Ancestry: Library Edition

Jacob Donenworth standing beside a bicycle. Text at the bottom reads "W. I. Becker - New Hamburg" This image was Taken from the Waterloo Historical Society Photograph collection
#P005088 – Waterloo Historical Society Photograph Collection

Post by Joseph, Information Services staff.

For many people, researching and discovering their family history can be an engaging and intriguing pastime. Kitchener Public Library offers access to the genealogy research database Ancestry: Library Edition, which is currently free to access at home with your library card! Whether you’re looking for a new hobby, or want to make sure you can preserve the stories and experiences of family members, there are plenty of resources available to help.

Here are a few tips on how to start your research:

Keep Things Organized

Hopefully your research will result in lots of sources and information, but the last thing you want is to get all mixed up and have to start over to verify the details. A good organizational system will help you in the long run.

Talk to family members and take notes:

One of the most valuable resources and starting points for any family history research is the family members you can ask about their stories and memories! They might be able to share about places your family lived, or other relatives or friends that might know more about your family’s history. Additionally, you might find that family members have photographs or other memorabilia of your ancestors.

Focus your research on one person at a time:

Working with a lot of information can be confusing at times, and even more so if you have any ancestors who passed down the same name through multiple generations. Focusing your research on one individual at a time will allow you to make sure dates and events make sense.

Think creatively:

Many older historical records were recorded from verbal communication, so names get spelled in a variety of ways according to what the person doing the writing thought was the correct spelling. Also, plenty of errors are made along the way, so if a date doesn’t quite make sense for an individual you’re researching, don’t treat it as an absolute. An example of this would be finding a recorded date of christening prior to the individual’s birthday, or a date of death listed 150 years after their birth.

Looking for books to help you in your research?

Here’s a few titles from KPL’s collection:


Have questions? Want more recommendations?  

Call: 519-743-0271 | TTY: 1-877-614-4832 | Email: askkpl@kpl.org | Chat: kpl.org