Genealogy: How to trace your roots for free

Genealogy has become a popular indoor activity during the pandemic and it’s even easier and cheaper than ever before. The San Diego Public Library has temporarily made its access available to patrons from home for free.

Normally, the service is only available at its branches and the Central Library maintains a cache of genealogical resources following a donation from the San Diego Genealogical Society. Volunteers from the group provide free assistance and guidance to help get people started although the in-person program is temporarily paused because of the pandemic.

“The secret is to start with yourself and your parents and what you know, and then from parents and relatives, what they know,” said Ken Robison with the society. “It’s wonderful to help them do that and it’s also for them, it’s either tears or just excitement that it’s like, ‘oh, my gosh, I didn’t know that.’”

For Black History Month, I was able to trace my family’s history back through Ellis Island to Barbados and England. The library’s service allowed me to access church records, which are sometimes more accurate than government census data, for centuries.

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