2016-09-22 / Editorial

It’s family history month at McArthur

Library Links
by Melanie Taylor Coombs

A few years ago, I was asked to teach a class on Ancestry.com for Gold Leaf Senior College. Libraries across Maine have offered free access to Ancestry through our collection of resources called Marvel (Maine’s Virtual Library) for several years now. The genealogy resource is only available inside library walls and is a special edition designed specifically for library users. Ancestry Library Edition is constantly changing and improving so in preparation for the class I started to poke around.

To brush up on my search skills, I randomly selected that name of a former librarian who had passed away in the 1920s. With a bit of digging, I found her birth, marriage, census and death information. There was even an image of the handwritten death certificate dated Aug. 4, 1922, stating that the cause of her death was a pulmonary embolism.

Then, I spent a bit of time researching my grandmother’s name. She was a factory worker from Canada and I did not think I would find much. Curiously, I found she had crossed the border in August 1945. The record held her signature. Instantly there was a sense of familiarity, my Nana had signed the record 70 years before. It can be fun spending a bit of time in the past looking for your ancestors. It can also be mysterious, frustrating or inspirational.

Last year, McArthur Library hosted several events in October to celebrate Family History Month and we are doing it again this year. Monday evenings are for families past and present. Drop in downstairs at 6:30 p.m. for fun family friendly stories and games. Or stop by between 6 and 7:30 p.m. upstairs where two professional reference staff members will be on hand to help you explore our extensive collections or help you get started with Ancestry.com. Beginners are welcome.

As part of the celebration, we have invited Irene Cote Single, author of “Two Countries, Two Women: A Story Based on True Events of Adventure, Faith, Tragedy, and Courage,” to speak at the library. This book grew out of Single’s research into her own family tree. The story is a fictional account based on true events. Fifteen-year-old Odile Jalbert’s marriage is arranged by her father, but when tragedy strikes, she lands with relatives in Sanford. Her strong faith and family connections see her through her struggles. The talk is free and open to the public at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20.

We’ve also invited back genealogist Emily Schroeder from the Maine State Library to talk about Ancestry.com. She will be here from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14.

As always, the Franco-American Genealogical Society of York County meets monthly at the library. The society houses their collection at the library and member Raoul Goulet is an amazing wealth of knowledge. For a nominal fee others can join the group. The October meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19. For more information, there is a link of the library’s webpage.

We hope you enjoy exploring your family tree as part of Family History Month!

Melanie Taylor Coombs is adult services supervisor/ librarian at McArthur Public Library in Biddeford.

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