by Connor Kennedy, Adult Services Librarian | Ives Main Library
Have you ever watched Who Do You Think You Are and wondered about your or a loved one’s family history? Would you love to find out more about where you came from through a trustworthy and extensive resource that is also easy and free to use? Well then, the New Haven Free Public library would be a great place to begin your search.
Just recently, the New Haven Free Public Library was named a FamilySearch affiliate library. This means that you, as an NHFPL patron, may create a free account and access a larger number of records on FamilySearch.com from any of our NHFPL locations, as long as you are on library property (both wired and wireless). This is great news for anyone wishing to start genealogical research of their own family or is just interested in finding out more about history. This is especially helpful, as our previous genealogical research resource, Ancestry.com, is unfortunately no longer available to library patrons.
Accessing records on FamilySearch can be done within minutes. First, you can now access FamilySearch.org through the NHFPL’s website, either on the Local History or the E-Resources page. Setting up a profile on FamilySearch.org is quite easy, as it only requires a name, date of birth, and a username and password. The process can be finished quickly and now you can find the history of any relatives who had lived in the United States.
FamilySearch’s location on the NHFPL Local History page.
The create-an-account page on FamilySearch.
Once you have created your account, you are free to carry out searches related to any relative you wish to locate. It’s quite easy, as all you need for a basic search of historical records is a first and last name, and a birth date, if possible. Once you search, depending on the availability of records, you may very well see a relative’s name pop up, whether it is a census form, an enlistment form, or even a marriage record.
The search page on FamilySearch once you have created a profile
Once you put in a name you should get a list of results, some of which should hopefully be relevant to the individual(s) that you are searching for, and you can narrow it down based on several factors such as the date of life events.
Enter a relative’s name and birth date if you know it. Then click search!
The results page when searching for my great-grandfather. The first result is his military draft registration, giving details of his life from 1918.
You can also search through a huge collection of records on the site, by searching within the catalog search function. Through this, you can discover books, online materials, microfilm, and publications from FamilySearch, as well as other institutions nationwide that have added to the collection. This opens larger doors in your search for knowledge of your family history, should you have a relative elsewhere within the United States.
The FamilySearch Catalog page.
You may also search a massive collective family tree on the website, tracing back relatives, sometime for generations, leading to names that you’re just encountering for the first time. These could open new doors of understanding your family’s past and where they came from, using resources that you would never have found without this expanded access. The only way this is possible is through the FamilySearch community, who, through collaborative research, build a history around shared relatives.
The FamilySearch Family Tree page.
All of these things can act as first steps in your journey. And of course, if you had family local to the New Haven area, you can always come in to use any of our additional resources to try to find out even more, whether it’s looking for obituaries in our New Haven Register microfilm collection, (covering years ranging from 1871 through 2019) a relative’s name in our large collection of directories, or even browsing through published histories of New Haven and other Connecticut towns. All of these resources are available freely to you so that you can continue your search for your family’s history.