Center devotes resources to helping trace family trees


March 29, 2000|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

YOUR QUEST INTO your ancestry might begin with an old family photograph, or a family legend, or curiosity about your family tree.

A vast resource to aid your search for relatives is the Family History Center, at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4117 Lower Beckleysville Road, Hampstead.

The Family History Center is a library of millions of names from around the world, and particularly Europe. It's stored on CDs, microfilm, microfiche, and in books and other records. A staff of knowledgeable volunteers enjoys explaining how to use a computer to sift through records from the past millennium to find your family.

You can discover how to use these resources at the Family History Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 8 at the center. Workshops will be held to introduce using the center's computers, using local history records, organizing family history information, and using the church's family search Internet Web site.

Members of Carroll County Historical Society, Carroll County Genealogy Association and Carroll County Daughters of the American Revolution will participate and answer questions. The event is free, and the public is welcome.

"We don't charge for use of our services, and we don't advertise. So this resource goes underused," said Richard Tait, bishop for the Hampstead Ward of the church.

By developing the Family History Fair, center officials hope to encourage the public to use it. John Graves is center director.

The center is open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday (except at 9: 15 a.m. Fridays), from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday, the center is usually busy with church members. Services are free. Copying services are at cost, such as a nickel for photocopies and a dime for a disk to download information.

The resources in Hampstead Family History Center are enormous. Indexes contain several million deceased people showing birth, christening, or marriage information. Genealogies submitted to the church list several million people (living relatives are not named to protect their privacy).

A Social Security index, military index, and an index to census records dating back 200, and in some cases, 300 years are available.

The Hampstead center is a branch library of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which houses the world's most extensive collection of European and U.S. genealogical information, with almost 2 million rolls of microfilm and half-million microfiche.

Records can be borrowed from Utah for about $3.

"Any record after 100 years is in the public domain," John William Bankert III said one evening at the center.

He'll most likely suggest searching the International Genealogical Index first, which organizes family names by 21 localities, including countries, U.S. states, and major geographical areas.

Finding your place in the index is like finding a book on a very long shelf.

Prompted by the computer, Bankert whisked disks in and out of the computer like a short-order cook.

He and his wife, Bernardine, were happy to demonstrate how to retrieve names, dates and, in some cases, addresses of family members. You can begin with a name and country of origin. A birth date narrows the field. Other tactics are to start with a maiden name or descendants. The center offers recordkeeping assistance.

The Bankerts love the searchand linking one family member to the next.

They recently volunteered to join 40 genealogies into one unified tree. It took three years.

"We're kind of nuts about this thing. It's a hobby for us," Mrs. Bankert said.

She has uncovered her Ogle family history back to 1055 and the time of Charlemagne. It meant learning to decipher antique forms of logging heredity. During the search, she picked up traces of an ancient family feud over sheep.

Knowing their ancestry is a fundamental tenet of their Mormon faith for the Bankerts and members of the church.

"Everyone here finds family history research meaningful and rewarding," states the published guidelines at the center. "Enjoy yourself and don't hesitate to ask for help or share your experiences."

For days other than the Family History Fair, call before dropping by.

Information: 410-239-2461.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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