For those who are wondering about what their great-great-uncle was like, how they could dig up information on their grandmother or how they could record their own family history, Ancestry.com is now available for free use at the Weston Public Library. In addition, former First Selectman Woody Bliss’s class on genealogy will begin again this fall.
The database was loaded onto computers on June 27 in an ongoing effort to add to the technology and research capabilities of the library.
“I’m excited to offer this great new electronic resource to the public,” said Karen Tatarka, Weston’s library director. “You can look out for more of them in the near future.”
Mr. Bliss, who originally wanted Weston’s library to become the “genealogical center of Fairfield County,” is now seeing this goal coming to fruition. Most libraries in the area do not offer this unique service, and on its own, a subscription to Ancestry.com costs more than $300 per year.
The database’s user-friendly interface makes it a good research tool and gives ready access to 10 billion records and more than 30 million family trees. Since people can document their own genealogy using the source and those in charge of the database are constantly adding to it, the site is becoming larger every day.
Mr. Bliss, who has had a passion for genealogy since the 1980s, offered a class on genealogical research this past spring. He plans to offer another in the fall, with a focus on how to use Ancestry.com.
“Ms. Tatarka has done a fabulous job implementing this resource so that people can go into the library and do research for free,” he said.
In his class, students learn how to enter their own genealogical data and find reliable sources of genealogical information. The classes are also comprehensive in the sense that students learn to work with both paper and electronic resources.
“I start with my students by telling them to write everything they know about their genealogy on paper first, so that when they get to a computer they realize how much easier it is,” said Mr. Bliss.
The classes are free and open to the public and usually include 10 to 12 students. There are five sessions and each is taught weekly on a designated day for about an hour and a half.
“My favorite aspect of teaching this class is seeing people get excited when they find an ancestor they had never heard of,” Mr. Bliss said.
“The beauty of it is that you’re never done. There’s always more to find,” he said.