Sunday, April 21, 2013

LIBRARIES, DNA AND AMERICA


The Farmington Community Library is a district library that serves Farmington Hills and Farmington, Michigan (http://www.farmlib.org). (For those of you unfamiliar with this area, Farmington Hills is in the Southeast corner of Michigan.) I must confess that I hadn’t been to the Farmington Hills Library in several years, and I have never been to the Farmington Library.  Yesterday I visited the Farmington Hills Library to attend a lecture on Genetic Genealogy hosted by the Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan (http://www.pgsm.org). As a member of the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research (http://dsgr.org), I was invited.  

As I walked up to the Farmington Hills Library, I looked down and saw the following tile on the walkway:



I thought it was so appropriate in light of all the horrific events that have been occurring in Boston this last week. As a graduate of Boston University, I felt a special pang of sorrow for the B.U. student who was killed. 

GENETIC GENEALOGY—ROBERT SLIWINSKI

The talk on Genetic Genealogy was given by Robert Sliwinski, a biologist and genetic genealogist, who flew in from Chicago to make his presentation. First of all, he was hilarious—he said his arms hurt from the flight, and he made a great Viking imitation.  Robert gave a two hour presentation (with a short break) on the different DNA testing companies and how DNA can help you with your genealogical research.  He shared his own DNA results as well as photographs and stories from his family. He showed a slide of pictures of his mother and various other female DNA hits—the facial shapes were amazingly similar. His company (DNA Explorers-- www.facebook.com/DnaExplorers) helps people interpret their DNA results. He spoke about markers, haplogroups, genetic distance, genetic sequences, the Seven Daughters of Eve and much more. I have had my DNA tested by Ancestry and 23andme, and I have plenty of questions. I just might hire him to help me.

LIBRARY RESOURCES

I was impressed with the Farmington Hills Library. The presentation was held in an auditorium on the second level. The first level had a well-stocked coffee shop, and the people at the Circulation Desk were helpful.  I didn’t have time to explore the library materials, but I plan to return. In the meantime, I have explored their website http://www.farmlib.org), and it is amazing.

If you click on the Local History Link on the top right, you will see a screen with a number of options. I clicked on Heritage Room Resources and was astonished at all the free information available on the computer in the convenience of one’s home.  For example, under Church Records I found a link to the Farmington Area Genealogical Indexes Online Search Tool  (http://www.farmlib.org/new_fh_obit_index). This tool helps you locate obituaries, maiden names, marriages, surnames and cemeteries.  I entered the surname Cutler and came up with six people along with their dates of death and where their obituaries are located. In some cases there was a direct link to the newspaper page.

FARMINGTON NEWSPAPERS

I went back to the Local History page and clicked on Digital Collections, then Browse/Search Farmington Newspapers (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/newspapers.html). Here I found links to Farmington newspapers from 1888 to 2003 (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/browse_newspapers1.html).There is also a tab where you can search papers from 2003 to the current previous quarter (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/GS_search.html). And, lastly, there’s a tab where you can view the current issue of the Farmington Observer. Old newspapers are great ways to discover information on your ancestors, and the information is FREE.

HISTORICAL MONOGRAPHS

I then went back once again to the Local History page and clicked on Digital Collections.  This time I clicked on Browse/Search our Digitized Historical Monographs (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/digital_collections.html?tpm=1_1). I can’t begin to describe all the goodies you will find here. One in particular that caught my eye was Farmington’s Centennial Families (http://www.farmlib.org/localhist/bpageturn.cgi?id=013).  Be sure to check out the historical monographs.

LOCAL TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES

Once more I returned to the Local History page, Digital Collections. I clicked on FCL Heritage Collection: Local Telephone Directories (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/telephone_directories.html). There are links to the complete Farmington telephone directories as far back as 1939. There are also links to directories for some surrounding towns such as Southfield, Livonia, Walled Lake, Northfield and Mayfair.

HISTORIC IMAGES

As if the above is not enough, there is a tab for Historic Images where you will find pictures and a brief description of Farmington:
  • Churches
  • Hotels
  • Inns & Taverns
  • Schools
  • Street Streets and Scenes

MUCH MORE

There is much more, including a set of links to Oakland County resources (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/web_resources.html?tpm=1_3 ), Michigan resources (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/web_resources.html?tpm=1_2), major genealogical collections (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/web_resources.html?tpm=1_1) and libraries with strong genealogical collections (http://www.farmlib.org/HeritageCollection/web_resources.html?tpm=1_4).

Thank you Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan and Farmington Community Library.

We are so fortunate to live in this great and free country. God bless America!

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