Free Genealogy Services Through the Library

Guest blog by Christian Knoll

Since 1974, the Larimer County Genealogical Society has helped those who are interested in their family history get in touch with their roots.

Driven to learn and share their interest of genealogy with others, members of this nonprofit organization offer free genealogy classes and learning programs available through the Poudre River Public Library District.

Partnership with the Library District

Learning, research, and fellowship are the core values of the geological society. With access to numerous national databases and archives, local libraries like the Poudre River Public Library District provide perfect venues for instilling these values into the community using public space, online resources, and education.

“We naturally gravitated toward it,” said Glenn York, President of the Larimer County Genealogical Society (LCGS). “One of our major goals is to support any public genealogical library in Colorado. Many libraries, including the Library District, have access to national archives and databases. This is not only useful for us, but to many of our participants as well.”

Ancestry for the Library is one of the many eResources available for researching your family tree and discovering amazing stories.

Tracing Your Lineage

There is a lot to consider when investigating your lineage. Which side of your parents do you want to research? Where did your ancestors live? Did they emigrate from another country? This line of questioning may seem intimidating for those who do not know where to start. Fortunately, genealogical society volunteers are there to help guide you through the process and point you in the right direction.

“Many people come in with something as simple as a birth certificate,” York said. “But sometimes all you really need is a name, date, and location of a specific individual. From there, a lot of people tend to fall into a rabbit hole of their family history.”

Familial documentation provides great insight for those interested in genealogy, but many choose to go deeper into their roots. DNA sequencing is another component many genealogists look at when tracing their lineage. While the LCGS does not provide their own DNA sequencing services, they can help you understand how the process works and teach you to interpret the genetic information through several classes and study groups held in the public libraries around Fort Collins.

Genealogy Resources

Information can be easily accessed through several online resources available on the Library District’s website, with the most popular resource being a free version of Ancestry. These resources provide information such as state and federal censuses, addresses, photos, and more. All you need to access this information is a Poudre River Public Library card!

Sifting through these documents can seem challenging at times. Fortunately, LCGS volunteers aid participants in navigating and understanding these online resources.

The microfilm reader at Old Town Library is one of the many tools available to research your family history.

“It sometimes is about following a paper trail to really find out what you want to know,” said Larry Doyle, a Genealogical Society volunteer. “There is a massive amount of information available on these sites, and people don’t sometimes know what they are looking at. That’s where we come in.”

Individuals whose families lived in Colorado for generations will be pleased to know about the archived newspapers and historical documents that have been digitized onto microfilm. Some of these documents date to the late 1800s and provide many a first-hand look at local history. Local historical documents can be accessed online as well from the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

For more information about the Larimer County Genealogical Society, visit their website. To view additional information and genealogy resources, visit the Poudre River Library District’s Genealogy and History page.

About the Author

Christian Knoll is a media specialist with a passion for creative storytelling. He possesses a multitude of interests including photography, videography, graphic design, and writing. His work has been featured on several online platforms, namely Colorado State University’s SOURCE news outlet.

Christian currently volunteers with the Poudre River Public Library District as a digital media specialist. His goals aim to inform the public about many programs and amenities the Library District offers. When he is not working, he spends his time traveling, hiking, or talking with close friends over a freshly brewed cup of coffee. To see more of his work, visit his online portfolio.