Genealogy is the best scavenger hunt. We all have a great uncle who loves to tell the story of their Civil War grandfather, or their mother who worked as a parachute maker in World War I. And unlike Queen Elizabeth, many of us do not have a lineage chart documenting our stories. Instead, we must dig to find the facts in our family’s folklore. Luckily for us common folk, the Midwest Genealogy Center located in Independence, MO can help us answer one of life’s toughest questions: who am I?
Researching your family’s life and legacy can seem like a daunting task, even for an esteemed historian. Just four generations back reveals 30 individuals connected to you (and that’s just the parents!). If your family has been in the United States since the Colonial Era- even just a small branch- you’re left with hundreds of names to research. Researching takes time and dedication, but becomes much easier with a genealogical research center.
At the Midwest Genealogy Center the primary focus is amateur research. Here, visitors of all backgrounds can learn more about their family’s stories. The center partners with various genealogy and family resources including Ancestry.com, United States and international history databases, and newspaper databases. You can become a member even if you are not a resident of Independence. The center also partners with the Inter-Library Loan program, where visitors can receive books from libraries all over the country. In addition, if you have reached a dead end the center features staff and volunteers who can assist with your research. The center also offers tours. The tours are a great way to familiarize yourself with the center prior to beginning any research. A tour must be scheduled in advance and last about 45 minutes to an hour.
If you are interested in beginning your own genealogy, consider following some of the Midwest Genealogy Center’s guidelines. The center says it’s best to start with yourself, the people you know, and work to the unknowns. Once the names and dates are gathered, make sure they are kept organized in lineage charts and individual information sheets. The center notes the best source for information in the beginning stages is not the internet, but relatives, even distant ones. Finally, when researching, some of the best sources include Federal Records, Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, and Deeds and Wills, all which can be found at their center. They even provide helpful guidelines to help get you started on your journey.