ShareThis Page

Column: Use your library to track down family history

| Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Pam Richter is the technology and marketing librarian at the Baldwin Borough Public Library. Follow the library on Twitter @BBPL, on Facebook Like the Baldwin Borough Public Library and you can email Pam at

“Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” is a popular TV show on PBS in which the host helps people discover long-lost relatives through different genealogy searches and family-tree searches.

But long before this show, people have been interested in tracing their family history. With different technology, more resources are just click away. One resource for finding more genealogical information is

The Allegheny County Library System has a subscription to, so patrons can access this resource in the library for free. Unlike some other electronic resources, this one can be accessed only in the library. However, you can download different documents, save them to a flash drive and take them with you.

Users can find scanned documents, such as Census records. There are different ways to search through the database, including the person or family name, birth year, event and location. You can explore by country, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, other European countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

There also is the option to browse by different special collections, such as passenger lists, Census and voter Lists, obituaries and more.

If you are just getting started in your search, there are forms to download on the site to help you stay organized. This includes an ancestral chart, which allows you to keep track of who is in your family. The research calendar helps you to keep track of every record source you have searched. And the correspondence record is a chart to help you organize who you got in contact with and what information they provided you.

Historical societies, county records offices and historical organizations also are great places for genealogical research. Not everything is available on, but it is a great place to start.

Pam Richter is the technology and marketing librarian at the Baldwin Borough Public Library. Follow the library on Twitter @BBPL, on Facebook Like the Baldwin Borough Public Library and you can email Pam at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.