New Year, New Resolution! Getting Started with your Genealogy
If you’ve gotten away from your genealogy for a while or if the holiday gatherings this season have sparked your interest in your family’s history, look no further. KCPL has a dedicated Local History & Genealogy Department and staff ready to assist you with your goal of discovering your family’s story.
The Local History & Genealogy Department is located on the second floor of our Covington branch at 502 Scott Boulevard in Covington, Kentucky. Our department is full of all kinds of resources that can help you to discover your family history: from books to microfilm, to maps and vertical files, and let’s not forget online databases!
First things first: where to start? We recommend starting to write down what you already know about your family. Start with a basic family tree (we like this one via Mid-Continent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center) and fill out what you know starting with yourself. Start talking with your relatives – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins – to fill in as many details as you can. Ask for names (don’t forget to include maiden names and nicknames), dates (birth, marriage, and death), and places where they lived or may have come from. Check out our blog on ice-breaker questions here.
Once you’ve done that, look for any gaps you might have in your tree – that’s a good place to start! Start looking for basic information in birth indexes, death records, and censuses, which often give you clues as to parentage (thus helping you take your tree back a generation!). We like starting our searches online because many of these records are being digitized by companies such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, and FindMyPast, just to name a few. Some of these websites require a subscription to access their records, but don’t worry, we’ve got your covered! If you access these databases through our website, you can use them within the library free of charge or at home by typing in your library card number. Ancestry & FindMyPast are only available inside any branch of the Kenton County Public Library. We’ve linked these websites and a bunch of others on the Genealogy section of our website under the link titled “Research Tools.”
We also have a sizeable collection of records on microfilm that you will not find on websites such as Ancestry or FamilySearch. Our holdings range from local church records, personal papers, tax records, funeral home records, cemetery records, and so much more. See the full guide to our microfilm collection here. Some of these records have been indexed and are available on our in-house database: GeNKY. You will also find the index to our Local History Files and Family Files on GeNKY. Whenever possible, we scan documents that have been donated to us and make those available on GeNKY, too, which is where you’ll find gems such as the Kenton County Coroner’s Inquest Records, Northern Kentucky Real Estate Records, Northern Kentucky High School Yearbook Index and Linden Grove Cemetery Records, just to name a few.
Once you’ve got the basics sorted out and want to dig a bit deeper, consider searching local newspapers. We have access to a handful of local newspapers online where you can search for your relatives and what they might have been up to. On the Genealogy section of our website, click on “Newspapers” for a full list of our online newspaper databases. We have the Cincinnati Enquirer 1841-2009, the Kentucky Post 1990-2007 (and a trial that covers through 1962!), as well as the Chicago Defender, and Louisville Courier Journal 1830-1922. We also have many local newspapers on microfilm, and we are in the process of indexing those (you can find the Northern Kentucky Newspaper Index here).
We also offer one-on-one genealogy research assistance – just give us a call to sign up for a time slot. Additionally, we offer an assortment of classes on genealogy and local history every month, so be sure to check our online calendar for other events, too!
Feel free to contact the Local History & Genealogy department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 962-4070 if you have any questions. We are always happy to help you discover your family’s history!
This post was written by Krysta Wilham, Programmer in the Local History & Genealogy Department at Covington.
Updated: January 2020