WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY(WBRE/WYOU-TV) – As technology evolves day after day, sometimes we still need a blast from the past.
Especially when it comes to digging deeper into our roots.
October is National Family History Month!
The James V. Brown Library is making it easy for people to find out where they really came from..especially those with origins right here in Lycoming County.
Family history..it’s what makes us all unique.
“As far as I know, like on my moms side, it’s all Pennsylvania Dutch and German. That’s pretty much it and my dad’s side there’s some Nigerian, Native American,” said Elizabeth Harvey of Williamsport.
“Well I know my dad’s family came over from Italy and my mom, I’m not quite sure about,” said Luka Thomas of Montoursville.
“I think my father has some German background and my mother some Slovakian,” said Clarence Livengood of Johnstown.
A lot of that family background comes from talking to – family!
“Pretty much I can ask my aunts and uncles and they would pretty much give it to me straight away,” said ALyssa Erb of Williamsport.
Or we can turn to an online search engine.
Roughly eight million Americans are believed to be actively searching for more information about their ancestors.
But at a certain point..
“They kind of hit a wall,” said Public Service Director at the James V. Brown Library, Toby Schwartzman.
What’s next? Enter the Public Library.
“Sometimes they’re local sometimes they’re out of state but they’re just looking for that one break and it might be in an obituary that was published here in williamsport,” said Schwartzman.
In a world of computers or smartphones…that’s where the microfilms at the James V. Brown library come into play.
“Microfilms is almost like 35 milimeter film that you would have used in your camera. They’re big reels of it. Basically what they did is they took the old newspapers and they laid them out and they filmed them,” said Schwartzman.
These films have newspaper articles about people and events dating all the way back from 1807!
“I spend a lot of time at the library so that would be pretty good,” said Thomas.
“See my mother was adopted so you couldn’t trace her last name,” said Livengood.
“Usually the best thing you can do if you know the death date or marriage date of the person you’re looking for, the obituaries will often list other families names. You’ll geet maiden names, parents names, children’s names and that can be a good lead for people,” said Schwartzman.
The microfilm is a tool that you might not think of using right away…but with the switch of a button, it comes in handy when you do.
“I did find out that we have some ancestors that were amish,” said Erb.
“we had one gentleman in not too long ago who his father had been arrested during prohibition for making hooch locally over in Muncy so he was looking for the article on his fathers arrest,” said Schwartzman.
“It’s very intriguing,” said Harvey.