BPL 2019 Family History Month Programs Begin October 1

The Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department is hosting 16 free programs throughout October to celebrate Family History Month.

Programs begin Tuesday, October 1, and the highlight will be an all-day Saturday, October 26, event with four workshops presented by nationally-known genealogy expert John Philip Colletta. Colletta, who resides in Washington, D.C., is well known in Birmingham, serving as a faculty member of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University from 1996 until it relocated to Georgia in 2016.

Since being passed by Congress in 2001, Family History Month  has been observed annually in the United States during the month of October to promote the importance of family and researching your family tree.

If you have been thinking of researching your family tree, getting a DNA test done, or desire to learn more about how to preserve important family photos and documents, BPL has several services and resources available to assist you. Make plans now to attend these free workshops throughout October (most of them will be offered in the Linn-Henley Research Library in downtown Birmingham).

The 2019 BPL Family History Month schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, October 1, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library 
The Bases Are Loaded! Databases for Genealogy- New and Revised! Don’t be left sitting in the dugout. Make use of all our resources in your game plan for family history research. Learn how to locate genealogy databases and discover the wealth of genealogical information they have to offer. Let us help you knock one out of the park.

Frazine Taylor
Saturday, October 5, 10:00 a.m. Arrington Auditorium, Linn-Henley Research Library
Frazine Taylor, President of the Alabama Historical Association
Getting the most out of the Census: Finding Ancestry Clues in Census Records: 1790-1940- Participants in this workshop will become acquainted with information reported in the Federal Census, and in state population and non-population census records. This workshop will include how to locate census records on microfilm, digitized and online, and how to identify and find local resources and repositories.

Monday, October 7, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library 
Researching Your House History - This class will introduce participants to sources available at the library and online to help them research the history of a house in Jefferson County. Participants can learn when a house was built, who has lived there over time, and see historic photos of their house.

Tuesday, October 8, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library
Optimizing Your DNA Genealogy Experience, part 3 - Gain useful information on testing companies’ services and websites, and get answers to your questions about them.

Wednesday, October 9, 3:00 p.m. Southern History Department, 1st Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library
Introduction to Genealogy- Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. The staff in the Southern History Department covers such topics as vital records, courthouse and church records, and the Federal Census.

Monday, October 14, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library
Handle with Care: Preserving Your Family Papers and Photographs - There are many basic and inexpensive things you can do to ensure that your family letters, scrapbooks and photographs are preserved for the future. This talk introduces the fundamentals of home archiving.

Tuesday, October 15, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library
Consumer’s Guide to DNA Testing Services - Explore the offerings of the four major DNA genealogy testing services, and learn how to use their websites.

Monday, October 21, 11:00 a.m. North Birmingham Library
Abandoned African American Cemeteries. Why? - Wanda Looney, of the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group, which meets monthly at the Linn-Henley Research Library, presents this program about the history of the area’s missing and abandoned African American cemeteries.

African American Cemeteries are everywhere. Why? Because they lived and died on farms, in mines etc. They could be under your feet! Most of these cemeteries are still around. They only need you to care for them. Your ancestors are calling.

Tuesday, October 22, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library 
Newspapers.com - Learn how to search our newest history/genealogy database to find articles, obituaries, and other tantalizing bits of information available in newspapers large and small throughout the Southeast.

Thursday, October 24, 3:45 p.m. Avondale Library 
Pizza & the Wayback Machine – This completely interactive after school program for kids and teens (11-18) will be all about family history! We’ll start with an introduction to genealogy and have hands on time with the many online resources available at the library and from home. They’ll be plenty of time for questions, stories, and (of course) pizza!

John Philip Colletta
Saturday, October 26 Arrington Auditorium John Philip Colletta guest speaker 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Free but Registration is Requested

Colletta’s four workshops will be as follows:

Breaking through Brick Walls: Use your HEAD!, 9:30 -10:30 a.m.
When the path of genealogical investigation leads to a brick wall, it’s time to use your head. This lecture offers guidelines and points of methodology for overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, such as: several men of the same name; several towns with the same name; several names for the same town; errors in original sources; families with common surnames; insufficient or contradictory information. Six case studies demonstrate the principles.

Discovering Your Ancestors’ World through Maps and Gazetteers, 10:45-11:45 a.m.
The facts you discover about your ancestors did not occur in outer space. They represent real-life events that took place in a physical place at a particular time. Cartographic collections—maps, atlases and gazetteers—are essential tools for grounding all of your genealogical discoveries in the real world. This lecture describes different kinds of maps, current and historical, U.S. and foreign, and illustrates the broad range of information they provide. It explains how to use Internet sites to locate cartographic collections in libraries, archives, courthouses, historical societies, as well as those available online in digitized format. Specific examples illustrate how maps form an integral part of thorough genealogical investigation.

The County Courthouse: Your ‘Trunk in the Attic’, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Courthouses vary from one county to the next. They may be congenial places to do research or dismal places to do research. They may be modern with records organized for easy access or old and totally chaotic. Some burned down once, some burned down twice. County clerks and their staff members differ dramatically in temperament and expertise, too. In general, though, courthouses are chock full of family information. This lecture examines the full scope of their precious contents and reviews many resources for learning about the records created in your ancestors’ counties. Using courthouses, you will get tired and dirty. But you will reap a rich harvest of information about your ancestors, almost like discovering a trunk in the attic.

Only a Few Bones: Case Studies in Assembling Sources to Reconstruct Real-Life Events, 2:45-4:00 p.m.The biographical facts we discover about our ancestors did not happen in a vacuum. Our ancestors were born, lived and died in specific physical circumstances at specific moments in time. To reconstruct their lives, therefore, the facts we discover about them must be “situated” in the proper historical context. Three 19th-century case studies drawn from Only a Few Bones, a True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath demonstrate how to use multiple sources to assemble vivid accounts of ancestral events and generate biographies that portray individualized ancestors.

Monday, October 28, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library
Degrees of Separation – Not sure how all the branches on your family tree connect? If you’ve always wondered what the difference is between a second cousin and a first cousin once removed, then this class is for you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2:15 p.m. RLCC, 4th Floor, Linn-Henley Research Library 
Your Tax Dollars at Work: Using Government Sources for Genealogy Research- New and Revised! Many government agencies offer resources for genealogical research. Learn how to look beyond census records and find genealogical information in some truly surprising places. You can search for patents, land grants, view web tutorials, and much more using free websites from the state and federal government.