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Genealogy club gets back to its origins

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Posted: Monday, May 9, 2011 1:15 am

Dian Moore of Crawfordsville has been exploring her family roots since she was a teenager.

Even though the hobby has turned into a passion for her, Moore stumbled into it largely by accident.

“When I was in high school, I was standing in the library and my mother told me we had to get going so I had to hurry up,” Moore said. “I grabbed two books — one was a biography and one was a genealogy book.”

Moore has done much of her genealogy research with the help of materials at the Crawfordsville District Public Library and the Montgomery County Genealogy Club, which meets at the library the second Tuesday of each month. Once every three months, an after-hours genealogy session is conducted at the library beginning at 5 p.m. The next session will be in July.

Dellie Craig, CDPL reference and local history librarian, became interested in genealogy 40 years ago.

“I knew I had seven Revolutionary War soldiers as ancestors,” she said. “My mom had always researched our genealogy, so I was ahead of the game. But when I married my husband 40 years ago, he didn’t even know his grandmother’s name.”

Craig enjoys helping people who are searching for their roots.

“Some come very well-prepared and some don’t have any idea where to start,” she said.

Many times, people will start delving into family history after the death of a loved one.

“When a family member passes away, people start thinking about all the questions they should have asked,” Craig said. “They come looking for medical things, birth and death records. Some people come in and know exactly what they want, and others aren’t really sure.”

Each year, patrons from an average of 34 states come to CDPL to research their genealogy.

Craig spends much of her time at the library scanning documents, books and vital records and putting them into computer databases that patrons can use to research their ancestry. This way, original documents, which are stored in a climate-controlled room at the library, don’t have to be handled each time a patron wants to look at them (Craig will pull the documents if they are requested, however).

A plethora of databases are available for patron use, including HeritageQuest, cemetery records, yearbooks, probate documents and church records.

Moore is impressed with the genealogy resources available at the CDPL.

“This library has done an incredible amount of indexing,” she said. “Things are very easy to find.”

Over the years, the way Moore does her genealogy research has evolved. She has corresponded with people to glean information about her family tree, and she has read history books.

“I do a lot of it online now,” she said. “It’s a mix of information, and of course it’s only as good as the work of the people who’ve compiled it.”

But what Moore enjoys most is actually traveling to trace her ancestry.

“The best way to do it and the most fun way is to go to a town and look up records in their courthouse,” she said.

Moore, who was born in Elkhart to Canadian parents, has traveled to Lancaster, Pa.; Kingston, Ontario, Canada; and western New York. She hopes to go to South Dakota in the next couple of weeks.

Moore has always been a fan of stories.

“Genealogy and history are stories,” she said.

Moore worked as the local historian and genealogy librarian at CDPL from 2001-10. She now works part-time at the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County.

The thing Moore loves the most about researching genealogy is that there is always a new discovery waiting to be made.

“Every time you find a new ancestor, he has two parents,” she said with a chuckle. “You never reach the end, it just keeps doubling.”

Craig still finds it exciting when CDPL patrons discover new things about their heritage.

“It’s fun to help someone find their ancestors,” she said. “Genealogy can really tell you something about what makes a person who they are.”

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