Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

October 4, 2010

Celebrate ‘Family History Month’

By Cindy Rutledge

— Several years ago, I did not attend a family reunion because of a scheduling conflict. The aunt who had kept “the family statistics” decided she was ready to hand the job over to someone else. My mother volunteered me and I learned to never miss a family reunion.

I must admit that I was the kid who was always interested in the family stories. My interest in family history grew despite my enforced volunteer work and has turned from an avocation into a vocation.

Genealogy has become one of America’s favorite pastimes. Millions from all different backgrounds have discovered the joys and frustrations of family history research. Thanks to recent television shows like NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” and PBS’s “Faces of America,” more people are starting their ancestor hunts. Today it is believed that more than 80 million Americans are actively seeking information about their ancestors.

Since 2001, Family History Month has been celebrated during October. Since then, the idea has mushroomed until it is now celebrated all over America. This year observe Family History Month by visiting your local library. Every Hendricks County library has something that could help in your research.

The Danville-Center Township Public Library was the first county library to establish an Indiana Room in 1966. The collection focuses on Danville, Central Normal College and Canterbury College, Hendricks County, Indiana history, and genealogy materials from Indiana and other states. Resources include family histories, family files, yearbooks, newspapers, photographs, and obituary and cemetery indexes. Online databases are available to help with family research and they include Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest Online, and Footnote.com.

In 1968, the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library started its Local History and Genealogy Services. The collection includes Plainfield history, Hendricks County history, genealogy, family histories, and local newspapers. Special features include an obituary index, family history files, Quaker records, Plainfield and Hendricks County photographs, and biography files. The available online databases include Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest Online, Footnote.com, and in-house databases for Obituaries, Cemeteries, Military, and Marriage.

The Brownsburg Public Library launched its Local History section in 1999. The collection focuses on Brownsburg history with some from Pittsboro. It includes photograph and newspaper collections. BPL’s online databases include Ancestry, E-Obits, and Brownsburg: Then and Now project which has historical Brownsburg digital photographs.

In June, the Avon-Washington Township Public Library dedicated its new Huron Heritage Room. The collection concentrates on Avon and Washington Township history. The materials include manuscripts, documents, diaries, maps, photographs, oral histories, and yearbooks. Avon also has Heritage Quest.com and Footnotes.com available for patrons.

The Clayton-Liberty Township Public Library has a small collection focusing on Clayton and Liberty Township. It includes yearbooks, obituaries, and family histories.

A small collection about the 1948 tornado that hit Coatesville, Hadley, and Danville can be found at the Coatesville-Clay Township Public Library. The collection includes newspapers, photographs, and a video.

During October, special programs are scheduled in honor of Family History Month at both the Danville and Plainfield libraries. Check with the libraries to find out about these unique events.

Grab someone in your family, a neighbor, or a friend and spend a few minutes or a few hours or a few days honoring your ancestors during October. However, beware — family history research is very addictive! Thirty years later, and I am still keeping those family records. Enjoy the ancestor hunt!

— Cindy Rutledge is the Indiana Room Manager at the Danville Public Library.