ABQ has great, free resources to help you find branches in your family tree - Albuquerque Journal

ABQ has great, free resources to help you find branches in your family tree

Cathryn Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal

Do you know your family history? Where did they live? Did family members serve in the military? What jobs did they have? What education? What were their experiences during the depression? Did they encounter the Spanish Flu of 1918?

And if you are the person who knows the answers to the family history questions, how are you sharing the information?

There are resources to help you research and document your family history. The National Archives and the local treasure of the Genealogy Center located in the Main Library in Albuquerque can get you started, help you discover your ancestry, and provide ideas on recording it all.

National Archives

As the depository of the federal government’s records deemed of permanent value for historical purposes, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) houses records that can be helpful to persons who wish to trace their ancestry. NARA maintains records that are of great use to genealogical researchers. The U.S. Census, taken every 10 years since 1790, is a very important source and, thanks to partnerships among NARA and other organizations, all censuses taken more than 72 years ago have been made available to the public online. The 1950 census was released in April. NARA also holds records documenting military service, passenger arrival, naturalization, taxation, court actions, land ownership and much more.

Below are suggestions from the National Archives:

Start with what you know

Begin with your immediate family. Write down names, dates of birth, marriages, deaths and other important milestones. Ask the other “branches” of the family to help fill in the information. Find out where they lived. That will be important for searches in those city, county and state records.

Look for records you or family members may have.

The family Bible may contain records of births, marriages and deaths. Find the box of family newspaper clippings, military records, certificates, immigration papers and other memorabilia. Look for and ask relatives if they know about any saved cards or letters, scrapbooks, photo albums or other books where events are recorded.

Interview relatives

Really take the time to interview relatives. Write down the questions, including follow-up questions that will give you more specifics. Older relatives have told family stories for years and often start leaving out details. Consider an audio or video recording of interviews to capture their own words.

If you have photos, ask for help to identify the people, their approximate age, location the photo was taken and date.

State, county and local records

The New Mexico State Records Center and Archives is a major source of information for any individual whose roots form part of New Mexico’s rich history. The collection of records is large, from the obvious to records you might not think of.

County records may include deed, probate, criminal and civil court, tax and voting records.

Local records including places of worship may have documents, for example membership directories. If you discover membership in organizations, such as veteran groups, fraternal organizations or volunteer groups, their records may be available for review.

The Genealogy Center has many of state, county, and local records.

Genealogy Center

The Genealogy Center is on the second floor of the Main Library in Downtown Albuquerque. It includes a non-circulating collection of over 25,000 titles and 38,000 volumes organized by country, state and county; a computer lab dedicated to genealogy research with databases of special interest to genealogists; a microfilm collection and machines for viewing microfilm and microfiche; on-site databases developed by the Albuquerque and New Mexico Genealogical Societies; and staff and volunteers ready to help you with your research. The vast resources include information from throughout the United States.

Not only do they have the largest collection of genealogy material in the state, you can get free research assistance. Whether you are just starting or hit a challenge in your research, visit between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on research day, the last Tuesday of the month. In the computer lab, with your library card, you can access Ancestry.com at no cost. Volunteers can help you find the resources to trace your family history. Email librarygenealogy@cabq.gov or call (505) 768-5131 for more information.

I visited the center and was impressed with the collection, the description of how volunteers contribute to this treasure and their desire to help people find their history. It’s yours; enjoy it.

Sources: National Archives: archives.gov/riverside/how-to-begin-genealogical-research National Archives, census: archives.gov/research/census/online-resources NM State Archives and Libraries: statearchives.us/new-mexico.htm Genealogy Center: https://abqlibrary.org/genealogy

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