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Genealogy resources are the focus of Washington Memorial Library class

Hoping to learn more about their ancestries, more than two dozen people attended a genealogy research day at Macon’s Washington Memorial Library Saturday.

As people research their family histories online, they might forget that other resources are available at the library’s Genealogical and Historical Room, said Georgette Lipford, president of the Central Georgia Genealogical Society. The society co-hosted Saturday’s event.

The specialized section of the library holds 32,000 books, newspapers on microfilm, city directories and other useful tools, she said.

“Some of that is online, but a lot of it is not,” Lipford said. “To really do serious research, you need to make a trip here once and a while. Once you’ve gotten started online, you need to come here.”

During Saturday’s event, Lipford and other members of the genealogical society helped first-timers and other researchers navigate the library’s holdings.

Librarian Muriel Jackson told the group they could find records relating not just to Georgia, but to all the 13 original colonies, states stretching into the northeast, the northwest and even California and Alaska.

“We think people weren’t mobile. ... People were moving more than we give them credit for,” Jackson said. “They just had a very much more difficult journey in the wagon versus us in the minivan.”

The room also houses Native American data and books containing records from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. While record books for other countries are available, they’re more difficult to find in English translations, she said.

Teresa English, one of the workshop’s attendees, said she first started researching her family history about two years ago.

“I’d been hearing stories, from my whole childhood, about where we came from and what our family was like. Not all the stories made sense,” said English, who lives in Macon. “I just started because I wanted to know the truth.”

In her short time researching, English said she’s found some discrepancies in what she’d grown up being told. For example, she’s learned her family came from England -- not Ireland as she’d always heard.

“Every little nugget of information I find is part of the larger picture,” she said. “It’s fascinating.”

While English said she’s used the library’s Genealogical and Historical Room, she said she attended Saturday’s class to learn more about the available resources.

“I’ve got a lot more areas that I’m going to look at today that I didn’t know existed,” she said.

Annie Moore said she was looking for more recent records -- those from 1920 forward -- to help track down her aunts and uncles.

“My daddy had 14 sisters and brothers,” said Moore, who lives in Twiggs County.

Moore said she wants to be able to contact representatives from each of her aunts’ and uncles’ families to invite them to family reunions.

She describes herself as a “family history nut” who so far has gotten most of her information from other family members.

After gathering information on her aunts and uncles, she hopes to research her grandparents’ sisters and brothers, Moore said.

About 10,000 people -- locals, folks from across the country and those from outside the United States -- visit the Genealogical and Historical Room each year, Jackson said.

The library holds a class monthly teaching people how to use www.ancestry.com, a popular family history research website. The next class is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 28.

The Central Georgia Genealogy Society is scheduled to hold an instructional seminar Aug. 6 at the Perry library from 6-8:30 p.m.

Jackson said staff from the Genealogical and Historical Room are willing to answer questions via email and letter. Visit www.bibblib.org/genealogy-archives for guidelines and information about submitting a question.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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