Want to Know Your Ancestors? Local Resources Can Help

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by Emma Young

October is Family History Month and the time has never been better to explore your own genealogy. “Americans are obsessed with ancestry,” states a May 2014 Time Magazine Article by Gregory Rodriguez. According to a 2005 poll conducted by Market Strategies Inc and MyFamily.com, an estimated 73% of Americans are interested in discovering their family history and ABC News recently claimed genealogy is the second most popular hobby, behind gardening, and the second most visited category of website in the United States.

For local residents, those claims hold true. Prince William County resident Susan Maher has found deep satisfaction in discovering her family roots. “Searching and finding my ancestors gives me a sense of belonging. As I look into records and discover their stories, it helps me understand who I am,” she states. “At times I feel I am in a treasure hunt and when I finally find the information the sense of pleasure is indescribable,” Maher enthused. Montclair resident Nancy Pratt would agree. Seeking her family history has enhanced her life. She has found the living, by searching for those who have passed. “I have not only found ancestors but cousins I never knew who are alive,” Pratt eagerly described.

Want to enrich your life by discovering your ancestors? For Family History Month, we thought the Prince William County resources below could help.

  • For those with local roots, the Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center (RELIC) at the Bull Run Regional Library in Manassas has a unique and extensive collection focused on genealogy and local history, in particular Virginia and Prince William County. The knowledgeable staff are trained to help people trace their family ancestry. The Center operates the same hours as the Bull Run Regional Library and can be also be reached via phone (703) 792-4540 or e-mail relic2@pwcgov.org
  • The Prince William County Genealogy Society was in part founded to assist residents with their local ancestral searches. Volunteers meet the second Tuesday of the month at the Hillendale Volunteer Fire Station in Dale City. You can reach the society via e-mail at pwcgs@live.com
  • Branches of the world-renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City are found across the nation, including Dale City. Located inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at 3000 Dale Blvd., the purpose of the local Family History Center is to give the public personal assistance, classes and records access to those seeking their genealogy and ancestors. All services and assistance are free, with experienced Family History Consultants available during open hours. The Dale City location is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00a-12:30p and 6:30p-8:30p and the third Sunday of each month from 7:00p-8:30p. The Family History Center can be reached via phone (703) 670-5977 or e-mail VA_Woodbridge@ldsmail.net
  • Believe you have an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution? Local chapters of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution can help you confirm and trace your patriot lineage. Contact the Registrar of each chapter to get started. In Manassas, the Elizabeth McIntosh Hammill Chapter e-mail is emhregistrar@gmail.com In Dale City, the Prince William Resolves Chapter e-mail is Registrar_PWR@outlook.com
  • Online, you can find your local ancestors through free resources such as FamilySearch (http://www.FamilySearch.org), a nonprofit family history organization dedicated to connecting families across generations. You can readily find information on ancestors there, as well as manage and share information with other family members. Although you can discover family from any land, they have a wiki dedicated to Prince William County genealogy at the following link: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Prince_William_County,_Virginia_Genealogy

Interested in celebrating Family History Month another way? Try the following activities:

  1. Conduct and record interviews with family members.
  2. Create a family cookbook.
  3. Compile and label family photos, whether in print or online.
  4. Take a trip to sites important to your family- the spot your grandparent’s became engaged, your first home, or where you found that stray pup that became your family dog, it’s all good fun!

Happy Family History Month Prince William County!


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