Library is ready to help you explore your roots the authentic way

Published 12:04 am Sunday, February 3, 2008

Why genealogy? Genealogy, the study of family history and descent, is one of the world’s most popular hobbies. So why are millions of people doing some kind of family research? Perhaps they just wonder about themselves and their roots. Maybe they want information to give their children. Possibly, they want a medical family history because of an inherited disease. Many people start in order to qualify for certain heritage societies. Sometimes they simply want to solve a mystery in their family.

For whatever reason, many people have become addicted to genealogy research — especially in Natchez.

Genealogy research

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at your library

If you are one of these people or want to become one, you need to visit your library, which is a treasure trove of genealogical information.

One of our most popular resources is, which is a paid subscription for individuals but is available totally free at your Library.

A free course — Genealogy research can be overwhelming at first, so we’re offering a free course to help you get started or improve your skills. The course will be at your library from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28. The class size is limited, so you must register to attend, which you can do by visiting, calling or e-mail us.

The two teachers are David Dreyer and Marianne Sweeney-Raley. David spends hours in your Library using, and he loves to help others use the program. Seeing how often and how well he has helped our visitors, we decided to ask him to teach this course. David has researched the descendants of Abdul Rahman, an African prince who was enslaved in 1788 and held in Adams County for 40 years. David was involved in the documentary Prince Among Slaves, which airs on PBS on Feb. 4.

Marianne is our reference librarian and frequently helps people with their genealogy research. She will point out other useful materials available in your Library and explain how best to use them.

Overdue books

As you know, whenever a book is overdue, we assess a small charge per day. Have you ever wondered why? Some people seem to think it helps to fund the library — that they are helping the library when they return books late. Although every little bit counts, the money collected in fines is less than 1 percent of our budget. Our funding primarily comes from taxpayers through the City of Natchez, with some grant funding through the State of Mississippi. Since we are spending your money, we try to be very careful with it. The real reason for fines is to encourage the public to bring books back on time, to make them available to others. When people do not return items, we are forced to consider whether to re-purchase those items that are most needed or demanded, provided they are still available. Re-purchasing takes money away from new items you might like to have available to check out or use.

If someone is late returning a book, it might mean a child cannot complete a homework assignment. There are always going to be those individuals who check out books, never return them, do not respond to our pleas, and end up costing us (and you) money. However, we depend on the majority of our patrons being responsible. So, please try to return your library items on time. It is not only considerate of others, but it saves taxpayer dollars.

And remember to update your records when you move or change telephone numbers. Postage spent on overdue notices to non-forwarded addresses is another waste of taxpayer dollars.

The Natchez Adams Wilkinson Library Service consists of three branches: Armstrong Library in Natchez (the headquarters of the library system), Van Cleave Library in Centreville, and Woodville Public Library in Woodville. The Armstrong Library is located at 220 South Commerce in Natchez, and is open Monday through Thursday from 9-6, Friday from 9-5, and Saturday from 9-1. You can call us at 601.445.8862, e-mail us at or visit us online