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Library hosts event on geneology

Photo By: Unsplash


Francesco Corso, News Editor

Ever wondered where your family came from? The Penn State library system is here to help with that. An event hosted the Biology and History Clubs on campus, regarding the various resources that Penn State provides to students, covered just that.

While one may not be concerned with family history now, Reference and Instruction Librarian and Archivist, Jane Ingold, stressed the importance of starting early.

“They should start now while their parents and grandparents or aunts and uncles, and great aunts and uncles are still alive,” Ingold said. “You can always do it later, but the more you find out now from people who have knowledge, the better off you’re going to be later.” 

The event started with a brief presentation about the role family history plays in one’s genes, while also covering popular DNA testing services like 23 and Me. There is a key limitation to this, however. Everyone inherits only 50 percent of their genes from each parent, this means that half of their family history is lost with each generation.

Ingold agreed that this is another reason for getting started early, but claimed there are other reasons as well. “You should do that anyways, just for medical reasons. I know people who were divorced, and they had children... Their children needed to know the other parent’s background, so when they had children, they would know if there’s anything they should be on the lookout for.”

In terms of what Behrend offers, there are a number of resources available to students. “The main one is Ancestry,” Ingold noted. “Now it’s the Ancestry Library Edition, so it’s slightly different than the one you see on TV that you can pay for. One of the big things is you can’t store your data, so it doesn’t have that little leaf that they show on TV that you can click on.” The school also provides access to old news papers, “some going back very very far … a couple of centuries in fact,” according to Ingold.

Furthermore Ingold said, “If your relative happened to be famous, there’s the biography and genealogy index … That tells you when somebody’s in things like ‘Who’s Who in America’ or even smaller publications like ‘Who’s Who in the Southwest’ or ‘Who’s Who in Mathematics’ or something like that … but you have to be obviously famous to be in something like that.”

Students also have access to the public library as well. According to erielibrary.org, “Library cards are free to residents of Erie County, Pennsylvania, college students residing in the county, and anyone with an AccessPA sticker on their home library card. Individuals from out of state or county may purchase a one-year non-resident card for $10.00.”

They have two great sources,” Ingold said. “They have Heritage Quest, which is kinda similar to ancentry.com and more importantly if you have military people, they have Fold3. You can use both of those online. You don’t have to go down there once you go down there and register, but they do also have the heritage room, so if you’re from Erie Country at all, you’re gonna want to check that out because they have a lot of good stuff there.”

All of these resources are also helpful for researching history. Ingold gave the example of Joseph Beilein Jr., Ph.D., an Associate Professor of History at Behrend. “He researches Missouri guerillas from the civil war … so he could use that to find individual people in there and find their background … Other people use it for other history type projects, it doesn’t have to be your family.”