eSpotlight - Exploring Family History

Image of a photo album on a wooden table. A page is open showing three black and white photographs of people

"When you start about family, about lineage and ancestry, you are talking about every person on earth." Alex Haley

Exploring Family History Together

The San José Public Library is happy to be a part of Silicon Valley Reads 2019 which kicked off this week and runs through early April, 2019. This annual event is designed to encourage our community to read and discuss a selection of common books. This year's theme of "Finding Identity in Family History" highlights books and events that help us explore and expand our personal stories by understanding our ancestry. Check out the Calendar of Events for dozens of events scheduled throughout Silicon Valley. 

For the past several years, I've embarked on an exploration of my family's origins. Through my research, I've uncovered both funny and tragic stories about my ancestors and made some surprising discoveries. San José Public Library has a large variety of free eResources that helped me with my research and are available to you if you're ready to fill in the branches of your own family tree.

Silicon Valley Reads 2019 Book Selections

Several books have been selected for adults for Silicon Valley Reads 2019. In these stories, each author shares their discoveries and personal revelations as they learned more about their family history. They are available as eAudiobooks or eBooks.

Image of book cover with mother and child standing in front of a church with a shadow of an unknown individual. Text reads "The Stranger in my Genes by Bill Griffeth"Image of book cover with a tree composed of people. Text reads "It's all Relative - Adventures Up and Down the World Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs author of the New York Times bestselling The Year of Living Biblically"Image of book cover with black and white photos of people. Text reads "Finding Samuel Lowe - China, Jamaica, Harlem by Paula Williams Madison

The Silicon Valley Reads 2019 companion book selections for children include these titles also available as eBooks or eAudiobooks:

Image of book cover with young girl in red and white striped outfit. Text reads "Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal"Image of book cover with the face of a dark skinned young girl. Text reads "Brenda Woods - The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond"Image of a book cover showing a young person painting graffiti on a wall. Text reads "Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert"

Beginning Your Exploration

If you are just starting out on an adventure up and down your family tree, these eResources can help you learn how to construct and organize your family story.

Image of book with an old black and white photo of a large family. Text reads "Your Family Tree - Beginning Genealogy - Expert Tips to Help You Trace Your Own AncestorsImage of book cover showing a tree. Text reads "A Beginner's Guide to Online Genealogy - Learn How to Trace Your Family History and Discover Your Roots by Michael Dunn"Image of book cover with three women of different generation looking at a computer. Text reads "AARP Genealogy Online Tech Connect" by Matthew Helm and April Leigh HelmImage of book cover with a family tree. Text reads "How to do Everything Genealogy - Fourth Edition by George G. MorganImage of audio book cover depicting photos of married couple, countryside, old man with a car and a young man. Text reads "Journeys Home - Inspiring Stories Plus Tips and Strategies to Find Your Family History

Continuing the Adventure

If you're like me and have been working on your ancestry for a while, it's likely you've encountered roots of your family tree that just won't untangle. These eResources can help you with more advanced research ideas to help solve those family mysteries.

Image of book showing a family tree with names of family members. Text reads "The Family Tree Problem Solver - Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors by Marsha Hoffman RisingImage of book cover showing an open palm of a hand. Text reads "Advanced Genealogy - Research Techniques by George G. Morgan and Drew Smith"Image of book cover with pictures of a DNA strand and a child having mouth swabbed for DNA. Text reads "Your Family Tree - DNA: Window to the Past - How Science Can Help Untangle Your Family Roots by Jim OllhoffImage of magazine cover with a photo of black adult male in a suit in an office setting. Text reads "Familytree - Finding Your Roots

SJPL Genealogy Blogs and Databases

Your library card gives you free access to an online genealogy database, MyHeritage Library Edition. This database provides access to many different types of vital statistics such as birth, death, marriage certificates, U.S. Census information, immigration records and photos.

Our Genealogy Tips provide many resources in Santa Clara County such as SJPL's California Room and other sources of information across the United States. SJPL staff member, John Muller writes a regular blog The Genealogy Sojourner in which he explores many different aspects of constructing a family history and tracing genealogy.

Exploring your family history doesn't have to be an expensive or complicated adventure. With an SJPL Library Card, you can take advantage of these free eResources and many others as you unearth the history and mystery of your family tree.

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