Friday, March 23, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are, BPL?

Ancestry Library Edition Home Page
Hollywood has tapped into the popular trend of genealogy, banking on people’s desire to explore their past to enlighten their present.

NBC's hit show "Who Do You Think You Are?" allows us to journey with celebrities on their climb up their family trees, often stopping at branches of self-discovery. A labor of love from executive producer Lisa Kudrow, best known as Phoebe from “Friends,” the show is an adaptation of a British documentary series. Each episode takes us along as one of the celebrities navigates through records, personal accounts, historical events, and familial traditions to uncover ancestral pasts and identities. Most episodes are emotional, but all are revelatory.

Birmingham Public Library patrons can also jump on board to uncover their family history with the Ancestry Library Edition (ALE), a free in-library service. Through ALE, people can search through various resources: census and voter lists; birth, marriage, and death records; military records; immigration and travel documents; and newspapers and periodicals. There are also charts and forms available for download and print, such as an ancestral chart.

However, the institutional site of ALE differs from in that some features are not available, such as: family trees; historical newspaper collections; family and local history collections; obituary collections; the Periodical Source Index (PERSI); the Filby’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index (PLI); the Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI); and Freedman’s Bank Records. Those personalized functions must be acquired through an membership.

The ALE resource is a free service in any Catalog and Database station in the Birmingham Public Library branches. It is for in-library use only, and you must have a library account and card to use the database. If you do not have a library card, you may apply in-person at one of the branches. For more information on how to obtain a library card, click here.

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