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Library offers tools to uncover family histories

Anyone wishing to know more about their family’s history may find what they are looking for in the Demopolis Public Library’s genealogy department, which houses several collections of public records reflecting the history of Alabama, Marengo County and Demopolis.

They also have the Luke Bragg Collection, which is comprised of genealogical and local history records, and the Winston Smith Collection, which is a number of books and articles written by Winston Smith about the history of Demopolis.

Sandy Dickie, who is in charge of genealogy and local history at the library, said that the first step in finding one’s family history at the library is to gather as much information as they can and share it with the librarians so they can see if they have anything of interest.

“It just depends on what information they have that we can gather from,” Dickie said.

The library has a collection of newspaper clippings, microfilms, census records, bible records, maps, books, newsletters from the Marengo County Genealogical Society and family files. Many resources are also digitized and available online.

Individuals can also search online by looking through the digitized material, researching the suggested reading on Demopolis or follow other links provided on the website. The library will also give refer individuals to local genealogists who can help if more in-depth research is required.

“We just try to help as much as we can with what we have at our fingertips,” Dickie said.

The library will also send documents to anyone who can’t make it to the library.

“If they contact us and can’t get here and we do find items in our collection, we scan and email them,” Dickie said.

While those searching won’t find birth or death records, they could uncover burial sites, occupations, will records, property records, census records or even new family members.

The library also keeps a register at the main circulation desk on the first floor so others researching the same family can leave contact information in order to share research.

The genealogy department has been in operation since the library opened. Several resources were donated by Gwyndolyn Turner, and the collection can be found in the Gwyndolyn Collins Turner Reading Room at the library. The Wallace Harper Conference Room houses the library’s collection of microfilm.

Access to the genealogy department is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To contact the library about genealogy needs, email demopolislibrary@gmail.com.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, January 27 issue of the Demopolis Times.)