Glenview resident Mary Jane Cullinan said she's looked on and off for information about her ancestors for the past seven years. Now retired, she's spending more time researching her roots.
"It's a challenge," she said. "I enjoy history. It goes along with that."
Cullinan was one of five people on hand for Genealogy Research Day on July 16 at Glenview Public Library.
Kimberly Schlarman, a genealogy specialist at the library, said the community's interest in genealogical research has grown over the years, and about 20 people typically attend the library's genealogy workshops, held once every three months.
"I think people just want to know where they came from (and) where their family came from," she said. "I think it's a connection with the past and a connection with your history. You kind of learn about yourself by learning about your ancestors."
Terry Jackson, a library volunteer and a member of the North Suburban Genealogical Society, said the library's goal is to help residents learn about their family history, along with techniques for genealogical research.
"One of the basic things is, which people starting off—including when I started out—don't do is what we call, 'cite their sources,'" he said. "When you find a piece of information, what you want to do is indicate who's the author of that document—it might be the county, or the city, or a church—and where you found it because you might have found it on a microfilm at some library."
The reason you do that, Jackson said, is to allow yourself and others who might look at your work later to find that same record.
Cullinan said she's encountered a number of challenges while looking for information on her grandmother.
"The fact there's different records of her first name, and that makes it harder, and the ambiguity about her date of birth," she said.
Cullinan said the library workshops are helpful, and she hopes that in the end, her hard work won't have been for nothing.
"I'm an only child," she said. "The search is a little bit more on identity."
Mary Ann O'Brien of Glenview also attended Genealogy Research Day, and said she learned new information that day including when her father came to the United States and what ship he arrived on.
"My father was born in Austria and I knew he had brothers and sisters," O'Brien said. "I was trying to figure out how many he actually had because they all didn't come to the United States. Everybody is gone. I have nobody to ask; they've all passed away."
"The one thing that I will tell my children [is] to realize how important it is to get that information while we're all still alive," she said.
The library will host an information session called "European Genealogy," on August 18 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For more information on genealogy and local history, go to http://www.glenviewpl.org/researchGenealogy/index.html.