Trying to trace your roots and learn more about genealogy? Click to get started with Heritage Quest.
I like Heritage Quest because it is simple, streamlined, and well-organized. On the main page your six options are clearly laid out, with little descriptions of what you can find in each place.
This database provides many years of census data (1790-1940-with a small gap from 1830-1850), and searching within Heritage Quest for census images is extremely intuitive. The basic search of a person’s surname yields a list of results for each year that can be expanded according to state. For the Smiths and Joneses of the world, the Advanced Search is handy, as it gives you additional limiters like County, Location, Age, Sex, Race, and Birthplace. The resulting image is a prime example of hard-to-read old-fashioned handwriting, but you do have the option to zoom and view the image in either positive or negative exposure. An alternative to “searching” census records is “browsing”, which just allows you to flip through census pages that can be narrowed down by location, but have not yet been indexed by name. Switch between these two options using the link at the menu bar at the top of the page.
The books section is a very valuable tool, especially for those branches that have a much smaller local history/genealogy section than others. Heritage Quest is proud to offer over 28,000 family and local history books. Searches are categorized by People, Places, or Keywords. For instance, typing in Montgomery County, Virginia provides full access to books such as “The Montgomery County Story.” There is a wealth of varied resources on the general topic of southwest Virginia, including titles like “Annals of southwest Virginia, 1769-1800” which includes minutes from the Montgomery County court, briefs of wills, and lists of marriages. Once you have your list of results, click “View Image” to look at each page of the entire book, or click “View Hits” to skip to the exact page where your keyword shows up.
(access for a price)
PERSI (the Periodical Source Index) was created by staff at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and it contains over 2 million genealogical articles from the periodicals of thousands of organizations. This is a coveted resource, because these articles are not available anywhere else online. You can search by people or places, find articles on genealogical research methodologies, and browse publications by name. Here are a few examples of the types of periodicals you might find:
Virginia Appalachian Notes
Virginia Historical Reporter
Southwest Virginia Ancestors
But wait! Access to these articles is not as simple as with the books that are offered online in this database. They have not been digitized, so a request form must be filled out in order to get a copy sent from Indiana. The request must be mailed (not phoned, faxed, or e-mailed), and there is a flat fee of $7.50 plus $0.20 per page of each article. Only six requests can be made at one time, and the process typically takes 6-8 weeks.
If you’d like to learn about other places you can find information, ask at the desk for our brochure! It’s a wonderful guide to local genealogical resources, expanding beyond our databases and providing descriptions and contact information for other repositories such as the Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center and Roanoke Public Library’s Virginia Room.