss problems, solutions and new sources for research.

The Local History and Genealogy Department at the Muskogee Public Library would like to encourage people interested in learning about their history to come to the library to get started.

Nancy Lasater is an assistant in the Genealogy & Local History Department of the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657, Ext. 257.