Friday, February 25, 2011

New Ancestry Resources

At the reference desk, we often hear "I already checked that" from search savvy patrons who did some information tracking of their own before turning to the reference staff for help. With a print resource, like a book, you may not need to check more than once to see if the information you're after is in there. It's either in there, or it's not.

Digital resources are a whole different ballgame. Most of our databases are continually updated, with thousands of new records added monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily. So even if you've "already checked that" database, it may be worth another look.

Ancestry is one of these continually updated sources worth checking on a regular basis. Our library invests in an annual Ancestry Library Edition subscription, so that you can access most of their records for free as long as you are in one of our branches.

In 2011, Ancestry has already added significant new African American records, as well as additional resources for folks with English, German, Australian, Canadian, or New Zealand ancestry. The new African American resources include:

Notable Louisiana resources in Ancestry for people tracing African American roots before 1820 include the Louisiana Slave Records 1719-1820 and the Louisiana Freed Slave Records 1719-1820. Louisiana Freedmen's Bureau Records are also available online at, organized by parish.

To receive monthly updates as new records are added, go to and enter your email address in the "Get the Free Newsletter" box in the lower right hand corner of the page. To learn more about tracing your ancestry at Terrebonne Parish Library, drop by the main library, and stay tuned to our blog!
-Jennifer Hamilton

Friday, February 18, 2011

Louisiana Roots: Some Great Local Sources for Genealogy

When you bring your family tree chart to the library to fill in the blanks, one way to begin is to consult records which may contain records of an important event in a known ancestor’s life, such as a birth, marriage or death. Then work backward in time to find connected events. For instance, if you find a record of a direct ancestor’s birth which includes the names of his/her parents, in earlier records you may find those parents’ marriage record, which may contain the name of their parents.

If your family is from the Terrebonne or Lafourche Parish area, the series South Louisiana Records may become your new best friend. These volumes, nicknamed the “Father Hebert books” for their compiler, contain records from local churches and courthouses for the years 1794 through 1920. Another series, South Louisiana Vital Family Records compiled by the Terrebonne Genealogical Society, contain Terrebonne and Lafourche Parish courthouse records from 1902-1941.

Southwest Louisiana Records (which are also sometimes called Father Hebert Books) cover Acadia, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion Parishes (1756-1915.) Ecclesiastic records for the Archdiocese of New Orleans (1718-1831) and the Diocese of Baton Rouge (1707-1900) are in the genealogy collection as well.

Once again, find a record of a life event (birth, marriage, death) of an ancestor in one of these books and work backward from that point. With a little work and some luck, you’ll be able to fill in many unknowns in your family tree!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Credo Reference: A Virtual Reference Shelf You Can Access Online

Do you have a question, and need to find a more reliable answer than whatever pops up on Google? Perhaps you have a paper to write, and you need to cite reliable sources by trusted authors and publishers. Wikipedia is fine for starters, but your teacher won't accept it as a source. Maybe you would just like to have a whole wall full of reference books you can access from home? This week’s featured database, Credo Reference, may make your wishes come true. All you need is a library card and an internet connection.

Credo Reference is an electronic collection of full-text articles from over 500 classic reference books. The content is the same as you would find on the library’s reference shelves, but even more convenient, because Credo Reference is like a search engine for reference books. You can search for keywords, get a list of relevant articles, and read them instantly. While reference books can only be used inside the library, Credo Reference can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection, whether the library is open or not.

Credo Reference also has ready-made Topic Pages for a wide variety of commonly researched topics. In the topic page on pirates shown below, the page has an overview article, images, definitions, suggestions for further reading, web links, and even suggestions for articles in other databases!

You can also use Credo to search for images. Credo has over 200,000 keyword-searchable images. How about audio files? If you need a sound clip of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, you can find it in Credo reference. Credo also allows you to explore links between topics by exploring interactive Concept Maps.

If you need fast access to reliable information, Credo Reference is a great place to start your search. Just go to the library's database page, look under "All Purpose Databases and Encyclopedias", and the search is on!

-Ross Mays
Reference Librarian

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Genealogy Research: The Next Steps

To begin your search for your ancestors, fill out a family tree (pedigree chart) - or simply write down the information you know about your family. Start with yourself and go back in time, entering dates of births, marriages, and deaths for your parents, your grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.

Be sure to use full names, including middle names and nicknames. Use maiden names for women. Ask your relatives to help fill in missing information.

When you have entered all the information you know or can learn about your family, decide which branch of your family you’re most interested in researching. Start with one person. In what state, parish or county, did that person live? Approximately when was the person alive?
Bring your information to the reference desk on the second floor of the Main Library and ask for help. Library staff members will teach you what to do next. The search and the fun begin...

- Judith Soniat
Terrebonne Parish Reference Department